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What is Going on at Ubisoft? – A Look at their Past 2 years, and What Their Future May Look Like

Ubisoft seems to be having a really rough time lately. Between the newly announced Tom Clancy’s XDefiant that’s been met with much negativity, and the recent Kotaku article revealing the disastrous development of Skull and Bones, this studio is certainly not having a great month. Bear in mind, this is not a Ubisoft hate post, but rather I just want to discuss the current situation of the studio and the outlook of their future when it comes to their games and philosophy.

But if we take a step back we’ll see that Ubisoft has been having it rough in more ways than one the last year or so, and paint’s a worrying picture of their future (at least for now). Because despite recent news, Ubisoft has actually had a rough couple of years:

  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint was one of Ubisoft biggest failures in the company's history. both critically and in sales, causing Ubisoft to delay every game at the time, including WDL.

  • The Division 2 sold below expectations and suffered a huge playerbase drop during the first year (according to the community), and was met with much criticism by its core audience. Content updates have also been lacking, with a supposed big (presumably last) update coming some time this year.

  • Of course, The Division Heartland is a new F2P game coming from the same universe, thought we have no clue what that’s going to look like but as always F2P games are met with uncertainty at first, especially as this is being ran by a different team than Ubi Massive IIRC.

  • Riders Republic has been delayed again

  • Beyond Good and Evil 2 is nowhere to be seen

  • Rainbow 6 Extraction is the most bizarre title that they’re working on. Based on a really meh limited time event in Siege, Ubisoft, for some reason, decided to turn this into a full $60 standalone game for what looks like a half assed R6S DLC….needless to say this game is not being met positively.

  • Assassins Creed going live service for AC: Infinite which has fans really mixed.

  • Then there’s ‘XDefiant’, perhaps one of the most desperate looking trend chasing titles I’ve seen from this studio. Mashing up everything thats popular right now taking inspiration from CoD and Valorent. Public reception on this title has also been met with much negativity.

  • And I almost forgot, remember Hyperscape? Ubi’s attempt to cash in on the Battle Royale genre? Yeah, me neither. A game that totally came and went and will more than likely stop being supported soon (Devs on twitter recently removed Hyperscape from their bios).

  • As stated above, if you haven’t read the Kotaku article, Skull & Bones is still stuck in development hell. It has changed shape and scope several times, is now run by the (now former) VP of Editorial, presumably so Ubi Paris can have a ‘yes man’ to pump out a game how they please. And is mostly managed by Ubisoft Philippines. A studio that has been reportedly rife with harassment, abuse, and sexism. The only reason why this game hasn't been canceled is because of contractual obligations with the Philippines government after taking grants, so my expectations are low.

  • Speaking of harassment, abuse, and sexism. Ubisoft has reportedly made little to no changes to the company after countless instances of abuse. Yeah, that’s still going on.

  • It’s worth noting that their tentpole series still sell well. Valhalla broke records, Watch Dogs Legion (supposedly) sold a bit better than the previous title despite mixed reviews, and Far Cry 6 will likely be a hit, and Immortals: Fynx Rising sold and was received well despite being the most aggressive BOTW rip off I’ve ever seen.

But…how much longer can Ubisoft rest on its laurels with these titles? This is an enormous studio with dozens of offices around the globe. Sure the ‘Big 3’ titles are safe bets, but that’s not enough for their investors. Seeing a continued declining 17% YoY in quarterly revenue which has many of their investors unsure of the company future.

For all the comments I see on Reddit about how Ubisoft ‘playing it safe’ and trend chasing to be profitable for them, therefore why should they change, from where I’m sitting this really does not look to be the case. Nearly every one of the above examples is usually followed up by, or at least an example of, reports that Ubisoft has become horribly mismanaged and frantically trying to find the next big thing by following trends. What frustrates me the most about Ubisoft is that they have extremely talented devs, and huge portfolio of IPs. But instead of leveraging those IPs and their respective genres, and pooling their talent to create great games in said genre, allowing them to corner the market in different niches. They choose to mish mash them together into some sort of trend chasing zombie that lacks an Identity and is met with much better competition, scrambling to find whatever 'hot thing' works, more often than not late to the party. Is this really the best way forward for the Studio? As shown above, this philosophy does not seem to be working in their favor, at least for not much longer.

So, where does Ubisoft go from here? What can they do to improve? Do they continue to chase trends and pray that some F2P mash up game becomes the next fortnite? Do they take a step back give at least some their studios time to breathe and get creative with more focused titles? (and will the sexual misconduct ever be addressed?)

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