Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot hints about the future of Assassin’s Creed and gaming


Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot was relatively quiet during the Ubisoft Forward event in Los Angeles in June, but he opened up in a Q&A with is own team in a post today.

Among other topics, Guillemot discussed the future of Ubisoft’s videogame portfolio, the future of the Assassin’s Creed series, and the evolution of longstanding game genres and of the industry itself.

He said Ubisoft is focusing on the action-adventure open-world genre, as you can see with Star Wars Outlaws and Assassin’s Creed Shadows.

“Our game engines – Snowdrop and Anvil – have been adapted to that genre, and we believe we can create some of the best experiences out there,” he said. “And on the flip side of that are our games as a service (GaaS) native experiences. We’ve seen with games like Rainbow Six Siege that listening to your community and learning from their feedback is the way to grow a GaaS game. Of course, you absolutely need to have a vision, but the game is a co-construction with its players. If you listen to your community, you can create an evolving, best-in-class experience for them.”


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He noted tech is evolving at such a pace that there are limitless possibilities for evolution of living worlds.

“In Assassin’s Creed Shadows, for example, we have a weather system that will affect its gameplay; ponds that were once swimmable might freeze, for instance,” Guillemot said. “Visually, we’re also seeing a big step forward for the series. I have also been very vocal about the potential I see in generative AI and how it can enrich NPCs to be more intelligent, more interactive. This could potentially extend to animals in the world, to the world itself. There is still so much we can do to enrich these open worlds to be even more dynamic.”

He thinks that Assassin’s Creed Shadows, which is set in feudal Japan, can bring back players who have dropped off the series.

“I think the fact you are in feudal Japan, and you explore such a beautiful world with two complementary yet different characters, is a very enticing proposition,” he said. “You can choose how to handle any situation playing as a shinobi or a samurai, and have very different experiences depending on your choice. I can’t wait for players, both new and returning, to get their hands on it.”

The interviewer said that Assassin’s Creed has seen Mirage, which was a leaner homage to the series’ roots, and now Shadows, which is much larger in scope and more in the vein of Odyssey/Valhalla. Looking at the future, can we expect this continued variety? Smaller games alongside bigger ones?

“Firstly, players can be excited about some remakes, which will allow us to revisit some of the games we’ve created in the past and modernize them; there are worlds in some of our older Assassin’s Creed games that are still extremely rich,” he said. “Secondly, to answer your question, there will be plenty of experience variety. The goal is to have Assassin’s Creed games come out more regularly, but not for it to be the same experience every year. There are a lot of good things to come, including Assassin’s Creed Hexe, which we’ve announced, which is going to be a very different game from Assassin’s Creed Shadows. We’re going to surprise people, I think.”

Asked about the success and failure of GaaS games in retaining a significant, loyal player base, Guillemot said, “We need to continue to listen closely to our players and make well-informed decisions on where to focus our efforts, because if you succeed at GaaS, you can succeed for the long-term. Let’s look at XDefiant. There’s a lot of work to do, but it was able to attract 11 million players in a short time. And that number will increase with all the work done by the team to ensure Season One brings a lot more to the existing experience. It’s about making the right choices and sticking to them.”

XDefiant

XDefiant will be continually updated, with different experiences and optimized gameplay.

He added, “I’d love to see it as a serious esport. But really, for a game like this, there’s no limit to its future. And we’ve got a fantastic team on it, who are listening to our players and communicating with them, which is so crucial. We’ve started off strong, but there’s still a long way to go, and I’m excited for us to step up to the challenge.”

As for the Snowdrop and Anvil game engines, he said, “They are specialized and differentiate our games. We will continue to invest in our propriety engines; the creators of our engines understand what our games need, and what the developers of our games need, and cater our engines to those needs. That’s why we can keep pushing our visuals and gameplay to new heights.”

The interviewer asked Guillemot what dismays him about the games industry right now.

“One thing I am concerned about right now is the malicious and personal online attacks that have been directed at some of our team members and partners,” Guillemot said. “I want to make it clear that we, at Ubisoft, condemn these hateful acts in the strongest possible terms, and I encourage the rest of the industry and players to denounce them, too. I am proud to support the amazing work of our teams and partners, and I will always trust in their creative choices. We should all celebrate the hard work and talent that goes into making videogames.”

And as for what excited him, Guillemot said, “What excites me, and what has always excited me, is new technology and the potential it can bring for our developers and, of course, for our players. I’d like it if hardware evolved even faster. The fact that games have, for a while now been compatible with both the current and previous generation of consoles is a fantastic thing for our back catalog and our players, but it’s held the industry back a bit when it comes to developing truly new experiences. If, as game makers, we can adopt and master technological advancements like generative AI and the cloud more quickly, we will be much better positioned to create new, stand-out experiences for players.”