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Assassin’s Creed’s monstrous sales might explain why Ubisoft is open-world obsessed

Above: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the latest in the open-world action series from Ubisoft.

Image Credit: Titan Books

The titular creed in Assassin’s Creed is: “Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” If the series’ publisher had its own creed, it would probably go something like this: “Assassin’s Creed prints money; we should make another one.”

Ubisoft, which develops and publishes the open-world Assassin’s Creed action games, updated the sales figures on its corporate website recently (as first spotted by GamesIndustry International), and it revealed that Assassin’s Creed is by far its best-selling franchise. Since debuting in 2007, Ubisoft has sold more than 73 million copies of Assassin’s Creed games. Its next closest series is Just Dance at 48 million.

That huge number explains why we’ve seen six mainline console Assassin’s Creed games and why we’re getting a seventh later this year in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. It also justifies Ubisoft’s efforts to spin the series off to other platforms like portable devices and mobile.

We’ve reached out to Ubisoft for comment about the performance of Assassin’s Creed and what it might mean for the future of the company. We’ll update this story with its response.

Ubisoft updates the sales for all of its major, active franchises. Check it out below:

  • Assassin’s Creed: 73 million
  • Just Dance: 48 million
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: 30 million
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: 26 million
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: 25 million
  • Petz: 24 million
  • Rayman: 25 million
  • Imagine: 21 million
  • Prince of Persia: 20 million
  • Driver: 19 million
  • Far Cry: 18 million
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids: 14 million
  • The Settlers: 10 million
  • The Experience: 9 million
  • Anno: 5 million
  • Your Shape: 3 million

This definitely puts Assassin’s Creed in the top echelon of triple-A games. Between its six console games and a handful of releases for DS and Vita, it sells an average of 10 million copies per release. That compares favorably to other big-name franchises like Call of Duty.

In March 2012, following the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, publisher Activision revealed that the series had sold 100 million copies. That was across eight releases, which means the shooter games were averaging around 12.5 million in sales. That’s actually a bit low considering Black Ops 2 was the best-selling Call of Duty ever when it came out in the following year and 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts is likely bringing up that number as well.

The success of Assassin’s Creed has not only prompted Ubisoft to release a new one each year, but this has also encouraged it to look at new ways to bring elements of that property into other genres. In May, Ubisoft will release its modern-day, open-world hacking game Watch Dogs. In the months after that, the publisher also plans to debut an open-world racer called The Crew and an open-world shooter called Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Industry analyst Doug Creutz told us that it is safe to assume that Assassin’s Creed’s sales figures are guiding Ubisoft’s decision making going forward.

You’ll notice that each of its upcoming games is “open world” first. Ubisoft clearly thinks that is the key to Assassin’s Creed success, and it is keen to replicate that as it starts releasing more products for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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More information:

Activision (Activision Blizzard) is an American video game developer and publisher headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, but now operating worldwide. It was the first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consol... read more »

Ubisoft is a leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment products. Present in 28 countries with 26 studios and a distribution network that spans more than 55 territories, Ubisoft has won over gamers wor... read more »

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