Analyst: Assassin's Creed Sales Flat As Casual Games Drove Ubisoft Holiday Growth

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood shipped 7.7 million units during the holidays, but it was dancing and fitness titles that drove growth for the publisher during the holidays, forecasts one analyst.
Ahead of French publisher Ubisoft's earnings call next month, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said he expects Assassin's Creed sales were stagnant year-on-year, while more casual fare drove growth over the holiday quarter. Hickey said he expects the publisher to report "flat" sales of November's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, with shipments of 7.7 million units -- still very strong, but down from a reported 8 million units from 2009's Assassin's Creed II. It was an "exceedingly strong" casual game lineup that Hickey expects drove growth during fiscal Q3, ended December 31. October's Just Dance 2 for Wii has sold through over 5 million units and November's Michael Jackson: The Experience has sold through over 2 million units. Ubisoft also had a strong presence on Microsoft's mass market-friendly Kinect, releasing Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Motion Sports and Fighter Uncaged. Hickey said he expects Ubisoft to have generated €597 million ($816 million) during the quarter, exceeding corporate guidance of €520 million ($710 million). He added, "There is no confirmation that a major Assassin’s Creed game will ship in fiscal '12 or that the market is necessarily receptive to the franchise being iterated annually, with AC: Brotherhood sales potentially flat this holiday." With Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood following Assassin's Creed II after just one year, there are indications that Ubisoft wants to make the franchise an annual release. Ubisoft SVP of sales Tony Key told Gamasutra just prior to the release of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, "It makes sense [to annualize a franchise] if you can pull it off. It's not easy." "We've got 500 people working on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood across the globe in four different studios," he said. "So that's a tremendous organizational effort that the company has undertaken to make this happen. ... It is possible, as long as you're innovating and keeping things fresh."

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