Ubisoft has decided they want to slow things down for their future titles as recent games have not seen the success they were hoping for. On Thursday, the publisher announced the delays of multiple large projects of theirs, including Watch Dogs Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Gods and Monsters, which collectively took a big toll on Ubisoft’s bottom line for the fiscal year.
Another factor in their fiscal losses are the failures of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and to a lesser extent The Division 2. Ubisoft didn’t provide numbers, but said that it had made a “sharp downward revision” in the revenues expected from both games. The reasons they cited were a failure to differentiate Breakpoint from its predecessor, an overall lack of interest in sequels to live games, and excess bugs for the game’s failure.
In a post-announcement conference call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot pointed out that while Breakpoint will be naturally compared to Ghost Recon: Wildlands, it’s not exactly fair, as Wildlands had years to fix issues while Breakpoint is still very fresh. That’s a lesson that applies to live games across the board: Sequels to live games cannot be handled in the same way as they are with standard, start-to-finish games.
“We continue to learn and adapt to the realities of live operations, and what we just experienced is that it is more difficult to create interest for a sequel of a successful live multiplayer game when the past iteration has benefited from years of optimization and improvements,” Guillemot said. “With so many learnings and built-in confidence from our teams, we wrongly believed that after a 30-36 month gap between releases, players would be ready to enjoy new adventures of our live games. In the end it proved too short a time frame.”
He did acknowledge that Breakpoint simply blew it, and did not solely blame the misunderstanding of the live game model. The changes the game made in its core gameplay have been criticized by players and believed heavily in the gameplay itself despite technical issues that were known before release. The game released with these issues the company deemed “small flaws” and were criticized for that move as well.
“What we see now is that, with the response from players, we were wrong in our assumptions,” Guillemot said.
Watch Dogs Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Gods and Monsters are now all expected to arrive sometime in Q2/Q3 of Ubisoft’s next fiscal year, which puts them between July 1 and December 31 of 2020. Beyond that, it sounds like Ubisoft’s experience with Breakpoint means we’ll be waiting longer than usual for its next round of live games.
“We need to make sure that for live multiplayer games, there is sufficient time between each iteration received to build strong anticipation and momentum,” Guillemot said. “We need to make sure that all our upcoming productions benefit from enough development time. This has been our strategy for many years, and it has proven very effective. This situation is telling us we can’t make exceptions.”