Jul 7, 2021 - Technology

Ubisoft confirms "Assassin's Creed Infinity," amid changes at company

Screenshot of a warrior standing on a giant statue of Poseidon in Ancient Greece
"Assassin's Creed Odyssey." Screenshot: Axios

The next "Assassin's Creed" is codenamed "Assassin's Creed Infinity" and will be jointly produced by Ubisoft's large Montreal and Quebec studios, the company confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: "Assassin's Creed" is Ubisoft's biggest series, but its future has been complicated by workplace problems and the company's plan to pursue new business models.

Between the lines: For players, the most notable revelation may be that "Infinity" will be "a massive online platform that evolves over time," according to Bloomberg.

  • "Infinity" would break from franchise tradition. "AC" games are typically set in one historical time period, but the "Infinity" project would encompass multiple settings and, presumably, multiple lead characters.
  • Such a design would allow Ubisoft to make "Assassin's Creed" part of its pivot into the lucrative live service format, where a constant flow of new content entices players to spend more time in and more money on the game for years.

The big picture: Ubisoft didn't address the live service aspect of Bloomberg's "Infinity" report but acknowledged that it is changing its approach to making the series’ games.

  • "AC" games were typically developed by one big lead studio, with a dozen or so studios from around the world working in support.
  • Ubisoft said this new joint-studio approach should satisfy "fans who have been asking for a more cohesive approach to its development over the past several years." That may refer to the widely varying tones and approaches to overall series lore taken by the former lead studios.
Screenshot of a viking warrior sitting on a tree branch
"Assassin's Creed Valhalla." Screenshot: Axios

Wednesday's "Assassin's Creed Infinity" news also put a spotlight on who is and isn't involved in the new effort.

The overall joint project will be overseen by executive producer Marc-Alexis Côté, with the Quebec team's work led by Jonathan Dumont and Montreal's by veteran game designer Clint Hocking.

  • Hocking is notable simply for being a long-respected designer who is new to the series.
  • Côté and Dumont are "Assassin's Creed" veterans whose last series game, "Assassin's Creed Odyssey," was well-reviewed.
  • But both were named in a report last year about workplace issues at the Quebec studio, with Dumont cited by multiple sources as a "bully" and Côté criticized for "enabling that toxicity."

What they're saying: A spokesperson for Ubisoft declined to address specific allegations but said the company worked with third-party investigators to look into the myriad allegations of workplace misconduct made about Ubisoft employees last year.

  • The company took "appropriate actions based on their outcome, including warnings, removal of managerial responsibility or dismissal," the rep told Axios.
  • "We have full confidence in the entire Assassin's Creed team," the spokesperson said.

A string of departures: In its "Infinity" announcement, Ubisoft named several people who will steer the "Assassin's Creed" franchise and traced many of their careers back to early games in the series.

  • Notably missing were many top names from 2020's blockbuster "Assassin's Creed Valhalla."
  • The game's creative director, Ashraf Ismail, was fired from the studio before its release due to an infidelity scandal.
  • Its narrative director and game director both left Ubisoft earlier this year on less controversial terms to pursue new game dev jobs. Both worked on multiple acclaimed installments of the series.

What's next: "Infinity" is still a long way away from release, and much can change, including what it's about and the teams involved.

  • Ubisoft still plans to add more content to "Assassin's Creed Valhalla" into the game's second year of release.
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