Ubisoft Plans Casual Games for Natal
French publisher Ubisoft, maker of casual video game titles like Raving Rabbids and Petz, plans to make Microsoft's Natal a big part of its casual business model, according to CEO Yves Guillemont. Speaking to investors during a quarterly conference call yesterday, the French CEO said that declining profits in the DS marketplace would require that the publisher shift its strategy to other casual platforms like the Wii and Natal. Guillemont made no mention of the Sony motion control scheme, which so far does not have a name.
"The DS is declining quickly. The casual business is changing rapidly and we have to reinvent it this year. We already have a big shift from DS to Wii this year and it will continue with the Wii and Xbox 360 new camera next year," he told investors.
Guillemont has reason to be hopeful about Natal's chances for resuscitating business. This past quarter was catastrophic for the publisher, which saw a 50% decline in sales based on the same period one year ago. The company pulled in EUR 83 million, compared with EUR 169 million last year. The company blamed these declines on lower DS sales, the delay of key properties into 2010, and an increase in piracy, particularly on the DS platform.
While there are many games that we want on Natal, casual shovelware was not on the top of our list. On the other hand, if Ubisoft can strike the right balance between casual, accessible fun and real value, then gamers and families might embrace casual games on the Xbox 360. Clearly, the company's Raving Rabbids lineup, which has enjoyed solid sales on the Wii, is a prime contender for project Natal.
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