In February, Ubisoft said that it had five ‘triple-A’ games slated for release sometime during the company’s 2020-21 fiscal year, which began on April 1. It recommitted to that plan in its year-end earnings report today, but warned that one of those games could slip into the following year, due primarily to the “higher level of uncertainty” caused by the need for developers to work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Neither Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot nor CFO Frederick Duguet commented on the likelihood of a delay during today’s earnings call, but the odds are significant enough that Ubisoft took the unusual step of including a range of financial targets for the upcoming fiscal year, just in case it postpones “the release of an AAA title” to 2021-22, Guillemot said in the year-end report.
“The COVID-19 crisis calls for prudence, as numerous uncertainties have arisen. The transition to working from home has had short-term repercussions on our production, for the time being limited to few weeks. The coming months will provide more visibility on whether we can maintain our release plans.”
Guillemot went a little deeper on the possibility of a delay during the earnings call, saying that with five major games in development, “a few weeks on one can have an impact on the others.”
“We are being prudent for sure,” he said. “We don’t know what the next few months will bring, so that’s why we are taking potential further delays due to the situation, even if our teams are really working hard to make sure they tackle all the problematics for mo-cap, testing, and all the other potential issues we had.”
“We are conservative,” Duguet added. “We don’t see any specific issues on a specific game, [but] as Yves said we are taking a generally cautious stance there.”
Four of the five games expected to come out this year have been revealed—Watch Dogs Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Gods and Monsters were previously known, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was announced last week—while the fifth, coming from one of Ubisoft’s “biggest franchises,” remains unnamed. That would seem the game most likely to be pushed into the next fiscal year, since Watch Dogs Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Gods and Monsters are all now in a “polish period,” and Valhalla is slated for the 2020 holiday season.
No mention was made of either Beyond Good and Evil 2 or Skull and Bones, which remain trapped in limbo: Ubisoft pushed Skull and Bones “to after 2019-20” in its 2018-19 year-end report, while BG&E2 was last seen at E3 2018, where it did not make a particularly strong impression. It’s possible we’ll hear something about them, or the fifth game Ubisoft has up its sleeve, in July, when its “E3-style showcase” Ubisoft Forward takes place.