Ubisoft’s Plans for a Smorgasbord of Assassin’s Creed | PlayStation & Nintendo Go Head-to-Head
Ubisoft: Can There Be Too Much Assassin’s Creed? Publisher unveils extensive multiyear, multimedia roadmap for franchise
Gamers have a fever, and the only prescription is more Assassin’s Creed — at least if you ask Ubisoft. At its recent annual Ubisoft Forward event, the company announced a whopping half-dozen projects. This strategy could break open the Chinese market while leveraging owned IP in a more live service-like model, but it’s potentially setting Ubisoft up for disappointment.
An Absolute Smorgasbord
- Assassin’s Creed: Mirage: The series is returning to its original Middle Eastern setting with a “shorter, more narrative-driven game”
- 2023 launch on last-gen & current gen consoles, PC, & Luna
- Codename Red: Focused on “open-world RPG design,” the title finally answers longtime fans’ calls for an entry set in feudal Japan
- Red would more closely resemble the most recent mainline entry, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Codename Hexe: Little was revealed, other than that the game would be very different from previous entries
- Teaser trailer has a darker & more mystical tone
- Codename Infinity: Not a game, but more of a social hub or game launcher
- Infinity itself will be free, but some content will be paid-Includes multiplayer
- Will connect overall story and meta-narrative of individual games
- Codename Jade: RPG/action-adventure mobile game set in China
- Netflix Multimedia: Ubisoft announced plans to bring three games to the streaming service
- An original Assassin’s Creed mobile game, as well as two non-Assassin’s Creed mobile games
- Also a live-action streaming series and animated content
A Company With a Plan
For Ubisoft, these moves make sense on several levels. They may not be very original, but one can’t fault the company for at least iterating on success.
- Work With What You Got: Internally, these games align with Ubisoft’s desire to “have a better long-term approach” with its flagship franchises. They also open up transmedia opportunities, as emphasized by Chief Portfolio Officer Sandrine Caloiaro.
- Games-as-a-Service: Ubisoft is already notorious for this (see Rainbow Six Siege), but the company more than ever is doubling down on ensuring its games have long life cycles – and spending cycles.
- An Eye On China: Codename Jade could be Ubisoft’s best chance at breaking into the notoriously tough and insular Chinese gaming market. It’s going to be released on the dominant gaming platform in China and features a local setting to boot. Coming on the heels of Chinese gaming giant Tencent growing its stake in Ubisoft to 49.9% earlier this month, Ubisoft is clearly serious about making a go at Chinese gamers.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to see Ubisoft executing a plan so grand without hiccups.
- Market Saturation: Short of film juggernauts like Harry Potter or Star Wars, it’s hard to recall so many projects being unveiled at once. Even if these planned games play differently, they will all carry the same branding — and potential baggage of previous releases.
- Even the gold standard of franchise iteration, Call of Duty, is not immune to brand fatigue
- Overpromise, underdeliver: There is a very real chance that due to the inherently chaotic and unpredictable nature of video game development, titles are likely to encounter delays. This could mean pared back games or late releases, neither of which will thrill gamers.
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PlayStation & Nintendo Go Head-to-Head Companies showed off upcoming games on the same day
It was a peculiar but packed Tuesday, as both Nintendo and PlayStation scheduled game showcases on the same date. Who came away with the bigger buzz?
PlayStation Brings Out the Big Guns
Sony didn’t come to play around, with trailers for both God of War Ragnarok and Tekken 8, as well as other reveals. For those interested in PlayStation’s strategy this generation, the two aforementioned titles are worth keeping an eye on.
Better Late Than Never
For all the talk of games-as-a-service and Sony’s reduced focus on first-party exclusives, God of War Ragnorak is a big deal. Its performance will likely have significant implications on Sony’s plans for traditional narrative games with limited live service features.
- It’s effectively the first proper PS5 game from a top tier Sony IP and the kind of release that historically made people buy a console
- Sony also announced a limited edition God of War: Ragnarok PS5 controller
- The good news is its November 9 release date is in time for the holiday season
- The bad news is that delays mean its launching right around the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 & Call of Duty: Warzone 2
The eighth entry in the longtime Tekken fighting series was officially announced, although it’s still early in development. While fighting games are relatively niche in the modern landscape, they are still very prominent in esports. Don’t be surprised if Sony mashes ties together Tekken 8 with its increased focus on esports via its Inzone peripherals brand.
- Despite PS5 branding, it will be multiplatform
- Tekken is still the second most popular fighting game in esports, after Streetfighter
Nintendo may not have had as many big announcements as PlayStation this time around, but the official reveal of the next Zelda entry, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, is massive. For many, the preceding Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the reason they bought a Switch. This next entry will launch May 12, 2023; given the date, it’s likely to be the last exclusive Zelda for Nintendo’s venerable handheld console. Other noteworthy announcements include more releases in classic franchises, as well as additions for online play.
- A trailer for Bayonetta 3, which releases October 28
- Re-release of Goldeneye 007, which originally launched on the Nintendo 64
- Will include multiplier
- The free addition of golf for Nintendo Switch Sports
- A new mainline entry in the Fire Emblem Series, Fire Emblem Engage, coming January 20, 2023
Supply Drop: Games & Players
Upcoming Games (September 16 - 22)
Construction Simulator - PC, PlayStation, Xbox
The Dark Prophecy - PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
The DioField Chronicle - PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Gundam Evolution - PC
Hardspace: Shipbreaker - PlayStation, Xbox
Hidden Through Time: Definitive Edition - PlayStation, Switch
Potion Permit - PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Return to Monkey Island - PC, Switch
Serial Cleaners - PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Session: Skate Sim - PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Slime Rancher 2 - PC, Xbox
Soulstice - PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Train Life: A Railway Simulator - PlayStation, Xbox
Various Daylife - PlayStation
Most Anticipated: Return to Monkey Island is a narrative-driven puzzle game where players will "return to [the] point-and-click swashbuckling" made popular in the original titles while "embark[ing] on Archipelago adventures."
While technically the sixth game in the franchise, the new title is the first from developer Ron Gilbert since 1991's Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, taking place right after the conclusion of the 30+ year old game.
The latest title also hopes to bring the now iconic puzzle (and hint) system into the modern age, combined with storytelling, to bring a conclusion to a story over three decades in the making.
Comms: Social Campaigns
The Tap: News to Go
- VR: Media Outlets are getting their hands on Sony’s PlayStation VR2 for the first time. While no price or release date has been revealed yet, reception over all appears to be quite positive. Given Meta’s recent price hike for the Quest 2 and the improved quality of PS VR2, an increase from the original PlayStation VR’s price of $299 seems likely.
- GPU: Intel gave Digital Foundry a chance to put its XeSS upscaling technology through its paces. The upcoming open-source alternative to the gold standard of upscaling technology, Nvidia’s DLSS, seemed to perform adequately. This could be a much needed win for Intel amid its rocky Arc Alchemist video card launch.
- GPU: Nvidia is teasing the reveal of its next generation of video cards at its upcoming GeForce Beyond presentation on September 20. They're expected to be substantially more powerful and power-hungry than current video cards. Nvidia is almost certainly to kick off the generation at the top of the product stack, even though demand for video cards has plummeted in recent months.
- Software: Ubisoft confirmed that its upcoming release, Skull & Bones, will be its first game at a $70 price point and the standard price going forward for its AAA titles. The publisher’s move comes a bit later than price hikes from other publishers, like PlayStation. It’s also a bit of a gamble given that Skull & Bones has been in development hell for nearly a decade, rarely a good sign historically for a successful game.