ORIGINAL STORY, 07/07/2021: Everyone knows Ubisoft, like any other big AAA publisher, can’t get enough of live service games. Assassin’s Creed Infinity is the code name for their next. According to a report from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, Ubisoft wants this game to be a massive online platform that evolves over time. Ubisoft declined to discuss the project, but Schreier received confirmation from a representative.
UPDATE, 07/08/2021: Shortly after the Bloomberg report, Ubisoft made a blog post giving official confirmation of the project. “Rather than continuing to pass the baton from game to game, we profoundly believe this is an opportunity for one of Ubisoft’s most beloved franchises to evolve in a more integrated and collaborative manner,” Ubisoft said.
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES: Assassin’s Creed is arguably Ubisoft’s flagship property, with a new release coming out nearly every year. The franchise has sold more than 155 million units, making it one of the biggest franchises in gaming. Assembling a live service game based on the world and characters doesn’t just follow current trends – despite the possible objection of franchise die-hards – it fits the IP.
Assassin’s Creed Infinity draws inspiration from current hits like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto Online, just two examples of successful “games as a service.” They keep players engaged for years either by frequently adding new content, authoring timed exclusive events that build a sense of FOMO or periodically transforming the experience with new modes and mechanics.
‘Infinity’ would theoretically bring the world of Assassin’s Creed together onto one single online platform by that expands to accommodate different historical settings. This is not unlike the Animus Omega console developed by the in-universe Abstergo Entertainment. You heard it here first, Ubisoft confirms they’re a division of Abstergo, the villainous Templar organization from the games.
Schreier notes that the Infinity project is years away from release, so it is still very much in the prototype stage. It is being co-developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec, the two studios that have shared alternating duty on Assassin’s Creed releases. The end result would be better integration between games and settings.
It’s worth noting that Assassin’s Creed isn’t exactly in dire need of reinvention. 2020’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was the best launch of the franchise. Additional content has been released for the game and Ubisoft promises more content through 2022. However, service game publishers like Take-Two Interactive have seen massive gains in share value during a period when Ubisoft shares remained flat.
Abstergo, I mean Ubisoft, has unified the Montreal and Quebec teams in order to revise the creative direction of Assassin’s Creed. While each team retains their own creative director, Quebec will take point on the franchise. Schreier notes that a rivalry between Quebec and Montreal has “at times turned acrimonious” so the reorganization could be problematic for many on both teams.
These pains are more noteworthy when we consider that Ubisoft is still reeling from last year’s reckoning over allegations of a culture of misconduct and abuse in the company, including sexual misconduct and abuse. While some creative leads (including then chief creative officer Serge Hascoët) are no longer at the company, some managers accused remain in senior positions.