While the recently announced delay of Red Dead Redemption 2 to early 2018 is sad news for fans (unless they consider it time well spent perfecting the game of course), it is a breath of fresh air for all of Rockstar and Take-Two’s competitors who feared severely diminished sales in the latter half of this year due to the highly anticipated Western title.
Ubisoft is among those relieved by the delay and this should come as no surprise. In spite of being a leading figure in the gaming industry with several highly popular AAA franchises under their control and one of the strongest E3 presentations this year, Ubisoft is going through hard times right now.
A hostile takeover attempt by fellow French multimedia company Vivendi, who formerly owned another industry leading developer and publisher Activision Blizzard, is underway. Not a year ago Ubisoft published an open plea towards fans and investors alike to help them out, either by buying shares away from Vivendi, or simply by buying their games instead of pirating them.
Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez spoke about the effects of the Red Dead Redemption 2 delay on Ubisoft’s upcoming quarter during the company’s latest investor call, and detailed how it will help the performance of their games on the market.
Clearly the fact that there is no Red Dead Redemption  is a positive for our fiscal year 2018. This is something that we had taken into our [financial] assumptions. So the absence of that game is of course giving us a better window for the launch of some of our games.
Ubisoft has projected some favorable increases in sales with up to 34% improvement over the previous quarter. Some analysts were puzzled by this, however Martinez clarified that the figure included the delay of Red Dead Redemption 2, as well as allowing for specific launches such as Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Season 3 in For Honor and another expansion pack for the popular team based shooter Rainbow Six: Siege.
Additionally, later releases this year are some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises coming back from long breaks.
After two years, Assassin’s Creed is back with Origins, taking the stealth action series to ancient Egypt. Joining it is South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the follow-up to The Stick of Truth which was also delayed several times. Both of these games have been anticipated for a long time and have avid fanbases. Assassin’s Creed in particuar is widely thought to be a blockbuster in the making.
However, had Red Dead Redemption 2 stuck to its projected release date of Fall 2017, both of these titles would have suffered for it in terms of sales.
As it shares the open-world nature of Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Origins would have suffered the most since the target demographic is largely the same for both games, leading to most players buying Red Dead, playing it for months, then grabbing Origins at a discount, if at all.
Nonetheless, this won’t be actively affecting Ubisoft release schedules, meaning that the company didn’t choose to pounce on the now unmuddied period of Fall 2017 to release games planned for other dates. Game releases are meticulously planned in advance for optimal sales based on an extensive market analysis.
Red Dead Redemption 2’s hype train is chugging along unhindered despite the lack of official news since the delay announcement and screenshot dump, further standing testament to how popular this game managed to become even before launch. The title is sure to steal the show for months once it’s finally released, and any game unfortunate enough to share launch month will suffer for it.