Assassin’s Creed took a year off in 2016 for the first time after having at least one new blockbuster-sized release per year since 2009. But despite some strong sales for 2017’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Ubisoft is saying that it plans to make fewer games in the future.
Instead of a bunch of annualized franchises, Ubisoft is embracing live-services. It is generating steady, ongoing revenues from hits like 2015’s Rainbow Six: Siege, and it wants to bring that type of continual support to all of its games.
“[Ubisoft’s] success reflects the industry’s move towards a model that is less dependent on releasing new games,” Ubisoft chief executive officer Yves Guillemot said in a statement. “New releases now only represent a part of our business, which is now focused on long-term engagement with our player communities.”
What does “long-term engagement” look like? Well, that’s the goal of all “games-as-a-service” products. Developers have found that they can attract and keep an audience through online multiplayer, frequent updates, and regular major content drops. You can expect most Ubisoft releases to feature these elements in the future, according to Guillemot.
“We overhauled our portfolio, developing numerous multiplayer games in recent years which have dramatically increased player engagement in the Ubisoft world,” he said. “Our players not only play for more hours at a time, but do so over a period of months or even years. We are thus able to offer them new experiences and content, thereby extending the lifetime of our games.”
Essentially, Ubisoft has done the math and determined that long-lasting games are a better investment than annual flashes in the proverbial pan. Even for games that are primarily single-player, like Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft is not necessarily looking to jump ahead to the next major release.
“We are concentrating on Assassin’s Creed: Origins for which we are going to launch a few other DLCs,” Guillemot told investors during a conference call. “You will be amazed by what will come on Origins, so that’s the only thing we can say for now.”