The lights are on
Another week, another flood of news. Welcome to the Game Informer weekly recap. It's hot outside, so grab a frosty beverage and settle in, because a lot happened this week.
In addition to this week's analysis, I published a feature about Kickstarter best practices that should be adopted from the nonprofit world. If you are a Kickstarter project manager, have backed (or are considering support of) a project, or simply like to read about these independent projects, this might help focus the way you evaluate pitches. Your feedback is always appreciated.
Ubisoft sales drop off during the last quarter, but still beat projections.
Ubisoft's first quarter 2014 performance wasn't exciting in and of itself, but some of the additional details slipped in during the conversation offered some interesting perspective. After disclosing a 42 percent drop in first quarter sales in comparison to last year (attributed to the lack of a retail release between April and June 2013), CEO Yves Guillemot looked ahead to the rest of the year. Sales are looking up for next quarter, and I expect that third quarter (Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag) will be huge for the publisher.
Open world games have been a growing part of Ubisoft's stable, and gamers should expect even more in the coming years. Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and Assassin's Creed all offer players a great deal of freedom. It also wouldn't surprise me to see the Watch Dogs companion app set a trend. We learned that use of the mobile game will not require ownership of the retail release. This will broaden the player base, giving those at home a greater chance to connect with someone on their phone or tablet.
We also learned that racing game The Crew will arrive in early 2014, with Tom Clancy's The Division coming late in 2014. Ubisoft was asked about sales projections for next generation consoles, and the response was revealing. Ubisoft was a major supporter of the Wii U early on (and remains one of the platforms largest third-party publishers).
Officials at the company have been vocal about their desire to see Nintendo step up marketing and lower the price. Because of the struggles facing the Wii U and Ubisoft's bold predictions last year that the console would help move the publisher's titles, Guillemot was hesitant to commit to even broad strokes about anticipated sales figures for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of upcoming games.
Atlus' parent, Index Corporation, is getting ready to auction some of its operations.
Until next week, we won't know if Index Corporation's announcement of an upcoming auction, but the situation has us concerned about one of our favorite RPG publishers. As a reminder, Index Corporation is in enormous debt that has only been made worse by major devaluation due to fraud charges. In an effort to work through "rehabilitation" (a form of bankruptcy), the company is selling off some of its operational units.
I think it would be a mistake for them to part with Atlus. The publisher is picking up enormous steam lately, and smart decision making is a big part of that. Putting Shin Megami Tensei IV on the 3DS, which is the top selling game hardware in the US for two months running (as confirmed by the June NPD report released this week), was brilliant. Nintendo's handheld is a powerhouse, and it's only getting stronger.
We're keeping a close eye on what's going on with Index Corporation and will report as soon as we know something more. As a reminder, there is absolutely no evidence that anything is changing with Atlus at this time. We won't know what's going on until next week.
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