‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’ Release Set for Fall 2014 -- But Is it Too Much, Too Early?

"Assassin’s Creed Unity" will arrive by the end of the year. But is it too early for Ubisoft to release an exclusive next-gen chapter for its blockbuster series?

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:35AM

Ubisoft (NASDAQOTH:UBSFF) recently announced Assassin's Creed Unity, the seventh main installment of its blockbuster franchise, transporting players to Paris during the French Revolution.

Assassin's Creed Unity's location had previously been hinted at during the ending sequence of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010), which revealed a Phrygian Cap, an icon of the French Revolution.

Assassin's Creed Unity will be the first next-gen-only Assassin's Creed title. The previous chapter, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, was available on the seventh generation Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony (NYSE:SNE) PS3, as well as the eighth generation Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY) Wii U consoles.

Unity has been in development for three years -- a longer period than any of the previous Assassin's Creed titles -- and will arrive this fall.

The delicate balancing act of hitting annual releases
In a previous article, I discussed the challenges that Ubisoft was facing with releasing annual chapters of Assassin's Creed ever since Assassin's Creed II (2009). Ubisoft spread the workload across more studios to launch annual holiday releases on time. Whereas only one studio, Ubisoft Montreal, worked on Assassin's Creed (2007) and Assassin's Creed II, a whopping eight studios worked together on Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

It was an incredible balancing act that all came together seamlessly in Black Flag. Previous multi-studio efforts, such as Assassin's Creed: Revelations (7 studios) and Assassin's Creed III (6 studios) often contained disjointed gameplay elements that felt superfluous and incomplete. Assassin's Creed III, for example, introduced naval warfare, hunting, and other features, but none of the new features felt particularly polished or necessary.


AC4: Black Flag. (Source: Ubisoft)

Black Flag took those parts of Assassin's Creed III, evolved them, and tossed the player into a wide-open sandbox of the Caribbean ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Naval warfare and hunting became key gameplay components, but the game also stuck to its Assassin's Creed roots by refining its land-based gameplay.

Ubisoft's web-like dependence on its own overseas studios is different from the way Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) splits its blockbuster Call of Duty franchise between two studios -- Infinity Ward and Treyarch -- which alternate between annual releases. But the interesting thing about Assassin's Creed Unity is that it was developed concurrently with the releases of Revelations, Assassin's Creed III, and Black Flag -- an incredible feat considering the manpower needed for those three titles.

Is the assassin losing his momentum?
It's hard to tell if Assassin's Creed is losing its momentum. However, Brotherhood and Revelations clearly sold worse than the first and second main chapters of the game, and sales of Black Flag have failed to measure up to its numbered predecessors:

Title (Year)


Units sold (millions)


Assassin's Creed (2007)

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows


79% (PC)

Assassin's Creed II (2009)

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows


86% (PC)

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010)

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows


88% (PC)

Assassin's Creed: Revelations (2011)

PS3, Xbox 360, Windows


80% (PC)

Assassin's Creed III (2012)

PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows


80% (PC)

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, WIndows


84% (PC)

Source: Vgchartz, Metacritic.

In my opinion, Ubisoft thought that the naming scheme of Brotherhood and Revelations (direct sequels to Assassin's Creed II) resulted in lower sales, so it brought numbered releases back with Assassin's Creed III, which became the best-selling title of the entire series. Ubisoft continued the tradition with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.

Yet despite strong reviews, Black Flag has flown at half mast with lackluster sales. Black Flag also cost an estimated $100 million and required a development team of 900 people. Assassin's Creed Unity will likely cost even more -- which means that it will need to make a huge splash for Ubisoft to justify such big production costs. By comparison, Assassin's Creed had a production budget of $20 million, and Assassin's Creed II cost $24 million.

Should Ubisoft follow Take-Two's example?
If Unity fails to meet sales expectations, Ubisoft could be forced to scale back on annual Assassin's Creed releases and possibly increase the number of side releases for handheld consoles and mobile devices.

Yet that wouldn't be a terrible idea. Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO), for example, released GTA V (2013) five years after GTA IV (2008). GTA V was the most expensive video game ever made, with a production and marketing budget of $265 million, but it also sold 30.7 million units compared to GTA IV's sales of 21.6 million.

The GTA franchise wasn't completely abandoned during those five years -- Rockstar released two beefy expansion packs for GTA IV (The Lost and the Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony) and a critically acclaimed handheld and mobile title, Chinatown Wars, in 2009.

Assassins Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity. (Source: Ubisoft trailer)

Ubisoft is reaching the point where it doesn't fully realize the potential in DLCs and expansion packs for the main Assassin's Creed titles before it releases its next numbered sequel. If Ubisoft bides its time, as Take-Two did, it could build up feverish anticipation for a new game, which could result in blockbuster sales.

Nothing is true...
Assassin's Creed Unity certainly sounds incredible. As a longtime fan of the series, I've always wanted to see Ubisoft portray Paris with the loving detail they used on Florence, Venice, and Rome. Yet as much as I love these games, I think that Assassin's Creed Unity needs to hit some high sales targets to justify additional annual releases.

What do you think, fellow gamers? Are you excited to see Ubisoft release next-gen Assassin's Creed title by the end of the year, or should the company slow down to build up some anticipation between releases?

Everything is permitted
In closing, the video game industry is quickly evolving into an interactive film industry. Investors who can skillfully navigate these waters like Captain Kenway could find hidden treasure troves full of booty. Take a moment to read The Motley Fool's free guide to investing for your personal treasure map to secure your financial fortune.


Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers