In the world of AAA publishing, Ubisoft has managed to pull off a development cycle that competitors can only dream of. While the ‘overlapping’ project structure (shifting satellite studios from support roles on larger games as they reach completion) has helped the Assassin’s Creed series pump out yearly installments, it is Ubisoft’s veteran Montreal studio that has led the overall design and direction. Until now.
With Ubisoft Montreal currently hard at work on Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Rainbow Six: Siege (among others), the publisher confirmed today that Ubisoft Quebec – located less than three hours away in Quebec City – will be the lead developer on a future (not necessarily the next) entry in the core Assassin’s Creed franchise, officially sharing the task of ushering the series into a new generation of consoles.
The movement and shared responsibility of top talent within Ubisoft has been long-documented, with the creative director of AC3 Alex Hutchinson now leading the charge on Far Cry 4. But the official announcement confirms that after putting in work in a support role, Ubisoft Quebec is being entrusted with envisioning a new game from top to bottom. Nicolas Rioux, Managing Director of Ubisoft Quebec explains:
“Since 2010, our understanding of the franchise has increased each year… We were involved in Brotherhood. We were involved in Revelations. We were involved in Assassin’s Creed III. With AC III we were working on the biggest DLC for the franchise — The Tyranny of King Washington. After that we were also involved with Freedom Cry. We have the confidence of the brand team and also from Ubisoft to take leadership of an upcoming Assassin’s Creed title. The team is ready for the next big step.”
The studio’s work on the open world Homestead of AC3 and the surprisingly strong ‘Cry Freedom’ DLC prove that they know their way around an AC title, but Ubisoft’s plan of elevating the Quebec City offices has been in place for some time. Having just committed $4 million of a total $28 million to establishing a cutting-edge facility in a newly-updated and trendy Quebec City neighborhood – a location they’ll reside in until 2028 – it’s clear Quebec will soon hold two powerhouse studios for the French publisher.
But before anyone assumes that Montreal will be handing off the keys to the franchise in favor of a new series once they’ve finished adding cooperative play to the formula, Ubisoft Quebec’s executive director of development Francois Pelland (himself a veteran in the franchise) explained to CVG that teamwork will still be a top priority:
“For sure, the Quebec team is absolutely going to bring something new and something creative. That’s a guarantee… Montreal studio is a big, mature studio which we’ve learned so much from and we want to work with – it’s a true partnership. We’ve obviously established over the years a relationship with key people there and we feel like it’s the right time to take on leadership of a title in that franchise.
“It doesn’t mean Assassin’s Creed is now in Quebec forever, it means we’ll take one game in a leadership role and continue to work closely with Montreal. As you’ve seen before, the collaboration between studios is key for the success of Assassin’s Creed.”
It’s still unclear exactly when the game in question is projected to release, since the new offices won’t be completed until 2016. But Pelland confirms that while they are currently assisting Montreal in development of Unity, the project they will be leading is another next-gen-only title. The only other AC game rumored to exist is Assassin’s Creed: Comet, the previous-gen release whose absence at E3 has led us to believe Ubisoft has changed its plans, or is letting Unity enjoy its press for now.
Is Ubisoft Quebec already well underway in creating the next next-gen story and hero? That would seem to be the case, but don’t expect Ubisoft Quebec to spill the beans too soon. Do you think Ubisoft has shown enough collaborative success to add a new lead studio, or do you think any team outside of Montreal will have something to prove? Share your thoughts (either optimistic or skeptical) in the comments below.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity will be released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in late 2014.
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