There is no doubt that live service games are making astronomical amounts of money. Games like Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto Online, Destiny 2, Call of Duty: Warzone, Dota 2, and Rainbow Six Siege are just a handful of the live service games that have created an enormous source of revenue for their respective developers and publishers. As gaming itself continues to delve deeper into becoming predominately online, it should be no surprise that more developers/publishers are looking to cash in on the live service boom. Ubisoft is planning to do this with the Assassin’s Creed franchise in the future.
The working title, “Assassin’s Creed Infinity” has been making the rounds in gaming news lately as Ubisoft confirmed that another title for the series is in the works. A Forbes article pointed out that the upcoming game would be the series’ first foray into the live service market. And why not? This is the current successful trend in gaming. If the game garners enough support from the players, it would pay off in a big way. From a business perspective, I can see the allure. From a development and publishing standpoint, it also allows for more control over the product.
As a gamer, my perspective is different. When I think of the phrase “live service,” the first word that comes to mind is “obsolete.” Because live service games require the user to be connected online, I am basically paying for a game that I know will one day be inaccessible. If you’ve read my post on Destiny 2 from last fall, you’ll see that reality smacked me hard in the face. It was around that time that I made the decision to no longer spend more than $20 for a live service game without an offline option. I can live with $20, especially if I had a blast with the game. But to pay full price or more for access to a game that can be made inaccessible at any time? Nah. I’m also not keen to the current and growing trend of having to possess an online connection for non-live service games.
The issues that live service games such as Marvel’s Avengers and Outriders have had only further cemented my stance. They are both published by Square Enix, a publisher that decided to invest more into the live service market. Because of the success and favorable reception of Final Fantasy XIV (a live service game also published by Square Enix), I was surprised at how many issues were occurring with Marvel’s Avengers and Outriders. One of the biggest drawbacks of online gaming is that it introduced a whole new myriad of gaming bugs. The tricky part about patching those bugs is how new bugs can be generated as a result. As a result, gamers are subjected to constant updates/patches. This always has the capability of breaking the game itself and making it unplayable. With games you play offline, you can choose not to update. But with online-only games, you lose access if you aren’t up to date with the latest version.
Assassin’s Creed is a video game series with more than 20 games tied to the brand. That is insane for a modern game series that began just 14 years ago. Many historical eras have been covered by the franchise from ancient Egypt through 1918 Russia. The events of the past involving the secret orders of the Assassins in their timeless conflict against the Knight’s Templar have a significant impact on the present within the overarching game story. Because of the many civilizations the game has depicted throughout the series, Ubisoft has collaborated with many people from diverse ethnic backgrounds when creating the games.
The live service transition may mark the end of the series’ primary focus on single-player adventures. Creating an online world similar to Destiny 2 with players having the ability to form their own assassin guilds in an interconnected huge world is something that may bring some freshness to the brand. Hopefully, Ubisoft is paying close attention to the mistakes that have been made with live service games in the past so that Assassin’s Creed Infinity doesn’t repeat them.
(P.S. – I recently read that Valve is going to be releasing the Steam Deck this winter, a handheld gaming system that may be the Nintendo Switch’s competitor. This was one of the big gaming news stories of the week, but I decided to post on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed title instead. I will feature the Steam Deck in next week’s “IN THE NEWS” post.)
I’m not that thrilled about Line Service being introduced for the next Assassin’s Creed game. The Assassins’s Creed games have always been great open world singer player games that I’ve really enjoyed. I just don’t see how a AC game, or the franchise, can adapt to this. Oh well, I’m still enjoying Assassin’s Creed Valhalla atm, and there’s lots of extra content coming to that game over the next year or so, that should keep me busy for a while. Might check out Assassin’s Creed origins next, not played that one.
Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey are both very well-regarded entries in the series. They’re both in my backlog. I’ve got quite a ways to go to catch up with the series. I still haven’t finished Black Flag.
With the live service, I would imagine the developers are taking elements like what we see in Destiny 2, Warframe, and Outriders and then adapting it within an Assassin’s Creed environment with more assassin-oriented gameplay. I’m sure just like the three games I’ve mentioned, you will still be able to play as a single player with missions to carry out. Yet the focus will inevitably end up on the multiplayer experience with other players/assassins.
My biggest beef with the direction that gaming is going is how players are being forced to be online to play games that they are purchasing. This is getting so ridiculous that a growing number of games (even single-player focused ones) aren’t able to be played without an internet connection. So with no internet, the game is unplayable. More than ever, the model is shifting to one of access rather than ownership for the players. Live service games to me are the ultimate form of that.
That’s my main issue with an online Assassin’s Creed like they are proposing. It has so many pit falls and wouldn’t feel the same. It’d be ok if the online element was optional, but to base a whole game around it the way Assassin’s Creed is structured just wouldn’t appeal to me much. Yeah, I want to play Origins next, I like the sound of how that game is set in Egypt, also the gameplay looks similar to Valhalla – which I’ve also really enjoyed. I loved Black Flag, that’s still my favourite game in the entire AC series, it was brilliant fun!