With certain games, you have an idea of why they’re being made. Let’s use the Call of Duty series as an example. Every year there’s another entry. The gameplay mostly remains the same. Some maps from previous installments appear, with minor tweaking. It’s not so much about providing unexpected and groundbreaking developments with every installment as it is about keeping people buying Call of Duty . They’re mostly about the money. This doesn’t make them bad games, but it does make developer motivations suspect.
Assassin’s Creed could have been considered one of those series. Yearly installments, not much development in the modern day storyline, and sometimes what appeared to be a little too much focus on ensuring there’d be more for people to consume than the quality of the shipped product. Except now, Ubisoft has made two decisions that make us wonder if there’s a shift in mentality. The series is skipping a year, with no entry coming in 2016, and the company is focused on getting Assassin’s Creed Chronicles completed.
Taking a title out of the release list to focus on quality and development is huge. Especially for a company like Ubisoft, which creates financial expectations that count on that annual Assassin’s Creed Christmas cash. Taking a break shows a certain level of respect for the series and its developers. Ubisoft is giving the people making the next game an opportunity to be more creative and do more than before, since they don’t have to worry about the demands of having it out for the holiday shopping season.
The recent attention to the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series suggests the same sort of respect and attention. The China entry was released back in April 2015, and then Ubisoft took nine months to get India out. With Russia , we only had to wait a single month. Suddenly, these side-stories, where the focus was on unexpected aesthetics, new characters, and occasionally even storytelling, were important. Ubisoft backed the riskier and more unexpected entries, which had a chance of doing more in terms of character and world building than some of the more conventional installments in European or American locales.
That Ubisoft was willing to do such thing is an unexpected surprise. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles became a priority, and the look and quality of both India and Russia show it was a decision worth making. This, coupled with the sudden decision to take a step back, allow the team to think about what it’s learned from major entries, like Assassin’s Creed Unity , and then move forward, renews your faith in AAA games, developers, and companies like Ubisoft. Even though it probably is still about making money, the pause shows that it isn’t the only reason the Assassin’s Creed series is around, and that’s reassuring.