Ubisoft is one of the most recognizable figures in modern gaming, for reasons both good and bad. The French giant is known for creating some of the most valuable and beloved IPs such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, among many others. On the flip side, it has repeatedly come under scrutiny for reasons such as predatory business practices and mistreatment of employees via a toxic work culture.
Immortals Fenyx Rising was a great game that was received well by many fans and critics alike. Skull and Bones, on the other hand, is undergoing a tough phase right now with development issues and frequent creative clashes. Both are definitely great concepts that originated from roughly the same sources, but there is a multitude of reasons as to why Ubisoft should focus more on games like Immortals Fenyx Rising than Skull and Bones.
Skull and Bones Is Emblematic Of Ubisoft’s Weaknesses
Skull and Bones has yet to release, with little information coming since it was indefinitely delayed a while ago. It isn’t exactly fair to dismiss a game before fans even have a proper look at it, but recent developments on the business side of Ubisoft make Skull and Bones seem emblematic of the problems within the company at large.
Skull and Bones sees players inhabit a shared open-world, where they can participate in jolly cooperation against computer-controlled opponents or battle it out against each other for rewards and loot. It’s clearly aiming for a live-service model with frequent content updates keeping players hooked for a long time. While nothing can be definitively said right now, the shift to a live-service model for future releases seems to be directly related to Ubisoft’s continued pursuit of raking in a continuous source of income with each release.
In a recent earnings call, many high-ranking officials within the company revealed that Ubisoft will start to shift focus away from traditional releases towards free-to-play experiences, which by extension includes live-service titles as well. This sentiment is further strengthened by the recent announcement of two new live-service titles – Assassin’s Creed Infinity and xDefiant.
With the exception of The Division 2 and Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft has more or less failed to deliver on its promises with its live-service offerings. The new Ghost Recon games haven’t been well received, and neither have its free-to-play offerings such as Hyper Scape and Elite Squad. Despite that, Ubisoft seems adamant on pursuing more of this model in games like Skull and Bones while also working on Beyond Good and Evil 2. Unfortunately, both titles are currently embroiled in a flurry of controversies and rumors surrounding their development.
Immortals Fenyx Rising Is Emblematic Of Ubisoft’s Strongest Suits
While many fans might have dismissed Immortals Fenyx Rising due to its striking similarities with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s still one of the strongest titles to come from the publisher in recent times. A strictly single-player game with a vast and varied map to explore, filled with a litany of quests to tackle and activities to pursue, makes Immortals Fenyx Rising a treat for fans of the open-world genre.
Ubisoft has built its entire reputation around narratively driven single-player experiences, with games like Prince of Persia and the earlier entries in the Assassin’s Creed series being titles that arguably made the company a household name within the industry. In addition to this, Ubisoft has also mastered the craft of creating an engaging open world that shines brightly with Immortals Fenyx Rising’s Zelda-esque exploration and quest structure. That being said, its insistence on sticking to its rigid open-world formula has invited a lot of criticism from fans, and rightfully so.
This shows clearly via Ubisoft’s most highly anticipated release for 2021, as Far Cry 6 is also a narratively driven single-player experience. Ubisoft seems to be finally listening to fans of the franchise, promising to deliver a darker and more grounded narrative with intriguing villains and protagonists alike. The amount of hype and speculation riding on Far Cry 6 is proof that fans want to see more single-player offerings from Ubisoft, which seems to be a far cry from what Ubisoft wants from its projects that are currently in development.
Ubisoft Doesn’t Have To Make One Type Of Game
Variety is the essence of life, and locking oneself into a single type of release can be restrictive on a creative level. Halo’s original developer Bungie split from Microsoft to create its live-service looter shooter Destiny, which is regarded as one of the best games in its genre. It’s not uncommon for studios to pursue projects that fall outside their comfort zone. Even if they may not always work, they play an integral role in moving the industry forward nevertheless.
Ubisoft venturing into uncharted territory with live-service titles should be appreciated, and the developer’s insistence on trying to refine its formulas within the format is also a noble pursuit in some aspects. That being said, it’s still difficult to shake the fact that Ubisoft’s insistence appears to be heavily reliant on monetary interests more than anything else. Thus, it’s also important that the French giant plays to its strength, developing more of the traditional single-player games that fans love so dearly.
Ultimately though, what it comes down to is getting the balance right. As mentioned before, locking oneself into a single format adds a lot of constraints on the creative front. Ubisoft is pushing more games like Skull and Bones irrespective of whether they fit within the format or not, which calls for dialing back to make more games like Immortals Fenyx Rising that cater to fans in meaningful ways. While live service titles are fine, not every game from Ubisoft should aim to have that model.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, while Skull and Bones is in development for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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