Despite critically peaking in its second iteration, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise has received both enough money from its publisher and enough love from its developers to keep the series’ impressive pedigree intact. Perhaps more impressively, Ass-Creed (as it is sometimes lovingly referred to by fans who are mostly me) has developed a legion of adoring fans, who dependably return for their yearly dose of historical fiction turned action-adventure. That’s all well and good, but there’s been a small hiccup – it appears as if this year, 2 million or so Creed-heads fell off the hay wagon.
The info comes via Ubisoft’s recent earnings call, and the news certainly isn’t terrible – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag still managed to sell 7 million units, with 10 million shipped in total since launch.Then again, that includes both next-gen platforms. Despite supposedly falling in line with Ubisoft’s projections, it’s hard to ignore the fact Assassin’s Creed III was able to ship a cool 12 million. Sleeper status is always a possibility, and despite the slightly declining numbers, Ubisoft described AC IV on the call as having “excellent momentum.”
Unfortunately, the trend of worse-but-still-good has permeated many of Ubisoft’s games this past holiday. Just Dance 2014 racked up 6 million sold against last year’s 8 million, while Rocksmith 2014 achieved “lower-than-expected” sales at around 1 million units. On the whole, the quarter was not especially pretty, with sales dropping 35% to around $708.7 million, versus last year’s whopping $1.09 billion. Digital and back-catalog sales also fell, but that is less of a surprise given the shift to a new console generation.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot came to a similar conclusion, citing a “transition period” as the primary reason for an overall sales dip this past quarter.
The launches of the PS4 and Xbox One were both hugely successful, with sales of these machines more than doubling those for the previous generation and confirming the growth potential of the console market in the coming years. Over the short term, the high quality of our titles–which is unanimously recognized by gamers–has enabled us to achieve our third-quarter sales target despite the transition period currently affecting the market. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag performed particularly well, reinforcing the franchise’s long-term potential and therefore its upcoming iteration. This robust showing was achieved thanks to the excellence of our teams, our extensive development capacities and the efficiency of our Lead and Associate studio structure.
He makes it all sound pretty good! Look, if Yves isn’t worrying, then for now neither will I. There’s still the bothersome fact that Assassin’s Creed IV sold less in total on almost twice as many consoles (two of which, despite being new, have install bases in the millions), not to mention the continued trend of Assassin’s Creed‘s critical reception making its permanent home in the B-range. That said, Ubisoft has proven its cleverness many times in years past. As long as quality doesn’t suffer, then the ship will likely right itself soon enough.