LibertÃ©! EgalitÃ©! FraternitÃ©! Money! Assassin's Creed might be one of Ubisoft's most popular and critically-acclaimed video game series, but it also happens to be one of the most lucrative franchises that the company owns. It's such a reliable cash cow, in fact, that this year the publisher is stepping up the annual release schedule even further by releasing not just one but two new main Assassin's Creed games on consoles.
Assassin's Creed: Rogue, another addition to the Kenway saga will release on Xbox 360 and PS3, while Assassin's Creed: Unity will release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. While Rogue will revive the naval gameplay that's now familiar after the last two main entries in the series, Unity will return to dry land as players explore revolutionary Paris in the shoes of Arno Dorian, an Assassin with a history of loss and a determination to help others.
Assassin's Creed: Unity is bringing at least one thing with it from the Kenway days, however, and that's microtransactions. First introduced to the series in Assassin's Creed III, microtransactions will also be featured in Assassin's Creed: Unity, senior producer Vincent Pontbriand told OXM at Gamescom 2014. It seems that the microtransactions will allow players to "hack" items and equipment that are usually unlocked through gameplay, in order to have access to them earlier in the game.
Plenty of gamers dislike microtransactions on principle, whether because they believe further monetizing a $60+ product is just plain greedy, or because they consider fast-tracking through the game's unlock system to be a kind of developer-endorsed form of cheating. Generally, however, microtransactions are at their most tolerable when they're easy to ignore and don't disrupt the gaming experience for those players who have no interest in them.
Pontbriand wouldn't confirm this was a case of one or the other, but promised that decisions regarding monetization aren't made lightly.
"There's a couple of things like that we'll always have to be on the lookout for... Companion apps, monetization, other business models, digital only... We have to be reactive to these things, but not necessarily fundamentally change what we're trying to do... It depends. If we think it fits the gameplay, or the brand itself, the core values, we're willing to take those risks. If not, then not. We're not going to make any compromises."
Assassin's Creed fans who want to lavish even more money upon the franchise can also now pre-order a variety of special editions of Assassin's Creed: Unity, including the Collector's Edition, the Notre Dame Edition and the Bastille Edition. Next year will also see the franchise break through into mainstream cinema as Ubisoft Motion Pictures releases its first feature film, Assassin's Creed, which is rumored to be set during the Spanish Inquisition.
Microtransactions were really to be expected in Assassin's Creed: Unity, considering the fact that they've already been established in previous games, but Pontbriand's words instill confidence that gamers who don't like paying extra shouldn't find their play disrupted by the presence of monetization.
Assassin’s Creed Unity releases October 28, 2014 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.