We already know that Assassin's Creed won't be releasing this year, with the team working on the upcoming title getting another year to polish their work up. In a conference call with investors, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot explained that series may be moving away from annual releases completely.
"The goal is not automatically to come back on an annual cycle, but to come on a regular basis," explained Guillemot. "We saw that it was time to give [Assassin's Creed] lots of time so [the developers] could really work on the property and all the mechanics to make sure we could take [the series] to another level."
"What we are seeing today is really promising," he added. "We will be able to come [out] on a regular basis. Now we can't say every year."
That idea was reinforced by statements from Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez, who said that the company had one of its best teams on the project. My speculation is that this is the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag team, led by creative director Ashraf Ismail. Previous reports have the next game focusing on ancient Egypt under the name Assassin's Creed Empires.
"We have focused one of our best teams behind what we are working on Assassin's Creed." said Martinez. "We have given them all the time for releasing something that we hope to be exceptional. We are setting up rules so that they will have enough time to polish the game and come with something really exceptional, so this is what we have for our first priority."
"Then after that, if we feel like we are in the right direction and that we can continue the path and we have enough innovation for the next one, we might come with the next one in the next year. But it's no longer something that will be set up every year."
This feels like a hedge from Ubisoft. If the next Assassin's Creed does amazing numbers after a year off, I could see them rolling into 2018 with another entry. But here they can set expectations, so if 2017 hits and doesn't do as well as the publisher believes it should, they can take another year off and rework the series again.
It's probably for the best and at this point, Ubisoft has other titles that can fill in the slot left open by Assassin's Creed. The Watch Dogs sequel will probably occupy that slot this year and Ubisoft has enough time to set up either another Watch Dogs game, or perhaps a new title in the Splinter Cell or Prince of Persia series for 2018.
The company is also focusing more on the games as a service model and providing strong multiplayer titles. It already has The Crew and The Division will be out in March, but the investors presentation also highlighted Ghost Recon: Wildlands, For Honor, and the new IP for fiscal year 2017 as "strong multiplayer" titles.
Martinez also ruled out a game in the near future that would tie in directly with the upcoming Assassin's Creed film.
"The next Assassin's Creed won't be about the Inquisition," said Martinez. "That doesn't mean there will never be an Assassin's Creed about the Inquisition, but we do feel it was wiser to give the creative freedom on the movie, so therefore there is not a great immediate tie-in between movie and games."