Ubisoft cuts full-year guidance as it pushes back game premieres again


FILE PHOTO: The UbiSoft Entertainment logo is seen at the Paris Games Week (PGW), a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

(Reuters) -French video game group Ubisoft cut its full-year forecasts on Thursday as it pushed back three major new releases to the next fiscal year.

Free-to-play game "Tom Clancy's The Division Heartland", slated for release in 2021-22, is now expected to premiere over 2022-23, Ubisoft said, along with "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and "Rocksmith+", two titles that had been already delayed this year.

Though Ubisoft posted record bookings last year as coronavirus-related lockdowns forced people to move to at-home entertainment, the health restrictions also meant a slowdown in production efficiency across the industry, with later global supply chains issues and electronic components' shortages scaling back gaming equipment output.

Back in July, Ubisoft delayed the release of sports game "Riders Republic" and multi-player shooter "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction" to October and January respectively.

Its Polish competitor CD Projekt is facing similar issues, delaying the release of "Cyberpunk 2077" and "The Witcher 3" next-generation console versions to 2022 instead of late 2021.

Ubisoft, maker of the blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" franchise, now expects 2021-22 net bookings - the net amount of products and services sold over a period - to be flat to slightly down year-on-year, compared to previous guidance of single-digit growth.

"Not unexpected but still underwhelming," Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Walker wrote in a note to clients, referring to game delays and Ubisoft's below-consensus net bookings expectations of 725 million euros-780 million euros ($847 million-$911 million) for October-December.

Continued strong sales of "Assassin's Creed Valhalla", the latest instalment of the franchise premiered in November last year, helped Ubisoft beat its own and consensus guidance for the three months ended September, with net bookings of 392.1 million euros.

($1 = 0.8562 euros)

(Reporting by Valentine Baldassari; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Susan Fenton)

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