When it comes to annual franchises most believe that short, oftentimes rushed development time frames typically lead to a decrease in quality. It's why most wait for reviews on EA Sports titles and why Call of Duty moved to a three-year cycle.
The Assassin's Creed franchise, on the other hand, has been able to get away with annual releases thanks to a major push from nearly a dozen mini-studios. Not anymore, though, as the company just announced that Ubisoft Quebec will share some of the developmental load on future Assassin's Creed titles with the Montreal studio.
Although the details aren't entirely clear, it sounds as if Quebec and Montreal will alternate development roles on Assassin's Creed titles moving forward, or at least for the next game. This, in theory, should give both studios more time to polish every yearly AC title. That isn't to say each Assassin's Creed was conceptualized and designed in a year – in most cases each game was handled by a different team – but now the various studios will have even longer to work on games.
"For Montreal, this decision gives us more time. We've released a lot of Assassin's Creed games in Montreal every year and sometimes we wish we had more time to make decisions and experiment on stuff."
Ubisoft Quebec is no stranger to the Assassin's Creed franchise either, as they have helped Montreal in many different ways. They were the studio responsible for AC 3's Homestead feature and put out the Black Flag DLC expansion Freedom Cry. In fact, Montreal started expanding earlier this year, likely in preparation for this announcement. They even appointed AC 3 producer Francois Pelland as the head of the studio.
This news comes shortly after reviews and early impressions for the latest Assassin's Creed title, Unity, hit the Net and caused many to question the series' annual cycle. As most know by now, the game has some significant performance issues on current-gen hardware and feels barely optimized.
While Ubisoft typically takes care to ensure each of their releases meet a certain standard, the Assassin's Creed franchise has been a different matter. Games like Watch Dogs, The Crew, and The Divison can slip past their intended release date, sometimes even more than once, but Assassin's Creed hits every fall without fail. But with this new two-studio approach, Ubisoft will hopefully be able to ensure higher quality AC releases while still hitting that October/November mark.
Do you think passing off some Assassin's Creed titles to a second studio will help the series regain its footing? What do you think it will take to ensure better quality moving forward?