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.)