Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot talks about the future of Assassin’s Creed

After the excitement of Ubisoft Forward in early June, we had the chance to catch up briefly with CEO Yves Guillemot, who was feeling pensive after a blistering June showcase season. Guillemot discussed the future of Ubisoft’s video game portfolio, gave us a glimpse of what’s next for the Assassin’s Creed series, and looked at the evolution of long-standing game genres and the industry itself.

What video game genres is Ubisoft currently focusing on?

Yves Guillemot: The open-world action-adventure genre is definitely something we continue to focus on, as you can see with Star Wars Outlaws and Assassin’s Creed Shadows. Our game engines – Snowdrop and Anvil – have been adapted for this genre, and we believe we can create some of the best experiences out there. And on the other hand, our native Games as a Service (GaaS) experiences. We’ve seen with games like Rainbow Six Siege that listening to your community and learning from their feedback is the way to build a GaaS game. Sure, you absolutely have to have a vision, but the game is a co-construction with its players. If you listen to your community, you can create a scalable, best-in-class experience for them.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot talks about the future of Assassin’s Creed

Ubisoft has been a key player in the open world for many years. How do you ensure evolution and innovation with each new game?

YG: Technology is evolving at such a pace that the possibilities for advancement are endless. In Assassin’s Creed Shadows, for example, we have a weather system that will affect gameplay; ponds that were once suitable for swimming could, for example, freeze over. Visually, we’re also seeing a big step forward for the series. I’ve also talked a lot about the potential I see in generative AI and how it can enrich NPCs to make them smarter and more interactive. This could potentially extend to the animals of the world, to the world itself. There is still so much we can do to enrich these open worlds and make them even more dynamic.

What do you think Assassin’s Creed Shadows brings to the series that might appeal to players who have never played Assassin’s Creed before or have given up on the series?

YG: I think the fact that you’re set in feudal Japan and exploring such a beautiful world with two complementary but different characters is a very appealing proposition. You can choose how to handle any situation by playing the role of a shinobi or a samurai, and have very different experiences depending on your choice. I can’t wait for players new and old to get their hands on it.

On the Assassin’s Creed side, we’ve had Mirage, which was a more stripped-down homage to the series’ roots, and now Shadows, which is much broader in scope and more akin to Odyssey/Valhalla. Looking to the future, can we expect such diversity? Small games alongside bigger ones?

YA: First, players can be excited about some of the remakes, which will allow us to revisit some of the games we’ve made in the past and modernize them; there are worlds in some of our older Assassin’s Creed games that are still extremely rich. Second, to answer your question, there will be a lot of diversity in the experience. The goal is to have Assassin’s Creed games coming out more regularly, but not to have it be the same experience every year. There’s a lot of good stuff coming, including Assassin’s Creed Hexe, which we’ve announced, which will be a very different game from Assassin’s Creed Shadows. We’re going to surprise people, I think.

While some GaaS games have maintained a large and loyal player base, we’ve seen a lot of publishers try and fail in this landscape. What can Ubisoft bring to the games-as-a-service market to ensure they stand out from the crowd?

YG: We need to continue to listen carefully to our players and make informed decisions about where to focus our efforts, because if you succeed in GaaS, you can succeed in the long term. Let’s look at XDefiant. There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s managed to attract 11 million players in a short period of time. And that number will grow with all the work the team is doing to ensure that the first season adds much more to the existing experience. It’s about making the right choices and sticking with them.

(UN) (UBI CORP) Interview with Yves - XDefiant

What are your hopes for XDefiant in the future?

YA: Apart from it being continually updated, with different experiences and optimized gameplay, I would like to see it as a serious e-sport. But really, for a game like this, there are no limits to its future. And we have a fantastic team working there, listening to our players and communicating with them, which is so crucial. We’ve started strong, but there’s still a long way to go, and I’m excited that we’re taking on the challenge.

Let’s quickly talk about Ubisoft’s Snowdrop and Anvil engines. What advantages do they bring to Ubisoft games?

YG: They are specialized and differentiate our games. We will continue to invest in our proprietary engines; the creators of our engines understand what our games need, what our game developers need, and they adapt our engines to those needs. This is why we can continue to push our visuals and gameplay to new heights.

I would like to end with a two-part question. Part One: What’s bothering you about the video game industry right now?

YG: I am particularly concerned about the personal and malicious online attacks that have been directed against some of our team members and partners. I would like to make it clear that we at Ubisoft condemn these heinous acts in the strongest possible terms, and I encourage the rest of the industry and gamers to denounce them as well. I’m proud to support the incredible work of our teams and partners, and I will always have confidence in their creative choices. We should all celebrate the hard work and talent that goes into creating video games.

It’s very clear. So, the second part of the question: what excites you about the video game industry right now?

YG: What excites me, and always has, is new technology and the potential it can bring to our developers and, of course, our players. I would love to see hardware evolve even faster. The fact that games have been compatible with current and previous generation consoles for some time is fantastic for our catalog and our players, but it has held the industry back a bit when it comes to developing truly new experiences. If we as game makers can more quickly embrace and master technological advances like generative AI and the cloud, we will be much better positioned to create great new experiences for players.

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