Ubisoft’s popular Assassin’s Creed series has been going strong in sales since it was turned into an annual franchise with the release of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. For fans, however, the yearly schedule has started to take its toll on the franchise, with quality levels that seemingly alternate between good and bad every other year. With Assassin’s Creed Unity launching to sub-par reviews in 2014 from critics and fans alike, due to a large amount of performance and gameplay related bugs, Ubisoft has finally made the decision to end the annual release cycle.
In a post on Ubisoft’s blog to thank the fans for their support, the Assassin’s Creed team also confirmed that the popular series is taking a break in 2016 so the company can re-evaluate the franchise. The group is taking a step back in order to use this year to evolve the game mechanics so the franchise can return to being a premier open world franchise. The team also confirmed that they’ve updated their development processes and have learned a lot based on fan feedback.
We’re taking this year to evolve the game mechanics and to make sure we’re delivering on the promise of Assassin’s Creed offering unique and memorable gameplay experiences that make history everyone’s playground.
This isn’t the first time fans have heard the annual franchise could be taking a year off. Earlier this year, reports out of Kotaku, who correctly leaked the Victorian Era setting before it was officially announced, indicated that Ubisoft was considering pulling Assassin’s Creed from their 2016 lineup. In addition, details surrounding the next game also leaked indicating that players would be taken to Egypt, placing the timeline of the game farther back than any previous release. Empire, as it is code named, could be Ubisoft’s attempt to create a new era in the series, focusing on a world that’s three times as big as Black Flag, and set prior to either Assassins or Templars having officially formed as factions.
It’s also interesting to note that Empire was scheduled for 2016, but the final decision to stop the annual release process came back in 2014 with the disappointing launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity, something that Ubisoft owned up to prior to the release of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. As for Syndicate, it was actually too far along in development to shift at that point, which is why it came out last October instead of also being pushed back into this year.
The move is somewhat surprising, especially considering the company praised the annual release cycle a few years ago, even going so far as saying to not support the yearly demand would be very stupid. As sales have slowed down in recent years and consumer trust declining, though, it seems that philosophy has finally changed.
How do you feel about this news? Would you have liked to have seen a new Assassin’s Creed this year or do you think taking a year off can only help the series going forward?