Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Far Cry, Rayman… Ubisoft’s career is one of the most influential -and fascinating- in video game history. The company founded by the five brothers Guillemot It has become on its own merits one of the great pillars within the entertainment industry itself, which includes not only its great annual releases, but its different approaches to cinema, television and much beyond. and that has made her on a titan
This is due to the support of the players, of course, but the latter in turn is due to that constant effort to grow from Ubisoft and an unusual willingness to try out new ideas or bring those that work to his field. However, that entails a gradual wear and tear that is already being noticed. Which makes us wonder: what was your last great year?
But before jumping to conclusions, let’s go by parts.
If Ubisoft keeps releasing great games, what’s going on?
Just like his own Yves Guillemot He admitted, one of the company’s vital impulses, which today helps them weather the storm, is games as a service. This does not mean that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Far Cry 6 games are disappointing – quite the contrary – but rather that the circumstances are complicated (the price of their games was recently raised) and several of their projects have not had the expected performance.
To put it in perspective Games like the sequel to Mario + Rabbids have not matched the impact of the original, and this year Just Dance 2023 only came out on Switch and Next Gen consoles, when until recently it was still being re-released even on Wii. Of course, the French company continues to bet very strongly and has even filled the horizon with new Assassin’s Creed games and projects.
It cannot be said that at Ubisoft they do not contemplate all the options. On the contrary: they bet heavily on virtual reality, on eSports (with a Rainbow Six Siege that does not lose steam) and little by little they are bringing their star sagas to mobile phones. They even tested the grounds with the Toys-To-Life with Starlink: Battle for Atlas. They even have plans for NFTs on the horizon despite the fact that internally they are not very clear (rather the opposite) that this is the way to go.
And despite all of the above, its blockbusters are the ones that help set the pace each year. Its formula of open worlds, designed to offer countless hours of gameplay, has had a huge declared influence on games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Ghost of Tsushima or Redfall.
But let’s go back to basics, what has become of the Ubisoft that aspired and managed to make history with great games of the caliber of Beyond Good and EvilPrince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed II?
From 2003 to 2013: Ubisoft’s golden decade
Ubisoft has not had a great year in its entire history: has had many. In fact, its beginnings were not easy and success was slow in coming, but the results are there and today it rubs shoulders with the largest in the video game industry. As they say, inspiration exists but he has to find you working.
As can be seen on its official website, Ubisoft’s history began in 1986 offering its own releases and, gradually, publishing third-party hits such as The Elder Scrolls, the hits of Blizzard, Capcom and LucasArts or various installments of final fantasy. Of course, despite the fact that they had their own track record, the success of the Rayman definitely awakened the latent spirit that was in the offices and the project that the Guillemots really wanted to shape.
Ubisoft not only knew how to seize the moment, but also began to hit the table brutally and consecutively after the turn of the millennium, initiating a true golden decade since 2003 with great games that would define its identity as a company.
Thanks to his foray into the work of Tom Clancy that same year they will come out Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six 3 Y Splinter Cell, those who will follow the adaptation of XIII and two historical games: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Y Beyond Good & Evil. And that’s just a small sample of everything they published that year.
Ubisoft very successfully combined large established licenses. In fact, he took over from Konami with Ninja Turtles and created Star Wars games or Marvel heroes before they both shared a house at Disney. But after giving us a spectacular trilogy of Prince of Persia was crowned with his next great own saga: Assassin’s Creed.
Lighting the path of how seventh generation video games should be.
2009 was also a turning point for the company: in addition to a Assassin’s Creed II that would settle the saga definitively, the millionaire saga was taken out of the hat Just Dance.
However, throughout that year he took advantage of the impulse of the Nintendo and Wii laptops, giving continuity to his prolific saga. Imagine Being… or pet games Petz. All without neglecting licenses as diverse as Avatar, Grey’s Anatomy either A Chance of Meatballs. One thing to keep in mind: that year alone, he published or helped edit more than 70 games for a multitude of different platforms. It can be said that the machinery was at full capacity.
The pace did not slow down in subsequent years, but the trend hardly gave any room for surprises: Ubisoft was committed to launching annual blockbusters based on the Tom Clancy sagas, redirected the saga Far Cry Y just danceRead what we know today and explored the possibilities of the Assassin’s Creed formula to almost, almost exhaustion.
In 2013 he continued to surprise with adaptations and even relaunched his mascot with Rayman Legends, but Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag it had lost much of its original freshness. And that could almost be applied to many of his key recurring sagas. For ten years they went from being a company with aspirations to a video game giant with sagas recognizable worldwide, but the reality is that at a creative level hIt was necessary to give a new blow on the table. A strong one.
2017, the last great year of Ubisoft (to date)
The year 2017 was spectacular for the video game industry in many ways. PlayStation 4 was unstoppable, Xbox One began its revolutionary project and got rid of the Kinect ballast, the PC became the mirror of how games should be (partly given the generational missteps of Sony and Microsoft) and Switch turned the game upside down. market combining the best of Nintendo, becoming the new bastion of the indies and being supported by the best of the Third Parties.
Ubisoft was a common denominator in all and each one of them, crowning themselves again, taking out games that we continue to talk about today. Standing out among all the released games:
Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, he launched For Honor, reimagining the essence of medieval combat in style. A game that continues to grow at full speed.
A month later, just days after the Switch launched, he blew our minds with Ghost Recon Wildlands. The last great game in this powerful subsaga and, as we discussed in our analysis, the best face of the Ubisoft formula.
A title with a colossal open world designed for us to get lost in it indefinitely with three other friends.
In May, it redoubled its commitment to Virtual Reality and made the fantasy of any trekkie tangible with Star Trek: Bridge Crewthe definitive simulator of the iconic saga.
His landing on Switch couldn’t have been better: in August he surprised locals and strangers with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a tactical RPG in which the Rabbids shared the limelight with Mario and his friends. Not long after, he took Rayman to Switch just as the character clamored for.
His commitment to licenses was renewed with South Park: The Fractured But Whole and South Park: Phone Destroyer. Two games as hooligans as the Comedy Central series itself.
And yet, despite being very well on track and maintaining its stupendous rate of releases, it knew how to seize the moment to redefine its flagship: Assassin’s Creed Origins was the reboot that fans of the Assassins saga requested. Daring to break the mold that she herself had forged without giving up what is truly essential.
More than five years later, we continue to applaud (and relive) those milestones
It would be completely unfair to say that Ubisoft has been limited to repeating the milestones of its brutal 2017 almost in a loop since then: the subsequent installments of Assassin’s Creed they have far exceeded the story of Bayek, Anno 1800 retains all its original glory, positioning itself as one of the best strategy video games (and a recurring obsession of our partner Rubén) and both Far Cry 5 and what came after it was not bad at all.
But despite the fact that the momentum generated by the company has not been diluted, we have become accustomed to its formulas. Too. To the point that its blockbusters, such as the sequel to The Division or the new games in the Ghost Recon saga continue to have great weight within the annual releases, but lack the impact they deserve.
Because, they may like it more or less, and even arrive with a few less launch patches, but they are still mammoth productions.
The current Ubisoft no longer produces that vast amount of video games from ten or twenty years ago and focuses more on three very specific types of projects:
- The key sagas (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Just Dance, Tom Clancy…) which are his unquestionable workhorses. Not only through traditional formulas, but by adapting them to new platforms and player profiles.
- The most experimental games, such as Hyper Scape, Riders Republic or Roller Champions, which seek to go beyond the borders of their own studios and accommodate the demands of a new generation of players.
- Finally, the planning of a self-sustaining subscription model. From Ubisoft+ to the passes of Just Dance, year 1800 or Trackmania.
The future of Ubisoft has forced the company to be much more selective with the projects it invests in, but there are certain values that cannot be ignored. Cementing the Assassin’s Creed saga is a priority absolute, and in charge of it has two games based on Star Wars and Avatar, as well as a generous selection of versions of its key sagas adapted for mobile phones.
Will that Ubisoft capable of hitting the table like in its golden age or its brutal 2017 return? Well, we haven’t forgotten the last promise made to us by Michel Ancel, the creator of Rayman, before leaving video games: the highly anticipated sequel to Beyond Good and Evil. A game long announced and called to be a work of worship. And we won’t settle for less.