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Ubisoft's games being in 'development hell' proves that the gaming industry needs a renaissance

The major publisher is home to some of gaming's most popular names (Image via Sportskeeda)
The major publisher is home to some of gaming's most popular names (Image via Sportskeeda)

France-based Ubisoft is one of the biggest names in the video game industry right now. It is responsible for a vast lineup of games spanning across decades, and its studios continue to work on some of the biggest IPs on the market.

There's something for everyone here, from household names like Prince of Persia, Rayman, Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed, to relatively newer faces like WatchDogs and Immortals: Fenyx Rising.

Controversies aside, Ubisoft's games are also known to be at the forefront in terms of technical fidelity, and rake in insane profits each year thanks to their admittedly frowned-upon monetization practices. However, all of this fame and glory has also come at a cost.


Ubisoft's troubled developments continue

The publisher has been a pioneer in coining 'Quadruple-A' (AAAA) for their upcoming games. It's like Triple-A (AAA) but even grander. This brand has been bestowed upon projects like Beyond Good & Evil 2, which, coincidentally (or maybe not), also had a messy development process.

As of now, the only thing Ubisoft has to announce about its fate is a TBA (To Be Announced) sign. So here's every Ubisoft game so far that's seeing a rocky production cycle:

1) Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake

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To say that the much-anticipated remake of one of Ubisoft's most-beloved games saw backlash on debut reveal would be an understatement. This recreation of the 2003 action-adventure classic is being helmed by the publisher's Indian teams: Pune and Mumbai.

An update from the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake development team: https://t.co/z9sFaBwz9N

The official Prince of Persia account shared four updates about the game over a year. Eventually, it stated that the game is still in the works and hasn't shared anything since October of last year. Many fans are questioning the final product's quality since this is the studio's first major in-house offering.


2) Skull & Bones

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Another AAAA game, Skull & Bones, has been dormant for the past two years. It is a brand new IP and a multiplayer naval combat game. The last in-game footage was shown off in 2017, meaning the game likely looks nothing like it at this point, if it is even coming.

This one's under the Ubisoft Singapore team, and the creative director assured fans of steady progress. It was due for a 2021 "comeback," but there's been nothing but radio silence on that end.


3) Beyond Good & Evil 2

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This game is probably the most exciting, and yet the most anguishing entry on this list. The original Beyond Good & Evil game was 2003's action-adventure title, where Ubisoft took a page from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda games. It was a sales flop but is now hailed as a cult classic.

Fans were surprised when Ubisoft announced that it was making a sequel. That was first back in 2008, allegedly for the PS3 and Xbox 360, no less. Fast forward to 2016, and rumors started floating around again, and at the time they spoke about how the game would be a Nintendo-funded game, exclusive to the NX, now known to be the Switch.

Dear Space Monkeys, we wanted to share an update; Michel Ancel has decided to retire from working in video games. Read on to find out more about our commitment to the high expectations you have for #BGE2:

It was soon followed by series director Michael Ancel announcing its legitimacy. The brand new in-engine footage for this "prequel" that Ubisoft unveiled in 2017, suggested it would come to everything but Nintendo's portable platform.

Since then, there have been no new revelations so far, minus a 2020 update claiming that the game is ramping up production, with Ubisoft Paris joining the core team Montpellier's efforts.


4) Roller Champions

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One of several new IPs from Ubisoft, Roller Coaster was unveiled at E3 2019. It's best described as "Rocket League if it had rollerskates" - and similarly it is a multiplayer sports game. The game was supposed to be released last year for PC, PS4, XB1 and Switch but seems to have disappeared off the radar.

Perhaps Ubisoft is vary of its quirky new sports offerings after how spectacularly Hyper Scape - its sci-fi battle royale multiplayer game - flopped. This led to the game being shut down last month, despite the fact that it was launched in 2020.


All of these titles make one thing clear - that developers need to scale back on their expectations and ambitions. Cyberpunk 2077 from publisher CD Projekt RED is a very infamous example of what happens when developers take on more than they can handle, especially under a team that lacks a solid direction, with an underdeveloped engine to boot.

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Game studios today promise the moon and beyond, but how many have delivered on that? Instead, there are numerous games that have left a bad taste in gamers' mouths in recent memory - Biomutant, Balan Wonderland, Back 4 Blood, Outriders, Battlefield 2042, and more.

Some of these are major titles from key studios around the globe and still fall short of player expectations. So what could be the problem here? Are studios churning out products for the sake of it, resulting in modern games that get outclassed by decades-old peers? Or are they technical hurdles? A lack of experience?

Or is the work environment to blame? After all, Ubisoft has been notorious for s*xual allegations a handful of times now. Add in the inevitable crunch due to rising expectations and inflating budgets, and it's no wonder the industry is on a downwards spiral compared to the golden years of early 2000s-2010s.

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A solution? Game studios need to restructure their approach to development - like ensuring the marketing budget isn't larger than the development one, owing to star cameos like Keanu Silverhand. Maybe taking a step or two back from excessive monetization schemes, especially concerning F2P games.

There's an endless list of issues to pour over, but at the end of the day, so long as the AAA industry values profits over everything else, a change is simply impossible.


Note: The opinions present in this article reflect the writer's personal views.

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Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
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