When you’re a giant video game publisher, you’re probably currently involved in some kind of controversy or challenge or another, but even though Ubisoft has recently flown under the radar in the face of bigger scandals than its competitors, at this point, I really must be wondering.. .
Is Ubisoft okay?
The company doesn’t seem to be in the best places right now, looking aimlessly toward the future while betting on every new trend that happens. Let’s summarize what made me ask this question in the first place:
- On a recent earnings call, Ubisoft announced the cancellation of Ghost Recon: Frontline, the big battle royale they were planning to make that was drowned out in YouTube hate when it first came out. Previously, Ubisoft had tried and failed to get a land battle royal with Hyperscape, and this was supposed to be its second major attempt, this time tied to a major IP address.
- That same call revealed a delay for Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, which won’t appear alongside the new movie this holiday. You could argue that agreeing to get a huge budget licensed avatar game in the first place is a huge risk in itself.
- As part of the move away from that technology, Ubisoft canceled Splinter Cell VR, which struggled to break out of its niche.
- Also reportedly delayed is Assassin’s Creed Rift, a smaller game in the franchise, which is said to be “too behind schedule”. Ubisoft is currently in the midst of trying to figure out where Assassin’s Creed is going from here, moving from annual releases to making Valhalla now a live service, to Assassin’s Creed’s new “platform”, Infinite, which aims to produce smaller experiences often. But all this seems rather incoherent at the moment.
- Ubisoft has a release date for Skull and Bones this fall, which is good in the sense that the game that everyone thought died a few times will actually come out, but the reception of what has been shown so far, only ship combat without intrusive pirates, is silent, and it’s unclear how it will be performance of the final product.
- Beyond Good and Evil 2, which was announced in 2016 amid huge fanfare, is all but gone, though Ubisoft claims it hasn’t been shelved yet and has told investors it’s still coming one day.
- Ubisoft was the first company to publicly embrace the use of NFTs in its games, putting them in the Ghost Recon Breakpoint, causing industry laughs, and the NFT/blockchain plans are now said to have shrunk or evaporated as a result.
I could go ahead with more picks (The Division 2 stops live development, restarts it, and then switches to a live service future with Heartland, the last of the few Far Cry games that were barely scored), but you get the idea. Ubisoft doesn’t seem to have a clear direction across many of its studios, and their recent attempts to chase the trend, from Battle Kings to NFT production, have either failed or exploded on the launch pad.
It’s odd to think that Ubisoft’s biggest and most visible success story of the past decade might be Rainbow Six Siege, and I’m not sure anything has accomplished that, except perhaps a bunch of Valhalla sales that made this game a hit. It’s an odd time for the company, and in an era of “everyone being taken over,” I wonder how this shapes their prospects on this front.
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