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Flat Assassin's Creed sales don't dampen Ubisoft's holiday quarter

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Ubisoft's performance during the third quarter of its 2014-2015 fiscal year surpassed the publisher's guidance, even though year-over-year sales of the Assassin's Creed franchise didn't improve, the company announced today.

Sales for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2014, came in at €809.7 million ($923.7 million), 55.8 percent higher than the same period in 2013 and 10.9 percent above Ubisoft's guidance of €730 million. Accordingly, Ubisoft upgraded its targets for the full 2014-2015 fiscal year from €1.4 billion to €1.44 billion.

Ubisoft said the better-than-expected performance resulted primarily from "very good" sales of both of 2014's Assassin's Creed titles, as well as Far Cry 4 and The Crew. Far Cry 4 shipments reached 7 million units, higher than Ubisoft's expectation of 6 million, while The Crew sales hit the company's guidance of 2 million copies.

Ubisoft shipped 10 million units combined of Assassin's Creed Unity and Assassin's Creed Rogue; the company did not break out specific sales numbers for the two games. Together, their sales are comparable to those of the previous entry in the franchise, 2013's Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, which had reached 10 million units shipped on its own by the end of 2013.

Black Flag was available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Unity was released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, while Rogue launched on PS3 and Xbox 360 and is coming to PC March 10. Black Flag sales were down from 2012's Assassin's Creed 3, which shipped 12 million units during the same period in that year.

Sales of the Just Dance franchise continued to decline, even though they were better than Ubisoft expected. Ubisoft tallied 4 million shipments of Just Dance during the quarter, whereas Just Dance 2014 shipments totaled 6 million units a year prior. That number was lower than the 8 million units of Just Dance 4 that Ubisoft shipped during the same period in 2012.

Ubisoft has shipped 10 million units of Watch Dogs since the game's debut in May 2014. The third quarter included the release of the Wii U version in November. The sales make Watch Dogs the "biggest launch ever of a new IP" in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the second-best in the U.S., said Ubisoft.

"We are now capitalizing on the investments we have made over the past several years to further develop our creative strengths, boost our marketing impact and extend our digital footprint. Our performance is all the more impressive given that it is wholly the result of Ubisoft's teams," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, noting that The Crew is an exception because developer Ivory Tower is an external studio. "Each of these successful games was developed by our in-house studios and we own our brands, which means that our destiny is in our own hands and we are internalizing the value created for our shareholders."