Ubisoft CFO Frederick Duguet revealed recently that The Division 2, despite being the best-selling game in the US in March 2019, and that the game exceeded quality expectations put forth by numerous gaming review sources, the game fell short of its sales target expectations.
The statement by Duguet occurred during a recent call with investors, and an explanation was offered that this shortfall of expected sales on consoles could be attributed to “fierce competition” in the market, which is akin to saying that one may get wet while walking in the rain. The statement should mean literally nothing from an industry leader in an industry that publishes over 9,000 titles per year, with that number always growing. Duguet then concluded that the most recent content release involving multiplayer raids would push sales to greater levels.
What is truly interesting here is that in the past week, players of The Division 2 were sorely disappointed that the developers have not included a matchmaking system for the very Raid content touted by Duguet as the point that will drive sales. In addition, since the release of the new Raid, one group was able to fully complete all the content within five hours of its launch, making it unlikely that it will sustain player interest for long.
All of these points create a necessity to discuss player expectations within the video game industry. Regardless of how we choose to treat games, be it as entertainment to pass some time, or as something to become more heavily vested into with long-term character progression, developers make explicit and implicit promises to their potential consumers, and they in turn expect these to be met in good faith.
Most of this could be solved with better communication. While Ubisoft did not implement matchmaking for its raid, it did at the same time cancel plans to increase the gear score cap prior to the raid launching, which should make it easier for pick-up groups to complete the new content. One is not a substitute for the other, but the case could be made now for encouraging players to form their own groups. In addition, more time between the release of the Raid and the revelation that no matchmaking would be coming would have likely helped with the negative reaction.
However, this was not presented in a transparent way to the consumer, and so the backlash has been apparent in online discussion. Or perhaps better than backlash, the disappointment. If Ubisoft initially promised features from the game so easily and with little warning, what hope is there of regaining that lost trust in the future?
If Ubisoft hopes to sell additional units of the game and also future DLC content, it should consider first keeping its promises to the initial customers who believed in the project from the beginning.