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Ubisoft beats Q4 forecasts, thanks in no small part to player recurring investment

Player recurring investment, or the sort of player spend that comes from in-game purchases, DLC sales, season passes, and subscriptions, helped Ubisoft beat its expectations for the 3 month period ending March 31, 2020.

Player recurring investment, or the sort of player spend that comes from in-game purchases, DLC sales, season passes, and subscriptions, helped Ubisoft beat its expectations for the 3 month period ending March 31, 2020.

Ubisoft notes in particular that 60 percent of the €55 million (~$59.3 million) it beat those quarterly targets by came from player recurring investment, and that games like Rainbow Six Siege and Assassin's Creed Odyssey both had strong showings in that department throughout the quarter and year. 

For the fourth quarter alone, Ubisoft reports €388.2 million (~$418.5 million) in net bookings (excluding around €29.2 million from a reclassification of mobile revenue), beating the expected €333 million (~$359 million) for the quarter.

A handful of the company's leading franchises saw particular success in that same quarter, with Rainbow Six Siege hitting record engagement levels for each month of Q4, Tom Clancy's The Division 2 showing an uptick in net bookings after a rocky start, and Just Dance 2020 seeing a 156 percent net bookings increase compared to its 2019-branded predecessor. 

For the full year, Ubisoft reports €1.59 billion (~$1.71 billion) in IFRS 15 sales, a decline of 13.6 percent year-over-year, while net bookings for the year declined 24.4 percent yoy to €1.53 billion (~$1.65 billion). However, particularly surrounding sales Ubisoft notes in its reporting that some full-year figures aren't directly comparable to previous numbers due to the 2019-20 year's change to a new IFRS 16 accounting standard. 

Despite the decline, Ubisoft says that its games made a strong showing for the full year though key performance indicators like 117 million active players across both consoles and PC, monthly active users up to 34 million on both platforms, and player recurring investment up 5 percent compared to the previous year. Assassin's Creed Odyssey in particular made "sharp" full-year gains (when compared to its predecessor Assassin's Creed Origins), with sell-through up 90 percent, daily player engagement up 90 percent, and player recurring investment up 170 percent for the full year, compared against Origins.

"As expected, our financial results for the full year finished well below our initial expectations," reads a statement from CFO Frédérick Duguet. "However, it is important to note our strong fourth quarter performance. Starting mid-March, the lockdown led to a sharp increase in player engagement worldwide, but even at the beginning of the fourth quarter our operating trends already were higher than expected thanks to our teams’ remarkable execution."
 

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