When Assassin's Creed debuted and quickly established itself as a blockbuster hit, Ubisoft wasted little time in ramping up work on the first sequel. Later this month, Assassin's Creed 2 will arrive in stores, almost exactly two years after the original game's launch.
As prompt as that turnaround may be, gamers might not have to wait even half that long for another dose of the time-travelling stealth action franchise. In a conference call after its quarterly earnings announcement today, Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez teased that the franchise could return as soon as next year.
Responding to an analyst's question about the publisher's major franchise plans for 2010, Martinez said, "There might be something around Assassin's Creed, and you mentioned that there will be a movie of Prince of Persia." He didn't specify what form that Assassin's Creed content might take, be it significant downloadable content, a spin-off game, or a full stand-alone installment in the franchise. The content also might not necessarily be a game, since Ubisoft released an effects-heavy live-action short, Assassin's Creed Lineage, as part of its preparations to expand into feature filmmaking. (See below.)
Martinez's comment wasn't the only Ubisoft executive utterance to raise eyebrows during the call. CEO Yves Guillemot also talked about the publisher's desire to expand into genres where it hasn't met with much success to date. Specifically, Guillemot said the company has gaps in its lineup in the racing, fighting, and role-playing game genres, and that Ubisoft will be entering some (not necessarily all) of those genres with original intellectual properties "soon."
Although Guillemot specified them as weak spots of Ubisoft's catalog, the publisher already has some entries in each of the named genres. The company's Might and Magic franchise is one of the longest-running Western RPG series, although Ubisoft has focused more on spin-offs like the Heroes of Might and Magic line of games. Ubisoft also recently acquired the racing game studio behind the Trackmania franchise, Nadeo, but currently has the team working on TrackMania 2 instead of an original IP.
As for fighting games, the just-released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up was developed by the studio behind Super Smash Bros. Brawl. However, it is based on a licensed property and underperformed Ubisoft's expectations upon release.