Avatar might be breaking box office records right now, but its game, published by Ubisoft, is certainly not doing as well. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot discussed the reasons behind that and pondered about its effect on the French publisher's future licensing deals.
"The fact that the movie was coming in December was a potential problem, and it did result in a problem," he explained. "We thought the game would continue to sell after the new year," but instead the game followed a more typical post-holiday declining sales curve.
"It will be difficult in the future to buy rights to a movie that comes in December, because it's too risky, and it cannot [capture] Christmas season [sales]," Guillemot added. "It doesn't work as well for a video game company."
Another reason for Ubisoft to dislike movie licensing is the time constraints associated with it. "We want to make sure with those kinds of games, we have time to polish as much as we want. The pressure of the release of the movie is always difficult in our industry, so I would say our goal in the future is to make sure we can have those games ready a long time in advance."
But that doesn't mean that Ubisoft will forgo movie licensing once and for all. "The goal is to reduce the investment in licenses, and put more emphasis on making our brands bigger [and appear] more often, with very high quality," the Ubisoft CEO said. "It doesn't mean we will stop, but we are going to spend less on licenses in the future."
Avatar game is on track to sell around 2.5 million units across six formats, contrary to Ubisoft's initial expectations to sell between 3.5 and 5 million copies. "When we lose 1 million sales [from our projections], that's about 30 million euros in sales and 65 or 70 percent of gross margin that has been lost," Yves explained before noting that the game isn't a losing project.