Ubisoft, once the world’s most beloved gaming brand, is now facing difficult times. The company has recently had to lower its financial forecasts for the quarter, cancel three unannounced titles, and postpone the release of the highly anticipated “Skull and Bones” game for the sixth time. This is in addition to the four games that were canceled over the summer. These decisions were made due to the lackluster performance of recent releases such as Mario + Rabbits: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023. Ubisoft has also acknowledged the industry’s shift towards mega-brands and long-running games that can reach players around the world. This has caused the company to incur significant costs, including the write-down of approximately 500 million euros in capitalized research and development costs. On top of this, the company has had to deal with the fallout from its NFT fiasco, disabling features in online games, allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, and the release of the Far Cry 6 GOTY Edition at an inflated price. It is clear that Ubisoft has a lot of work to do to restore its reputation.
In short: Ubisoft, once considered the most hated gaming brand in the world, is now falling on hard times. In addition to lowering financial forecasts for the latest quarter and admitting that recent releases haven’t performed as well as expected, the company canceled three more games, adding to the four it canceled over the summer. It also postponed “Skull and Bones” for the sixth time.
Back in July, Ubisoft announced the cancellation of four games in development, including Splinter Cell VR and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Frontline. Three more unannounced titles join the scrap heap, bringing the total number of canceled games to a costly seven in one fiscal year.
Explaining the reasons for the move, Ubisoft pointed out that Mario + Rabbits: Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023 are not working as expected. The company also said it “faces serious challenges as the industry continues to shift towards mega-brands and long-running games that [so in the original] it can reach players around the world, across platforms and business models.”
There’s some bad news for those hoping to play the finished version of Skull and Bones on March 9. The pirate simulator is being delayed for a whopping sixth time ahead of the start of Ubisoft’s 2023-24 fiscal year, which begins in April.
“Players will be able to discover the beauty of Skull and bones in the upcoming beta testing phase. The extra time has already paid off and brought impressive quality improvements, which has been confirmed by recent gaming tests,” Ubisoft said in its financial report. “We believe players will be pleasantly surprised by its development.” We’ve decided to delay its launch to give us more time to showcase a much more polished and balanced experience and raise awareness.”
These ready-made games cost the company a lot of money. It wrote down approximately 500 million euros ($538 million) in capitalized research and development costs related to “upcoming premium and free-to-play games as well as recently canceled games.”
Ubisoft also lowered its financial forecasts for October-December quarter from about 830 million euros ($891 million) to about 725 million euros ($779 million). It expects net orders to fall 10% for the year, although it previously forecast that revenue would rise 10%. The company expects to cut costs by another 200 million euros ($215 million) over the next two years through “targeted restructuring, the sale of some non-core assets and the usual natural disposals.” Unsurprisingly, Ubisoft’s share price is in freefall (higher).
2022 was far from the best year for Ubisoft. There was NFT fiasco when the company’s arrogance about its Ghost Recon Breakpoint irreplaceable token experiment backfired when it folded just four months after launch. There was also talk of ransom or no ransom, disabling features in online games, allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at some Ubisoft studios, and let’s not forget that Far Cry 6 GOTY Edition was charged $120 despite the game not winning a GOTY award . For an organization recognized as the most hated gaming brand in 2021, there was certainly a lot of gloating among users.