French game developer Ubisoft Entertainment is hitting the pause button on one of its most successful titles, “Assassin’s Creed,” after two disappointing entries into the long-running franchise.
Poor performance of “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate,” the latest installment, as well as “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” hurt sales over the holiday quarter of 2015; sales were down 44 percent to 561.8 million euros ($636.7 million) from 809.7 million euros ($917.3 million) in the same period last year. The sales missed Ubisoft’s own estimate of 600 million euros ($679 million) for the quarter and lowered expectations for the coming year to 1.36 billion euros ($1.54 billion) from 1.46 billion euros ($1.65 billion) that the company predicted last fall.
CEO Yves Guillemot attributed the slow launch of “Assassin’s Creed” to “an exceptionally competitive environment.” The company will now take a year off from the game to reinvent it. “We are now in a position to take the decision not to release a new ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game in 2016-17, in order to give the brand a new dimension,” he said.
During the earnings call, Ubisoft announced “Watch Dogs 2” and a new property that will be released in April. The company is betting 2016 on two new franchise installments coming out February and March: “Far Cry Primal” and “Tom Clancy’s The Division.”
The slow launch of “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate” could be attributed to the bug-filled launch of “Assassin’s Creed Unity.” Released in 2014, the game experienced performance issues that led to the company releasing a public apology and an offer for a free game. Ubisoft revealed the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise has sold 10 million titles in the quarter.
Ubisoft did not release a major game last summer, and with another disappointing quarter behind them, the company is looking for strong performances from “The Division” and “Far Cry Primal” to pull themselves out of a slump. Ubisoft targeted 591 million euros ($669 million) in sales for the coming quarter.
Looking ahead to its upcoming year, the company announced a slate of five games. “For Honor,” “South Park: The Fractured But Whole,” “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon WildLands” and a “Watch Dogs” sequel.