In case you hadn't heard, or hadn't assumed, James Cameron's Avatar: The Game sucks and its sales suck too. Much like any good game developer who has a flop game that was supposed to be a major seller, Ubisoft has begun to march in the excuses. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot laid them out in a recent company conference call. It turns out that it's the movie's fault (came out at the wrong time), the holiday's fault (missed the holiday sales window) and release schedule's fault (couldn't hold on to post-holiday sales), but it is not because the game sucked.
"We knew we were taking [some risk]," Guillemot said. "The fact that the movie was coming in December was a potential problem, and it did result in a problem." Ubi thought the game might continue to sell well in the new year but it followed the traditional 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]," he added. "It doesn't work as well for a video game company."
Guillernot went on to say that the short development cycle on tie-in games was also to blame for the overall quality of the game and that Ubisoft would be doing far less movie tie-ins and focusing more on putting out high-quality offerings of its established franchises.
What is so great about all of this is that it completely and totally contradicts every word that came out of Ubisoft's mouth at E3 last year. Avatar was a centerpiece of their press conference, with James Cameron rambling on about it for more than 30 minutes and the devs discussing how they had had unparalleled access to the film and plenty of time to work on the game. They even discussed how major movie tie-in games were a big part of Ubisoft's future plans in becoming a multimedia giant. Ubi claims that the poor sales of Avatar were not that bad, but if that is the case why does it sound like the company has completely changed their business plans based around the sales of this game?