Ubisoft is going even further with a revamp and expansion of its Assassin’s Creed series that will include console, PC and mobile games, a return to multiplayer and an expanded partnership with Netflix.
Why is this important: Through Assassin’s Creed, the multinational game publisher is trying to regain quality, productivity and reputation after several rather dark years.
- Assassin’s Creed had already been a bright spot for the company, with 2020’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the 12th mainline game in the series, becoming the first to gross $1 billion.
- But the series’ releases have slowed, some of the games’ senior developers have left, other Ubisoft projects have failed, and the company remains rocked by workplace misconduct scandals as of summer 2020.
Details: Six new Assassin’s Creed games were previewed to Axios and other media in Paris at Ubisoft headquarters. They include 2023’s Assassin’s Creed Mirage, a scaled-down PC/console/streaming installment set in 9th-century Baghdad, the undated, large-scale Codename Red set in feudal Japan, and another major release named Hexe code.
- Two mobile games are also announced, a free-to-play open-world adventure called Assassin’s Creed Jade, which takes place in ancient China, and an unspecified AC that will be offered through Netflix’s mobile game service.
- A new Assassin’s Creed multiplayer game called Invictus is also coming from developers Ubisoft who worked on the Rainbow 6 Siege and For Honor multiplayer franchises.
Between the lines: As part of a production overhaul, Ubisoft is planning longer development times for its Assassin’s Creed games, with Project Red, led by Ubisoft Quebec, getting more than three years of development that the studio had to complete in 2018 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
- “By giving teams the same development budget in terms of months of development over a longer period, we believe our games can achieve higher quality and be more sustainable from a human and technological perspective,” said the executive producer of the series, Marc-Alexis Côté. journalists.
- Red should be an epic, with years of post-release support, similar to recent Assassin’s Creed games. It’s expected to achieve the extended playtimes of Odyssey and Valhalla that have thrilled some players, but fatigued others.
- Hexe, led by original franchise studio Ubisoft Montreal, probably won’t be that long. “We’re not going out with another 150 hour game right after Red,” Côté said of Hexe’s release. “These games can live simultaneously. It’s because they’ll approach game design, they’ll approach structure very differently.
The Infinity twist: Ubisoft will offer these AC games differently, connecting them through a hub called Assassin’s Creed Infinity that will serve as an interactive portal to access games past, present and future.
- Côté told Axios that the Infinity approach would allow some studios to work on smaller projects, and pitched the idea for work led by Ubisoft’s studios in Chengdu, Sofia, and Singapore. (AC Games not in development, despite rumors, Côté confirmed to Axios: a remake of the first Assassin’s Creed and a “crossover” series set in Egypt.)
- In a major format change, Infinity will also house all new meta-story parts of Assassin’s Creed, the serialized modern narrative that previously appeared in every mainline AC.
A cloud of scandal: Allegations of workplace misconduct and abuse of power led to the departure of several high-profile men from Ubisoft’s studios in mid-2020, followed by workplace reforms that received mixed responses.
- These issues had a direct impact on Assassin’s Creed, leading to the firing of AC Valhalla’s creative director and raising questions about allegedly toxic management involving Côté and Odyssey creative director Jonathan Dumont, who now oversees Red.
- Ubisoft still declined to discuss specifics, but said anyone named in the news articles had been investigated and disciplined if necessary.
- Côté told Axios that he “didn’t recognize himself”, in a press article criticizing him. “But clearly some people saw me that way and I have to admit that.”
- He said he “got up in front of the whole studio and apologized for any mistakes I may have made” and started talking to people in the studio about how he needed to improve. He learned that he sometimes made comments that hurt workers, comments that he felt were not meant to hurt those co-workers. “It suffocated them inside and made them feel disrespected.”
- He also thinks he has been more responsive to potential abuse: “We intervene much earlier when there is a situation that could lead us down the path of harassment.”
The bottom line: Ubisoft sees Assassin’s Creed as the vehicle to pull the company out of a slump, diversify its production, set an example for other internal franchises and, if Side’s assessment of reform is accurate, clean up its act.
- The proof will come in years to come, in a future suddenly dense with new Assassin’s Creeds.
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