by Enrico Sciacovelli and Victor Goury-Laffont

(Reuters) – French video game maker Ubisoft on Tuesday maintained its guidance for the 2023-2024 financial year, citing renewed interest in blockbuster titles, after posting the biggest operating loss in its history.

The maker of the hit “Rainbow Six” franchise posted a non-IFRS operating loss of 500.2 million euros for the full fiscal year 2022-2023, in line with the target announced in January, due the deteriorating economy and delays in game production.

The family business has been penalized by game delays and cancellations in recent years, and recorded an estimated depreciation of around 500 million euros in 2022 due to research and development expenditure.

“As part of the gradual reallocation of our capital, we notably plan to increase the number of talents working on the Assassin’s Creed brand by 40% over the next few years,” said Yves Guillemot, co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft. , in a press release.

The company fell below 20,000 employees, the company said on Tuesday, from 20,700 at the end of September, after announcing a 200 million euro cost-cutting plan during its earnings warning in January.

Financial director Frederick Duguet indicated during a press conference that 80% of the drop in the workforce was linked to voluntary departures not replaced.

The group has also reaffirmed its intention to integrate generative artificial intelligence (AI) into the development of its games, after presenting in March “Ghostwriter”, an internal AI tool designed to write the first drafts of dialogue of the non-player characters.

The Paris-listed publisher confirmed its estimate of annual non-IFRS operating profit of around 400 million euros, while forecasting net bookings of around 240 million euros for the first quarter.

Ubisoft’s upcoming releases for 2023-24 include Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a new installment in the company’s flagship franchise as well as the long-delayed Skull & Bones and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, although the company hasn’t given a precise timetable.

(Report Victor Goury-Laffont, Enrico Sciacovelli, Nathan Vifflin, edited by Kate Entringer)

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