Ubisoft says it’s ‘surprised’ by Mario + Rabbids sequel’s underperformance

Ubisoft has revealed its ‘surprise’ at how Nintendo collaboration Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has underperformed commercially in its opening months.

In a financial update published on Wednesday, the French publisher said it was “facing major challenges” in face of tightening consumer spend, and claimed that sales over the key holiday season had been “markedly and surprisingly slower than expected”.

Sparks of Hope and Just Dance 2023 were named as two games which failed to meet expectations.

“Despite excellent ratings and players’ reception as well as an ambitious marketing plan, we were surprised by Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope underperformance in the final weeks of 2022 and early January,” it said.

In an investor call held following the publication of its financial update—which also saw Ubisoft cancel three unannounced games and delay Skull and Bones yet again—the company said it believed recent releases were negatively impacted by a consumer shift “towards mega-brands and long-lasting titles”.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope – Cinematic trailer

Sparks of Hope released in October 2022, weeks before some of the year’s biggest blockbusters in God of War Ragnarök, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

“When there’s more pressure, people go for the biggest brands, and they don’t go for the small ones,” said CEO Yves Guillemot.

“What we have observed is that there has been some contraction in overall consumer spending coming from the economic environment and rising inflation.

“As you mentioned, that has led to the biggest mega-brands and live services taking a larger share of the market, leaving less available consumer spending for other launches. That’s the clear conclusion that we’ve taken. We’ve seen that there are other games of high quality that have underperformed”.

The exec said he believed in the long-term, the Rabbids sequel would still “do good numbers”. Its predecessor, released in 2017, reached over 10 million players, according to Ubisoft.

“All we can say about Rabbids is that the game has been really well appreciated by players: we are getting community ratings that are excellent. We feel that the game is going to do good numbers over time, but the beginning was not at all what we expected.”