Yesterday, Kotaku broke news that next year’s Assassin’s Creed title would be set in Victorian Era London. The report came following leaked information, which, while unfortunate for Ubisoft, is virtually par for the course when it comes to Assassin’s Creed games.
Following the Kotaku story, gamers were abuzz with musings regarding the new game. The central core of Assassin’s Creed titles always relates to a new historical location in which the game takes place, but the choice of Victorian Era London seemed to leave many with a lackluster taste in their mouth.
While I am by no means thrilled by the setting of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Victory, I certainly think there could be worse ones to choose from. The real problem, as far as I am concerned, is in the notion that the setting for next year’s Assassin’s Creed game has been revealed. Next year. As in 2015, a year that starts in twenty-some odd days.
Less than a month ago, Ubisoft released both Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Rogue, both of which were met with middling reviews and complaints of myriad problems by critics and consumers alike. I’ve previously written about Unity’s issues coming off as nothing short of sloppy work due to intense pressure to ship the game on time, something that has not only plagued Unity, but a handful of other major video game releases this year.
It is in the idea that Ubisoft, seemingly with blatant disregard to their numerous hiccups in 2014 (from both Assassin’s Creed titles and Watch Dogs), is already hard at work on Assassin’s Creed Victory that is genuinely concerning, not the unremarkable setting of the game.
Following Unity’s release, numerous members of games media took issue with the clearly rushed state of many of this year’s games, making one wonder why Ubisoft seems so keen on getting the newly announced Assassin’s Creed game out in 2015. Why not scale back for a year?
Assassin’s Creed, as a franchise, started in 2007. In the following seven years, twelve games have been released, with at least one title a year. From 2009 onward, not a year has gone by without a mainline series entry being released, leading to what is undoubtedly the industry’s biggest case of oversaturation.
It doesn’t take an economist to understand why Ubisoft seems to intent on carrying this tradition onward with Assassin’s Creed Victory; the games sell well. It does take a dedicated fan, however, to justify slamming another Assassin’s Creed game out within a year of Unity’s false start.
Video game fans are notoriously outspoken when it comes to just about everything, and there is little doubt that the outlash following Unity was heard by the publisher. Changing up the setting, even if it were a decidedly more interesting location or time period, does little to leave the bad taste in the gaming world’s mouth.
Of course, the Assassin’s Creed games are not the only franchise to continually oversaturate the market, just the worst offender. Call of Duty has also been frowned upon for its consistent release schedule, although not to the extent that Ubisoft has pushed Assassin’s Creed. Both franchises are industry heavyweights and bring in small fortunes with every release, but at a certain point, it’s safe to say that enough is enough.
Games are a strange medium in that consumers tend to crave something that feels both wholly new while retaining some familiarity to players. Steering too far in either direction risks isolating consumers, something that publishers desperately fear when it comes to a franchise as huge as Assassin’s Creed. As such, it comes as no surprise that everything about the newly announced Assassin’s Creed feels remarkably safe.
Assassin’s Creed Unity, the first title in the series to release exclusively for the new generation of consoles, attempted to take the series in a new direction while retaining the vast majority of its predecessor’s mechanics. By placing a large emphasis on multiplayer, cooperative gameplay, Unity looked to usher in a new directive for the series.
After levying a risk in Unity and suffering the repercussions of a poor launch, it appears that Ubisoft is willing to go back to the basics once more with Assassin’s Creed Victory, a move that surprises no one but disappoints many. After the deluge of Assassin’s Creed games, it would have taken a bold step to truly wow, excite, or even pique the interest of the gaming world with a new title. Instead, we are left with what appears to be a standard Assassin’s Creed title in a blasé setting that is sure to leave a lot to be desired. Oversaturation is never a good thing, and Ubisoft will have to learn this lesson sooner or later.
I want an Assassins Creed game set in Siberia where I can hide in snowblinds and kill people with broken vodka bottles after wrestling bears
— Raymond A Porreca (@Ray_Porreca) December 2, 2014
For the record, I still think an Assassin Creed game set in Siberia would be the coolest thing ever.
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