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Ubisoft may have just got caught red-handed. Now before I get started I would just like to get the point across that I love Ubisoft. I think they’re one of the best western publishers and developers out there and I tend to enjoy most of their games. I have a deep respect for the people that work there as they all seem to have a genuine passion for gaming, and of course, as a Nintendo fan, I respect them for essentially being the biggest supporters of the Wii U despite the shunning that these other 3rd-parties have done. But something fishy is going on here, and I’m going to have to call Ubisoft out on it.

Speaking with Games Industry earlier this week,  CEO of Ubisoft  Yves Guillemot revealed that the Wii U-exclusive wasn’t even close to making a profit, which in turn means there are no plans for a sequel. He also explained that ZombiU’s supposed low-performance is also the reason why Rayman Legends got delayed and went multiplatform.

“We must find a way to ensure the creativity of those games could have a big enough audience. We hope it will take off. At the moment, we’ve said ‘let’s do through Christmas and see where we are from there.'”

Now I don’t mind developers and publishers not bringing certain games over to the Wii U if they have legitimate reasons. For instance, Avalanche Studios (the creators of Just Cause) stated that they’re not bringing any games to the Wii U [so far] because the install base isn’t to their liking. That makes perfect sense, and nobody can blame them for that. But with Ubisoft’s situation here, there’s holes in Guillemot’s reasoning.

How did ZombiU not make a profit? Guillemot even when as far as to say that the game didn’t come “remotely close” to turning them a profit, but how?

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For a genre that isn’t know for crazy sales, ZombiU sold pretty damn well.

According to VGChartz, ZombiU has sold 470,000 units on the Wii U. Keep in mind that VGChartz’s numbers are usually behind and they also don’t track digital sales. So it’s safe to assume that this game has sold well over 500k units. And before people spout-off-at-the-mouth about how 500k sales is low, remember that the Wii U has only sold around 3.5 million units worldwide, so 500,000+ units out of 3.5 million is a very good attach ratio.

Now a lot of you might be scratching your heads at this, stating, “I don’t get it, 500k is too low for a lot of big-budget games these days to turn a profit.” But that’s point I’m making here; this game was low-budget.

Don’t take my word for it. The same man who is now claiming that ZombiU didn’t turn a profit is the same man who back in the Summer of 2012 stated that Wii U development doesn’t cost very much at all. “Out of seven games we are planning to launch five games are ports, so those are games for which there is a quite small reinvestment to do,” said Guillemot. Ubisoft indicated that Wii U ports cost about 1 million euros (a little over $1.2 million) (Games Industry).  For those who may no nothing about how much games cost to make, just know that 1 million dollars to port or make a game is dirt cheap.

Connecting two dots together, remember what ZombiU was before it was ZombiU? Killer Freaks From Outer Space. And Ubisoft stated themselves that originally this game was in development for 360 and PS3 before they decided to port it over to the Wii U. Now, yes, it isn’t a simple port like other games that were finished on the 360 and PS3 and then were ported over to Wii U, so it did have a lot more development time on the Wii U than it did the other systems. But still, it was not a game that was built ground-up for the system.

Not only that, but despite this game not being a traditional port, Yves Guillemot still insisted on saying that ZombiU is a low-budget game compared to other AAA Ubisoft titles. “The two games that are original are ZombiU and Rayman Legends, so those ones of course are more expensive but we are not talking about games today, like we were spending on Ghost Recon or Assassin’s Creed. So they are much smaller of cost”, stated Guillmot in that same Summer 2012 interview. “Because as we’ve always said when there is such an innovation the need is not to have big production value but to concentrate on the innovation This is what we are trying on Rayman and ZombiU.”

So the game was admitted by Ubisoft to be a low-budget game. And you can tell. The graphics, while ok, were nothing special. In-matter of fact, Florent Sacré, co-creative director on ZombiU, stated himself that the team did not focus on the graphics and visuals of ZombiU, but rather creativity. And as we all know, an online mode was considered, but not implemented into the game. There was also pretty-much only three voice-actors in the entire game, so it’s not like they had to pay much for that either.

So average graphics, minimal voice work, no online component that could’ve taken up time and resources, and the game wasn’t even built ground-up for the Wii U. This leaves one, very important question: How in the world did this game not turn a profit?

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A sequel could really refine the ZombiU formula. Don’t cop-out Ubi.

To re-iterate, this game has sold well over 500,000 units. Taking all of the facts I’ve listed here into consideration, how could a game such as ZombiU not turn a profit by selling half-a-million copies? That simply makes no sense, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. And not to mention, this is a very niche genre game. It’s survival-horror, they don’t sell as much as platofrmers or shooters or racers. These kinds of games don’t appeal to everyone. So just how much did you expect this game to sell Ubisoft? It was a brand new system coming out, you had a decent niche survival game, and you expected it to somehow sell 2 million units? Things just don’t add up here.

So it seems to me that Ubisoft may be trying to cop-out here from making a ZombiU sequel, and also falsely using this title as justification for delaying Rayman Legends and turning it multi-platform as well. As I said with Avalanche Studios, if developers have legit reasons to not bring a game or games to the Wii U, I’m A-OK with that. But Yves Guillemot’s reasoning simply doesn’t add up, and undoubtedly is full of holes. Just say “We don’t want to make the game” or “We want to focus our resources on other games” and call it a day. But don’t sit here and fabricate stories that can easily be seen-through by your average every-day gamer.

Now yes, I don’t know exactly how much money was spent on this game. And yes, I was not on the development team. I could be completely and utterly wrong and Ubisoft could come out and confirm their budget and completely destroy this article. I realize there’s not way for me to actually determine just how much this game costs to make. And if Ubisoft were to somehow catch wind of this article and correct, I will humbly apologize, admit I was wrong and hasty to judgment, and take this article down. But I’m just going off the facts here that Ubisoft have laid out themselves.

Let me know what you guys think down below.

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33 Responses so far.

  1. B Crecente says:

    Uggh… The font on this site really frickin’ hurts the eyes! Quit trying to be flashing and artsy and be functional first. Jeebuz.

  2. Aiddon says:

    Actually, one of the modes on thewiiu.com noticed that article is….odd. Firstly, the writer doesn’t cite sources. Furthermore, that paragraph he used talking about Guillemot…is suspiciously lacking a source or even quotes. Some are actually wondering if the writer outright just made that comment up. It’s very odd.

    • mike says:

      I’ve been telling people the same thing. We had a tweet from the zombiu developers around april saying that they working on a prototype for a sequel. The article was pure bs

  3. Nia says:

    Great article!

  4. DarthDlggler says:

    Compared to Assassins Creed or any Tom Clancy game I am sure Zombi U didn’t have nearly the same budget. That being said I don’t think it’s unreasonable of Ubisoft to project and expect to sell more than 500,000 units for that title (given the popularity of Zombies).

    That being said Ubisoft isn’t in the business to create games that put out 500,000 in sales. That level of sales just isn’t really enough to properly keep their gears moving so to speak. It may seem like a lot of money to you and I but you have to figure in marketing and all that went into making the game R&D, Prototyping, Voice Acting (if there is any), Development (Art, Story, Code), Licensing (Music, Guns, etc).

    I think you are being very simplistic here. Publishers and developers can’t be producing material at a premium that doesn’t bring about a decent return on their investment. We aren’t talking about loss leaders like Best Buy or Target. We are talking about an industry that requires a great deal of savvy, technical know how and business experience to navigate the marketplace (especially in this economy).

    If Zombi U was a money make Ubisoft would be making a sequel. They aren’t just going to lie to Wii U players because they are dicks. 🙂

    • Shokio YT says:

      Thank you for the calm, level-headed reply. You bring up good points.

    • TCompton301 says:

      Well if you do the math and even if Nintendo and Ubisoft split the profit equally, they both made approximately 15mil. This is by far larger than the budget of making ZombiU.

  5. IKIRYIPT says:

    who cares nintendo is dead next gen release a next gen console or lease your 1st party games to the big boys because it is pathetic right now, a new zelda or mario game isn’t enough to save this console. Sad never thought i would see the day nintendo lost touch with the gamers, no 3rd party support = r.i.p

    • TCompton301 says:

      The “big boys” huh?? I’m so tired of hearing this. But fine lets run with that statement. If Sony and M$ are the big boys then that makes Nintendo the Big Man. Nintendo has a next-gen console capable of running great games, but is being treated like it was made in the 90’s. Most 3rd Party devs are too worried about their bottom-line to learn the architecture in order to put out quality games. They are also creating the problem by not putting games on the Wii U because if the games aren’t there then the install base doesn’t grow, so of course they won’t make money. If they take the risk and release more games then more people will buy the Wii U, which means more games being bought. Besides 3rd Party devs aren’t really offering anything truly new and exciting anyway.

    • Bill Bist says:

      What is game cube? what is nintendo 64?
      Wii U is not dead and you know it. Who the hell cares about mediocre ports?

  6. Felipe says:

    Just to correct your point about niche, Resident Evil in it’s first iteration on PS1 sold 5 Million (about 10x more than this game), ZombieU may have sold low because it’s not a so great game (even tough WiiU have sold just 3,5M units, there was almost no good third parties, so it was expected that the few good would sell good)… and about the cost, between a port costing 1,2 M and less than AC you don’t now how much it costed, could be around 10M (Tomb Raider said to not break even with 2,5M sold)… so this accusation is pretty much “i think it is a lie” without real back up.

  7. OrangeJews says:

    Zombi U a low budget game??! LOL, sure it is low-budget when compared to one of the biggest games in the industry.

    If the 500k numbers are to be believed then Zombi U income was about 10 mil USD, less than an average cost of PS3/360 game. It’s not hard to believe Zombi U didn’t break-even.

    So maybe next time bring a proper evidence before saying that Ubi is lying based on nothing more than your guess.

    • Of course, this still leaves the new Rayman and ZombiU titles, but Ubisoft again insists that the cost of those two games is nowhere near the kind of expense that would be seen on the current HD consoles.

      “The two games that are original are ZombiU and Rayman Legends, so those ones of course are more expensive but we are not talking about games today, like we were spending on Ghost Recon or Assassin’s Creed. So they are much smaller of cost.”

      So ZombiU and Rayman both costs less that the development of the modern day 360/PS3 games, so you can use their cost to gauge this.

  8. James says:

    Not being funny, but yeah the budget was probably small, but the advertising campaign for the game definitely wasn’t, as near release I saw more trailers advertising this game than I did for the console itself.
    There are multiple other factors when it comes to a games profits other than just the development budget.

  9. jmpittman0220 says:

    Just like Dice said that Frostbite 3 wouldn’t work on the WiiU, Ubisoft will change their tone once the WiiU sales get better.

  10. Wolf says:

    Blaming WiiU for it’s sales? well, the game isn’t so good, so, you can expect poor sales from a regular game. you simply can’t get awesome numbers with a regular/bad product.
    Capcom also must blame PS3 and 360 by regular sales on RE6 that is supposed to be an huge successful in the RE history? with so hype the game suppose to sold some 10 millions, instead of it, sold so less.
    If the game was something better, I think it also may sold at least the half of WiiU owners.

  11. Drake Vargas says:

    If Ubisoft is so concerned about more profit from ZombiU, why not port it to 3DS, which provides the all-important 2nd screen? Ubisoft can’t complain about a poor 3DS install base.

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