With Ubisoft confirming not one but two Assassin’s Creed games for 2014, talk of franchise fatigue has once again entered the conversation. Any annual release, be it Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, or Madden is susceptible to claims the innovation is lacking, and today Ubisoft addressed the issue head-on.
While gamers might think that Ubisoft is dead-set on their yearly Assassin’s Creed release schedule, they are actually not. In fact, as they have recently revealed, they would not think twice about delaying a future AC release is the quality was not up to snuff.
According to Ubisoft North America President Laurent Detoc, the developer feels that releasing a game that’s anything less than 100% eventually damages the brand.
“If we think we’ve ended up with a 70 percent Assassin’s Creed game, we’re not going to ship it. That damages the brand. I’m not going to give you the names of products, because you know them as well as I do, but if you start to make games at 70 percent, even with a big brand, eventually people are going to change their mind about that brand. They won’t want it anymore. That’s what saves the recurrence.”
Thus far, Ubisoft has yet to delay any Assassin’s Creed release, aside from a few PC ports, suggesting that they have been satisfied with all titles thus far. While that is a debate best saved for another day, the fact of the matter is Ubisoft has shown several times they are not afraid to delay a game, even one with a huge profile like Assassin’s Creed.
Just look at Watch_Dogs — one of the most anticipated games of the year, and a big potential next-gen system seller – yet Ubisoft decided to delay the game at what seemed like the 25th hour. Similarly, Ubisoft has shown they aren’t afraid to scrap an entire project and start again, like they did with Rainbow Six: Patriots.
Obviously, Assassin’s Creed is a little different — a pattern and an intense demand has been created for those games — but Detoc doesn’t believes that because each Assassin’s sequel delivers something fresh that it’s not important to keep things at a high level. As he explains, 10 million gamers might pick up last year’s game, and a completely different 10 million might show interest in this year’s, either because of the new setting, the new mechanics, or the new main character.
“Last year, to pick a round number, we had about 10 million people playing Assassin’s Creed. When we come up with an Assassin’s Creed the next year, there’s another 10 million brand new people who might be interested in the new setting, because of the new history, or the new naval battles and the pirates. It’s a variation on gameplay from even last year.”
Although Ubisoft’s recent comments and the announcement of two 2014 games likely have no correlation it’s nice to know the developer is aware of gamers’ concerns. The publisher dumps a ton of manpower into the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and while that turns into a 30-minute end credits extravaganza it also means the end product is getting all the attention it needs, and then some.
For now, the franchise is still going strong, but it will be interesting to see how Ubisoft responds if the games start to decline in quality.
Do you believe Ubisoft when they say they wouldn’t be afraid to delay an Assassin’s Creed game? Do you think the annual releases hurt the franchise?