So long, American Revolution. Thanks for all the freedom and stuff. Amid all the doom surrounding the gaming industry after a constant drum beat of lowered revenues, companies driven out of business, and a general uncertainty regarding the future of games, Ubisoft offered a ray of sunshine as well as some interesting news.
During its Q3 earnings call yesterday, the French publisher and developer announced that it has posted gains of 27.2 percent over this time last year, buoyed by the success of Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed III, and healthy online sales.
Far Cry 3 went on to sell 4.5 million copies worldwide, making it a bona fide hit. However, these numbers were nothing compared to Assassin’s Creed III, which sold 12 million copies around the globe – a 60-percent increase over Revelations. Online sales were also up an incredible 143 percent to more than $87 million.
Things are looking sunny for Ubisoft after posting losses for the first half of its fiscal year that ran from April through September. Despite increasing its revenue during that period compared to the same time from the year before, operating costs exceeded sales. But Ubisoft knew it would bounce back big in Q3 thanks to several major releases, and so it has. Along with the general crowing of how well the company is doing, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot also briefly discussed the future of the Assassin’s Creed series.
In what should come as a surprise to no one, there will be a new Assassin’s Creed game released in Ubisoft’s Fiscal year 2014, which runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. That’s in keeping with the strategy of releasing annual Assassin’s Creed games on console (Assassin’s Creed II was released in 2010). If you count handheld devices, there has been an annual release since the series first debuted in 2007.
There was no word on a specific release date, although the franchise has perpetually aimed for late October or November. Also missing from Guillemot’s announcements was what consoles the next iteration might be released. With the new Xbox and PS4 both possibly coming out around Thanksgiving, it could mean that the next Assassin’s Creed game will be a launch title for the next gen consoles, or at least a next-gen port would seem likely.
What was more interesting though, is the reveal that the next game will feature a new protagonist, and be set during a new time period.
“We are delighted and proud to announce today that in financial year ’14, we will introduce an all-new Assassin’s Creed hero, within an all new team and time period, and we expect it to be another major leap forward for the franchise,” Guillemot said. “It is the benefit of multiple teams, working on multiple chapters of the product, each getting several years to make their versions of an Assassin’s Creed game.”
Since an annual release is due this year, it seems surprising that Ubisoft wouldn’t take the easier road and release a second game built off the work done on Assassin’s Creed III the way it had in the past. The two direct sequels to Assassin’s Creed II sold very well – although not nearly as well as Assassin’s Creed III.
So let the guessing begin! Recently a story broke that the Assassin’s Creed series was intended to be co-op from the start of the franchise, so that may influence the next game which will presumably be called “Assassin’s Creed IV.”
The most common rumor at the moment is that the next outing will be set partially in Brazil. That led to further speculation that the game will take place in the 19th century during a time of revolution in South America, and feature historical figures from that period including Simon Bolivar (Bolivar was active in the early 1800s and returned to Venezuela from Europe in 1807). That could mean that an older Connor will return and the new hero Guillemot is referring to, is a new present day assassin to replace Desmond. If so, the title will likely not be Assassin’s Creed IV but rather just Assassin’s Creed with a subtitle as is the case with Brotherhood and Revelations.
Corey May, lead writer for the Assassin’s Creed III, said he would like to see a game set in Colonial India, Victorian England, or Revolutionary Russia. The animated short Embers featured a Chinese assassin, and hints of a Feudal Japanese assassin have gained some traction.
We won’t know for a while who the assassin is or what time period they will be active in, but for now, it’s fun to guess. Sound off below and let us know where you’d like to see an Assassin’s Creed game set.