Ezio is in the killing business, and business is gooood. Not so much for Ubisoft, which, despite selling nearly 9 million copies of Assassin's Creed II during its fiscal year, still reported a $73 million operating loss.
Ubisoft announced its fiscal 2010 results today, and though strong sales of Assassin's Creed II and surprise Wii hit Just Dance (3 million in sales) propelled the company to better-than-expected results, $0.00 in profits were recorded.
"The global economic crisis had a pronounced impact on the videogame industry in 2009, which contracted by nearly 10% year-on-year," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. "Ubisoft's sales were hit particularly hard, falling 18% over the full year despite a stabilization in the second half of the year, when figures came in on a par with the corresponding period of 2008-09."
In total, Ubisoft recorded over $1 billion in sales on the year, and Guillemot said a return to profitability is expected in fiscal 2011. Splinter Cell: Conviction has already sold nearly 2 million copies (according to internal Ubisoft data), Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is out this week, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is due this holiday season, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which the company said has been bumped from Q3 to Q4 (January-March 2011) is expected to be a sales driver.
In addition, Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez said the company was keeping a close watch on Electronic Arts' efforts to convince gamers to buy new over used, Project $10 and the recently announced Online Pass. DLC will be featured in all of Ubisoft's upcoming titles, Martinez said, and a Project $10-like strategy is highly likely.
"We forecast a return to profitable growth in 2010-11 with positive cash flow generation, driven by a games line-up that is more closely tailored to growth segments and based on strong franchises," said Guillemot. "We also expect to see the first concrete results from our investments in online games and services."