Ubisoft first-half sales down 52 percent

Call of Juarez shipments approaching 900,000, but Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and TMNT: Smash-Up fall short of expectations.

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Over the summer, Ubisoft reported disappointing sales figures for its first fiscal quarter, down 51 percent year-over-year. An industry-wide sales slump played into the numbers, but so did a dry release schedule that saw only a single major title, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, released in the waning days of the three-month stretch.

Call of Juarez 2 was one of Ubisoft's few strong titles for the first half.
Call of Juarez 2 was one of Ubisoft's few strong titles for the first half.

The publisher today reported revenues for the first half of its fiscal year, and the story was much the same. Sales are down 52 percent overall but are still in line with Ubisoft's lowered guidance. At this point last year, the publisher had raked in €344 million ($511 million), compared to the current campaign's €166 million ($247 million).

Sales for the July-September quarter were driven by Call of Juarez, which Ubisoft said had shipped nearly 900,000 copies to retailers. Dawn of Discovery, the latest in Ubisoft's Anno franchise for the PC, Wii, and DS, was also cited as a good performer. However, in a post-earnings conference call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said some of the publisher's other big releases underperformed, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Academy of Champions.

Even if those titles lived up to expectations, sales could have had difficulty measuring up to Ubisoft's previous year lineup. The April-September period in 2008 included continuing sales of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, Soulcalibur IV (which Ubisoft distributed in Europe), and Haze.

It wasn't all gloomy news from Ubisoft. The publisher called its current quarter "the most important in Ubisoft's history," and expects a lineup spearheaded by Assassin's Creed 2, Avatar: The Game, and Rabbids Go Home to rake in €540 million ($803 million). If Ubisoft hits that revenue target, its holiday sales would be up 6 percent over 2008's October to December stretch.

Guillemot also said one DS title in particular had been overperforming, but he did not refer to it by name. As one of the reasons for its success, the executive pointed to a new antipiracy measure Ubisoft incorporated into the title.

Elsewhere in the earnings call, Guillemot gave a "mid-2010" release window on TrackMania 2, the next project from its recent acquisition Nadeo. He also updated investors on Heroes of Might and Magic Kingdoms, saying the massively multiplayer online role-playing game is currently in beta testing and should be an early 2010 release internationally.

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