Game News Assassin’s Creed, Skull and Bones, Star Wars… What does Ubisoft have in store after the postponement of Avatar?
Ubisoft’s fiscal balance sheet fell and, with it, a rain of bad news fell on the world of video games. Postponed avatar, canceled Splinter Cell… The future seems dark for the French studio, but between Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars and Tom Clancy, Ubisoft still has more than one card up its sleeve.
Avatar, Splinter Cell VR… A moving schedule
Decidedly, Ubisoft is starting to get into the habit of abandoning official announcements and letting its tax record speak for itself. And the one who has just been issued did not skimp on shock information. We learn there indeed the postponement and the pure and simple cancellation of titles yet expected, or even not yet announced.
Let’s start with the cancellations that concern two licenses of the Tom Clancy franchise, namely Ghost Recon and the nostalgic Splinter Cell. Do not panic, Splinter Cell Remake is a priori still in the kitchen. It is indeed the episode in virtual reality which was to seal the partnership between Meta (formerly Oculus) and Ubisoft. A priori, the VR episode of Assassin’s Creed developed in the same framework is still on track.
On the side of Ghost Recon, Frontline is bowing out. The open-world free-to-play Battle Royale announced in October 2021 will not see the light of day, despite well advanced development. According to Tom Henderson, the first feedback on the closed beta was inconclusive. The game looked, it seems, way too much like a certain Call of Duty Warzone. A resemblance requiring a priori an overhaul, but Ubisoft has obviously decided that the game is not worth the candle. It must be said that Frontline was already receiving strong criticism from the community.
Note that two other Ubisoft games have also been canceled, but these had not yet been announced. If we trust the revelations that Tom Henderson made to us a few months ago, Ubisoft would have in the boxes a new Prince of Persia game, The Crew 3, a sequel to Immortals Fenyx Rising, and a certain Assassin’s Creed Rift. These two cancellations could therefore concern one of these games, but we are here in pure speculation. If this is the case, however, we can exclude the potential new Assassin’s Creed.
These cancellations are indeed the result of Ubisoft’s desire to focus on titles with the highest potential. The Assassin’s Creed license being one of the most lucrative and appreciated by the studio, we can imagine them working hard on it rather than canceling projects. Especially since another small line of the balance sheet speaks to us of an unannounced “premium” game, originally planned for this fiscal year and which has been postponed to the next. Assassin’s Creed Rift, which rumors announced for early 2023, seems to fit the description particularly well.
As for the second postponed title, we know which one it is. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will not be released this year. It is in fact postponed to the fiscal year 2023/2024. To tell the truth, we hardly saw the title arriving in the coming months given the little information known about it. Still, according to Tom Henderson, the open-world in the universe of James Cameron’s films is almost ready and we were therefore not immune to a surprise release. So it’s missed for this year… Bad news for players and perhaps for Ubisoft as well, which is losing its biggest fish of the year. Despite everything, the studio persists and signs: he is aiming for 400 million in operating income (earnings before taxes) this year. It must be said that Ubisoft still has a few cards up its sleeve for the rest of the year.
2022: a complicated year for Ubisoft?
Ubisoft is not really in its best shape. If the noises of corridors on a potential takeover are becoming more and more noisy, it is indeed not for nothing and this is confirmed with this tax report. First quarter 2022 revenue down 9.8% compared to last year (which was less substantial than that of the year before). Ubisoft is well aware that the market is not playing in its favor and has revised its forecasts downwards compared to the previous year. In a way, these results are therefore not such a big slap in the face.
The balance sheet even manages to turn out to be positive since, on net sales, Ubisoft exceeded its forecasts by almost 5%. (293 million euros raised against 280 million planned). The situation is therefore far from dramatic and this is what is pushing Ubisoft to maintain its cap of 400 million in operating income by the end of the year. To achieve them, the studio is of course counting on these two end-of-year releases: Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope and Skull and Bones. But at this stage, projecting their sales seems very complicated.
Mario + The Rabbids is a license that works well. The first opus recorded no less than 2 million sales, placing it, at the time, first in the ranking of the best-selling third-party games on Nintendo Switch, just that. With its visibly richer and more accessible gameplay, it is therefore difficult to see the second opus being a failure. However, it is unlikely to register record figures worthy of Assassin’s Creed, whose latest opus sold more than 3.5 million copies in a single week of operation. Mario + The Rabbids Sparks of Hope is a priori not strong enough to bear the responsibility for Ubisoft’s turnover.
This role, it is rather the ambitious Skull and Bones who had to take it. But the more time goes by, the more difficult it becomes to anticipate the enthusiasm that will accompany its release. Admittedly, the game had been able to inspire players extremely at the time of its announcement, but the years have passed since then. As we know, the development of the title was rather chaotic so that some were no longer expecting it when it finally showed up during the last Ubisoft Forward. Add to that a sequence of gameplay that did not convince everyone and a release date that falls on the eve of one of the biggest games of the year. (God of War: Ragnarok) and we can legitimately start to worry about the game of pirates. Will it allow Ubisoft to get into the nails? See you in November to find out.
Note that if these two games have been highlighted in the box’s tax balance sheet, we must also count the potential new entries that have not yet been announced. Unlikely to see a huge surprise pointing the tip of his nose, but we must not neglect the importance of Just Dance which is very likely to offer a new opus this year and watch The Settlers (which was scheduled for March 17, 2022), Rocksmith+ and OddBallers who are still waiting for a date. In its tax report, Ubisoft also mentions a lucrative contract with a mobile game for a partnership with one of the studio’s big licenses. If the latter is planned for this year, it could be a good way to replenish the coffers and finance all the beautiful projects that the studio has for the years to come.
Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, Star Wars… What’s left for Ubisoft?
And yes, projects that make you want Ubisoft has a whole range of them. We will start with a license whose future should be clarified in September: Assassin’s Creed. From what we know, Ubisoft is working on its big and mysterious Assassin’s Creed metaverse project, Infinity, and a virtual reality opus. For rumors, we have already mentioned Assassin’s Creed Rift, the potential title allowing you to embody Basim and putting infiltration back at the heart of the gameplay. But recently, a new code name has been on everyone’s lips: ProjectRed. Opus in its own right or part of Infinity? Things are far from clear. But anyway, this new AC project should take us to Asia, and maybe even to Japan (a place highly anticipated by fans of the license).
For the rest, we still have a hell of a lot of games in production.. Between the remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, that of Splinter Cell, the great Arlesian Beyond Good & Evil 2 and the free-to-play Tom Clancy’s The Division: Heartland, there is a good shovelful of games announced. On the mobile side too, since Ubisoft is working on no less than three games: Tom Clancy’s The Division Resurgence, Wild Arena Survivors and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Mobile. But that’s not all !
In effect, Ubisoft also has big new and particularly ambitious projects in its drawers, such as Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora but also the open-world game Star Wars (also developed by Massive Entertainment). On the new side, we also note the development of the multiplayer team game and colorful arena responding to the code name Project Q and a new entry in the Tom Clancy universe named XDefiant. Add to that the licenses held by Ubisoft that still haven’t given any news like Far Cry, Watch Dogs and Immortals Fenyx Rising. Without forgetting that we are not immune to a revival legendary licenses stamped Ubisoft, with Rayman at the top of the line. It remains to be seen what strategy Ubisoft will choose and what games will actually see the light of day.
In the current economic environment, managing our investments strategically and conscientiously is more crucial than ever. We must therefore manage to limit our expenses to the essentials by questioning some of our habits and our reflexes and by reinventing ourselves together to progress in terms of cost, flexibility and efficiency.
Yves Guillemot, tax report Q1 2022/2023