French gaming outfit Ubisoft has announced its latest quarterly earnings report, giving investors the inside scoop on the company’s next-gen schedule. Speaking with shareholders on Thursday evening, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot unveiled a prospective first quarter release date for persistent-online driving title The Crew, as well as a vague late year launch window for shooter MMO The Division (both 2014).
In addressing Ubisoft’s comparatively tame second quarter showing (down 42% from Q2 2012) Guillemot noted the company’s surprisingly strong back catalog sales. Having prepared for a modest quarterly intake of around â‚¬70m ($92.4m), the publisher eventually accrued over â‚¬76m($100m). Healthy performances from the likes of Far Cry 3, Rayman: Origins and Just Dance 4 saw back catalog sales climb by as much as 56% during the period, whilst digital downloads, including the neon-soaked add-on pack Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, rose by a further 27%.
Third quarter projections appear noticeably stronger, with Ubisoft’s last batch of current-gen exclusives slated to ship during the window. Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Rayman: Legends will help contribute to an overall 35% increase in sales, says Ubisoft, with Q3 earnings posited at a generous â‚¬200 ($263.8m) overall.
Also of note during the call were Guillemot’s comments over Ubisoft’s artistic direction, and in particular, its wholesale adoption of the open-world format. Having published 9 such titles in just over 7 years, the company is no stranger to the sandbox experience, believing it to be the future of the industry in general. Guillemot told investors:
“[Over time] we have developed technologies, we have grown the experience of our teams, we have put in place pre-sized processes to ensure efficient collaboration between multiple studios working simultaneously on the same massive maps. This gives us a unique opportunity in the industry to bring open-world [games] on a regular basis.”
When asked why the company had pursued open-world gaming so strongly, Julian Gerighty, creative director for The Crew recently told Polygon that it was Ubisoft’s editorial department responsible for making the call. Tasked with apportioning out funds, manpower and advice for every project, the editorial staff, has final say on creative decisions.
“The editorial department and Serge [Hascoet — Ubisoft’s chief creative officer] is shepherding the creation of these things, and open world is something that he [is] absolutely passionate about.”
So, do you agree with Ubisoft that open-world titles are the future of the industry? Will linear adventures disappear entirely or be forced to go open-world to remain relevant? Have your say in the comments below.
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