Ubisoft confident on big Wii U bet

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:55pm EDT

Yves Guillemot, cofounder and CEO of Ubisoft speaks at a news briefing during the E3 game expo in Los Angeles, California June 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Yves Guillemot, cofounder and CEO of Ubisoft speaks at a news briefing during the E3 game expo in Los Angeles, California June 4, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot hopes Nintendo's upcoming Wii U will be the first of a line-up of new consoles that will give the video game industry a boost and help reverse the French company's waning fortunes.

Shares of Ubisoft, known for its "Assassins Creed" franchise and its "Just Dance" games, are down 20 percent from a year ago but up 8 percent since Jan 1.

Microsoft and Sony have not come out with a new hardware platform in at least six years, excluding the motion-sensing "Kinect" for the Xbox 360 console.

With Nintendo set to release the Wii U for the holidays, and Microsoft and Sony expected to follow suit in 2013, the industry could benefit via a major sales boost, Guillemot said.

"As soon as (consumers) see good quality products and good experiences that are coming that will bring the industry back to a huge growth, they come back and the share price goes up quickly," Guillemot said.

He added, "I think very soon people will be confident in the potential of the video game industry and we will see a big increase in the value of the company."

Ubisoft has made a bold bet on the first console from Nintendo in six years by launching eight new game titles for the Wii U. Some of the games exclusive to the Wii U include ZombiU, a zombie-themed game and the comedic Rabbids Lands featuring rambunctious creatures the company created.

The French games publisher said last quarter that it returned to a full-year profit as online sales rose. Net income for the fiscal year ended March 31 was 37.3 million euros ($47 million), after a 52.1 million euro ($65 million) loss a year earlier.

Guillemot said he was confident that the demand for the Wii U will be strong. He said he expects Nintendo to manufacture 5 million units in the first six months of its launch

"Generally, that's what (Nintendo) does. The number can be more, it can be less... they are always limited in the number that they can build," Guillemot said.

Nintendo said that it expects to sell 10.5 million units of both the Wii and Wii U this holiday season but has not broken out how many Wii U devices will be shipped.

Guillemot said he does not view the investment on the Wii U as risky because he said games launched with a new console sell well.

"It's easier at the beginning of the console cycle to astonish people and bring them new experiences than at the end of the cycle. So the risk that is seen as a big risk by many is actually the contrary," Guillemot said.

(Reporting By Malathi Nayak and Liana Baker; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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