Assassin's Creed IV - Black Flag

It’s the end of February 2013, and Ubisoft has started cranking up the marketing machine for more Assassin’s Creed action. After a series of small leaks, Ubisoft officially outed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, thus continuing the trend of making this a yearly series.

There was a time, fair readers, when even Ubisoft’s best and brightest developers openly discussed the notion that popping out yearly iterations of Assassin’s Creed would be a bad thing. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Assassin's Creed - ConnorWe’ve just gotta have those yearly releases.

Here’s a lengthy quote from Ubisoft’s Raphael Lacoste in an interview with VG247 that occurred way back in October of 2011.

“Because it’s narratively driven, the games boast a high completion rate, and that’s telling us that the gameplay is balanced to everyone’s liking…They actually want to finish it, like they really want to know what happens. If you make comparisons to television series; if the story’s good, they care about the characters and it’s compelling, they’re not going to complain when a seasonal TV series comes out every year, right?

That’s not to say Assassin’s Creed will come out every year, but we feel like the momentum of ACII, AC Brotherhood and now AC Revelations will create a complete picture of Ezio’s life and also touch upon Altair. That’s something we wanted to do and we think the fans will enjoy it. It’s true, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword; we don’t want to put it out there if we don’t think there’s a compelling reason to.”

I put that one bit in bold just to emphasize my point. I don’t think it’s the developers who actually believe that Assassin’s Creed needs to hit the market every year, I think it’s Ubisoft. They look at companies like Activision with their yearly powerhouse that is Call of Duty and they say, “yes, we need to do this, too.”

Assassin’s Creed, in case you haven’t already made the connection, is Ubisoft’s Call of Duty. They’ll change the setting, change some mechanics, but it’s the same game. We’re playing the same game, folks.

At least there’s a story with this franchise fatigue.

I will say that Ubisoft has to be commended for at least one thing when it comes to pumping out Assassin’s Creed titles like they’re widgets on a factory line. They’re telling a series of strong stories. Sure, they might not fire on all cylinders with every outing, but at least we’re getting a lengthy tale that feels well worth $60.

But the simple fact of the matter is that a lot of consumers are out-and-out tired with Assassin’s Creed in general. We fell in love with this series as Ezio and Altair took to the rooftops of their respective eras. Then Ubisoft started to bang the drum in this yearly cadence, and we’ve got more Assassin’s Creed than we can shake a stick at.

This screenshot comes from Wikipedia. I just love how the most recent era is “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Regardless, check out how many Assassin’s Creed games we’ve had since 2007.

Assassin's Creed Games According to Wiki

13 different entries from 2007 to 2013. Yowzers. Let’s give this thing a break, folks. Let it breathe.

Right, let it breathe.

I’ll leave you with a snippet from another interview between Ubisoft’s Jean-Francois Boivin and Eurogamer that occurred in July of 2010.

“Honestly, I think for the benefit of everybody – and business can come back and override everything I say because at the end of the day it’s about selling games – I believe that this license needs a breather. You can’t plough a field every year. Once every three years – or once every something – you have to let it breathe. You have to let the minerals back in. I think it’s the same thing with any license, really.”

You can’t plough (or “plow,” in the States) a field every year. Read that again, because it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever seen from a developer. You can’t plow a field every year. If you do, the soil loses nutrition and the crops begin to yield poorly. That applies to franchise production as well. Franchises dry up because of over production.

Oh yeah, it is “about selling games,” and it looks like the business end of Ubisoft has overridden everything Boivin said nearly three years ago.

Jean-Francois Boivin continues.

“We can see a lot of the music games that are releasing year after year – the interest is a lot less than it used to be. The excitement is a lot less than it used to be. You want to keep people excited. You gotta make people miss it a bit. It’s like, ‘Oh man! I’m so happy it’s back!’ But if you keep force-feeding to people then people are like, ‘Yeah, enough of your Assassin’s Creed’

I don’t think there’s going to be an Assassin’s Creed in 2011. I think we’re going to let it breathe a bit and really focus on bringing something new and exciting for the next time around. This [Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood] is the end of Ezio’s story. This is it.”

Boivin absolutely nailed it back in 2010. Enough of your Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft. Give it a break. Produce something else, then return to the land of Assassins and Templar in a few years. I want to be excited about this franchise again.