Ubisoft has published its financial results and reports, and having reported losses has been outlining plans and expectations for a successful coming year; pre-orders for Watch_Dogs and other major releases are cited as positives, though despite Just Dance 2014 hitting six million sell-in units and evidently performing well on Wii, Ubisoft is predicting a "strong decline" in the casual market, not listing the dancing franchise among its biggest confirmed products of the coming year.
No doubt a new entry or two in the dancing series will come later this year and perform relatively well, but it's telling that Ubisoft's reports only reference the Wii U once in terms of important products, and that's the already-released Child of Light. Although Watch_Dogs — which the company claims is the most pre-ordered new IP in gaming history — is expected in 2014 on Wii U, mentions of the potential blockbuster generally focus on the upcoming 27th May release date on all platforms but Nintendo's. In a graphic highlighting the Digital Distribution market — another major focus for the company — the eShop is conspicuous in its absence.
After a few years of solid support — with some controversial decisions thrown in — from 2011 to 2013 for both 3DS then Wii U, Ubisoft has released nothing of note on the 3DS and appears to have been moving through (for the time being) final projects for the home console. Sales per platform perhaps show why — in the most recent financial year the Wii U contributed just 3% of overall sales; Xbox 360 and PS3 provided 27 and 25% respectively, with 9% and 6% across the PS4 and Xbox One. The 3DS contributed 0% as there were no actual games, while the Wii is right up there with 11%, no doubt thanks to Just Dance. The question is, how long can the Wii sustain these sorts of numbers, especially as it was a drop from 16% of overall Ubisoft sales in the previous year? Wii U, for the record, dropped 1% from its 2012 / 2013 figure.
We'd expect the new Just Dance entries this year to support the Wii U and, probably, the Wii once again. The challenge for Nintendo is to shift a good number of sales to its newer hardware to encourage more Ubisoft support for the system; it's possible, of course, due to the simple fact that if major first-party releases can boost hardware sales, more gamers with Wii U systems in the living room may shift their purchases of the dancing game from the older hardware. It's a tough scenario — if Ubisoft doesn't offer enticing games Nintendo gamers may not bite, but if sales numbers of games released are low then it won't produce high quality games for the systems.
Ubisoft support for Nintendo hardware is, at this moment, as low as we've seen in recent years. It's a situation that can be improved, yes, but also a reminder that much work needs to be done to draw major publishers such as Ubisoft back to the big N's consoles.