It was rumored in January, and then effectively confirmed in February, that despite releases in the franchise coming every year since 2009, a new Assassin’s Creed game would not come out in 2016. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said at the time that the long-term goal was not to “come back to an annual cycle, but to come back on a regular basis” when the series returned, which it was assumed would happen sometime in 2017. But Tommy Francois, Ubi’s vice president of editorial, told IGN that it may take even longer than that to get things back on track.
“We believe alpha for these games needs to be one year before release. We’re trying to achieve that. That’s super fucking blunt, I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say this. This is the goal we’re going for: Alpha one year before [release], more quality, more polish,” he said. “So if this means biting the [bullet] and not having an Assassin’s game, or a Far Cry [in 2017], fuck it.”
Getting to an alpha state as quickly as possible is vital, he explained, “because the more time we have for this the more polish we have, the more time we can change, refine, swap systems. You just can’t take shortcuts.”
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He also clarified that the pause isn’t an attempt to dodge over-saturation—Francois said Far Cry has “only been going up in sales”—but strictly a creative decision, to give studios a chance to get away from the usual “Ubisoft open-world formula” and try different things. “I do think we need to break that formula,” he said. “This year we’ve given Far Cry and Assassin’s some time to decant, innovate, and polish. The objective behind this is exactly that.”
Ubisoft hasn’t been shy about delaying other major projects in recent months, either: In August it pushed back two planned Division expansions in order to focus on straightening out the core game, and earlier this month it pushed South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which had been slated for a December release, into early 2017.