When you look at AAA publishers in the gaming industry today, there’s one thing you have to give Ubisoft credit for, owning up to what they’ve messed up on and not being afraid to take risks with their IPs (intellectual properties). Trying to be creative is something we’ve seen a lot from Ubisoft so far this generation.
No matter if you are looking at their major AAA franchises or their small, indie-like games, Ubisoft has been making a conscious effort to not become a company that is stagnant. When you take a look at the games they’ve already released and will release for the PS4 and Xbox One, you can’t ignore games like Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rainbow Six: Siege, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Child of Light, Valiant Hearts and yes, even Watch Dogs.
While a game’s hype level may not always benefit it in the end, I’ve seen Ubisoft work to create games and worlds that are outside of conventions. At a recent event, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot talked about their reasoning to create “new, long-term IP” and that making “stable investments” are all part of their strategy.
Some of the company’s new endeavors have panned out, while others haven’t as much. Regardless of performance though, the company reaffirmed its philosophy and business model. This was led by the CEO of Ubisoft Montreal Yannis Mallat who said the company must continue to “take risks with each game” and “invest early in new hardware.”
Recent projects that struck a positive tone with gamers, Grow Home and Child of Light, are successful examples of Ubisoft enabling their developers to be creative in a somewhat independent manner. Mallat said they embraced these projects since it gave people the chance to be creative and “not just focus on big IP. Risks pay off when it’s something people are passionate about.”
Fans gravitated towards the Child of Lights because they were exceptional games, innovative worlds and stared characters people cared about. It’ll be interesting to see what sorts of smaller experiences Ubisoft releases over the next year.
With so much new IP on the horizon, I’m intrigued to see what they do with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Should the other projects the company is working on find significant success, it might afford Ubisoft the chance to reassess the Assassin’s Creed series and even give it a year or two off. I could see Watch Dogs take its place as being a yearly franchise and Assassin’s Creed eventually rebooted. This year’s Assassin’s Creed is probably one of the most non-Assassin’s Creed game I’ve ever played, but I’ll expound upon that sentiment in an upcoming preview on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
As you can read in our feature on what Ubisoft is doing with virtual reality (VR), the company seems to be investing in that technology sooner than later, like they did with the Wii U. No exact or final projects were shown off at the event, but Ubisoft did manage to spike my intrigue with an intense demo they had staring Far Cry 3‘s Vaas and a demo where I flew around a city as an eagle. They have some very unique concepts for VR, but it remains to be seen how these ideas will translate into full game experiences.
Ubisoft is known for their open-world game prowess and has some of the industry’s biggest franchises that are open-world games. This was acknowledged at the event, as was the fact that “5 of the 10 best selling games in 2014” were open-worlds.
This genre will continue to be a significant part of Ubisoft’s future game portfolio and we saw that already with Ghost Recon Wildlands, which was unveiled at E3 a few weeks ago. Of the new IP they’ve introduced this generation, The Division, Watch Dogs, The Crew and Ghost Recon Wildlands are all examples of their open-world support on new-gen, not to mention what they’ve done with Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.
Finally, open-worlds interest Ubisoft due to their online and social possibilities. Connecting gamers has been the primary theme of games like Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed Unity and The Crew. When you look at many of Ubisoft’s upcoming games, connectivity is in their DNA. I think an important thing to mention is that multiplayer and co-op should not eliminate single-player games because those are still in high demand, no matter how much the former are forced into single-player games.
Systematic gameplay was another element of story-telling they focused on, and this was talked about as it relates to gamers creating their own, unique experiences. Far Cry 4 was referenced as an example of this, what with the choices players had to make and all. Ghost Recon Wildlands is embracing this as it allows players to experience missions in any order they wish, whether alone or with friends.
Ubisoft has done a fabulous job of supporting the new generation of consoles with frequent releases and interesting, new IP. Some of their launches have gone better than others, but the desire and passion has been there in each game. We’ll see how the rest of 2015 shapes up with Rainbow Six: Siege and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate launching, Our coverage for The Division and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate will be up very soon.