At some point in the last console generation, Ubisoft lost its soul. It’s been a piecemeal erosion process that began in 2015, finally leading to a complete breakdown of identity somewhere between the studio’s non-kinetic rollout of in-game NFTs and the sixth delay of skull bones. Ubisoft has 40 years of AAA successes and weird licensing deals to its name, and it used to be a pillar of European innovation — but in 2023, it’s selling bland live service and mobile ports with microtransactions and unreliable release dates. What’s up He is Ubisoft anymore?
Ubisoft has been a company longer than most of its gamers have lived through. It is responsible for developing and publishing hundreds of games, including such popular franchises as Prince of Persia, Far Cry, Trackmania, Toms Clancy, Rabbids, Rayman, Just Dance, and of course, Assassin’s Creed.
At the company’s Summer Game Fest show, we got bids for Massive Entertainment’s big licensed games, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora And Star Wars Outlaws, as well as a proper look at the new 2D Prince of Persia game, which actually looks pretty good. But mostly we’ve seen sequels, direct service games, and mobile titles. XDefiant It is a team based free shooting game that we have seen after extraordinary performance in sea shanties skull bones – A live service game that we actually played in 2017 and 2018, but has since been relegated to oblivion. Then there were many mobile games first like split back And Assassin’s Creed Codename Jadeand a new Crew game, The Motorfest Crew. We also got another TV show from Ubisoft and a look at Assassin’s Creed VR. It was far from the worst event of Summer Game Fest, but it didn’t do much to get people excited about Ubisoft.
So, let’s talk about how we got here.
Everything changed for Ubisoft in 2015. Assassin’s Creed: Unity It shipped last November and has proven to be the most flimsy installment in the series to date. It was the first Assassin’s Creed game built for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and Ubisoft surpassed it on all fronts: lonliness It was riddled with visual and mechanical glitches, and was so unplayable at launch that Ubisoft publicly apologized for the game and eventually released free DLC, all while furiously rolling out fixes. In the same year, Ubisoft made its debut watch dogstoo — and that game was also a disappointment from a visual standpoint, especially compared to its 2012 teaser trailer.
Up until this point, Ubisoft had had an annual Assassin’s Creed cadence, releasing one mainline entry per year from 2009 onwards. Association In 2015, and by 2016, Ubisoft was being vocal about series fatigue and announced plans to re-evaluate its approach to supporting franchises. Notably, producer Jed Raymond left Assassin’s Creed and Ubisoft altogether in October 2014, prior to lonliness disaster.
This was the stage when the French media investor group, Vivendi, attempted to acquire Ubisoft. Vivendi began buying stock in the studio in 2015, and Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has gone on a publicity stunt against the raid, arguing about the importance of remaining independent onstage at E3 and beyond. Meanwhile, the Guillemot family, who had founded Ubisoft in 1986, made purchases of their own, increasing their control over the studio along with Vivendi. The battle ended in 2018, when Vivendi agreed to sell all of its shares in Ubisoft for roughly $2.5 billion, a significant return on its investment. This deal was possible because Vivendi sold a large portion of its ownership to Tencent, an existing investor in Ubisoft and one of the largest video game companies in the world. At the exact same time, China’s Ubisoft and Tencent announced that they had entered into a strategic agreement that would bring Ubisoft’s games to PC and mobile devices in China. Since then, Tencent’s stake in Ubisoft has grown significantly, and today, in addition to its own studio shares, it owns 49.9% of Guillemot Brothers Limited.
I feel like you could see this period of financial turmoil in Ubisoft’s creative output between 2015 and 2019. Ubisoft was constantly releasing entries in its established franchises, but it wasn’t developing original, genre-changing hits like it used to be. The studio was kind of coastal. In 2019, Ubisoft delayed a number of the big games in its lineup – including skull bones, again — and the executives said they wanted to slow down further between releases. In 2020, Ubisoft faced serious allegations of systemic sexual misconduct and sexism, and a handful of longtime leaders were fired or resigned.
On an investor call in 2021, Ubisoft’s CFO said the company is focused on building its free-to-play and mobile game library. Since then, Ubisoft has done just that, developing mobile games Rainbow Six, The Division, and Assassin’s Creed, and focusing on live-service iterations of its franchises old and new. Ubisoft has also seriously tried to make in-game NFTs a thing… no.
latest Assassin’s Creed games, Valhalla And Epic, they were fine, but they suffered from the same open-world bloat as Far Cry, offering very large worlds with very little variety or innovation. The studio’s latest announcements include licensed games, direct services, mobile entries and special offers for microtransactions – with Assassin’s Creed represented in most of these categories. The most interesting Assassin’s Creed title on Ubisoft’s list is Mirage, the next mainline entry set for release in October. It is the intense Assassin’s Creed experience that was initially conceived as a piece of DLC Valhalla, which is a tribute to the series’ roots, with an included map and a return to stealth combat first. It looks like the original Assassin’s Creed – which maxed out at 15 hours or so, rather than the 60 in recent games – and seems like the kind of thing Ubisoft players have been looking for over the past eight years. Unfortunately, Ubisoft doesn’t see it that way, and only charges $50 for the game. That’s not a bad thing for gamers, but when Ubisoft charges $70 The Motorfest Crewit says something about how the studio sees value in terms of game size and paid DLC, rather than substance.
to me, Mirage A welcome step back in scope, but it feels like an accident in Ubisoft’s broader plans to build free-to-play experiences and mobile games for a global market. The studio may be on the cusp of a renaissance, with room to find its own voice and change the direction of entire genres again, but I don’t think microtransactions and open-world gibberish will push it that far. Ubisoft used to be both outlandish and lucrative in the world of prestige games, but both of those descriptions are quickly fading away as the studio chases hot monetization trends and relies on the innovations of other creators. Mirage It represents one path for Ubisoft, chasing quality design rather than accounting goals. game like XDefiant Represents other potential entirely – it may be profitable, but it’s not really like Ubisoft.
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