Ubisoft thinks the Golden Age of Piracy is a stronger theme globally than the American Revolution, but for the sake of being "prudent" has forecast lower sales for Assassin's Creed 4 than AC3 managed this past financial year.
Ubisoft did similar for new cross-generational IP Watch Dogs, with CEO Yves Guillemot forecasting that, "We believe the game can perform as well or even better than Assassin's Creed 1 back in financial year '07." Assassin's Creed 1 managed greater than 6 million sales that year. "However," he added, "our target reflects more conservative expectations," although he didn't say what that was.
Assassin's Creed 3 broke the magical 10 million mark during the financial year ended 31st March 2013, shifting 12.5 million copies - a number comprised of shipped boxes and digital sales.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, during the company's follow-on earnings call, said: "The American Revolution was very appealing for our gamers, and the Golden Age of Piracy may be just as exciting, if not even more. Our targets conservatively reflect lower sales expectation for AC4 than for AC3."
He revisited the remark during the Q&A part of the call: "And to come back to Assassin's Creed 4: In our numbers we expect less than last year, but we are actually pushing to achieve more than last year because we think the pirate segment is a great segment that can generate a lot more on a worldwide basis than was achieved last year. But we wanted to be prudent on our expectations so it can only be a bonus if it comes."
The success of Assassin's Creed 3 - by far the best-selling title in the series so far - rounded off a good year for Ubisoft. Breakout success Far Cry 3 has now shipped 6 million units, and stalwart best-seller Just Dance 4 shipped 8.5 million.
Next year, Ubisoft expects even more, with AC4, Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Watch Dogs heading the list.
"We will also be delivering one unannounced franchise and one unannounced new brand," said Guillemot. "Both titles have a strong potential and we will unveil them during the course of the year." If only there were a major gaming event just around the corner...
On top of that there's Rayman Legends and the newly signed South Park: The Stick of Truth, both of which are "highly anticipated by a very engaged and committed community", apparently.
"All-in-all we believe our line-up for core gamers offers significant growth opportunities for this year."