It turns out that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. Assassin's Creed: Origins only launched a couple of weeks ago, and already Ubisoft is reporting a marked increase in sales compared to the most recent mainline entry in the series. Double, in fact.
Arriving on Oct. 27, Assassin's Creed: Origins is apparently flying off of the shelf. Ubisoft recently sent out an earnings report with some sales figures and, according to their PR, sales for this latest entry in the long-running series are up 100 percent in comparison to Assassin's Creed Syndicate. This is on a comparable basis, based on estimates from the first 10 days of sales of the game.
That certainly throws a wrinkle into the idea that gamers want to see their favorite series annualized. It's also a solid data point for the ongoing discussion of whether or not AAA development can sustain itself under the current structure.
Looking back, it's not like Assassin's Creed Syndicate was lacking in hype or was poorly received. It was a decent departure from previous games in the series, so it was less likely to experience drop-off from fans who didn't want to wear the same hooded cloak while exploring familiar locales. It also had two protagonists; another good selling point for the game.
But while Syndicate came out and did well in 2015, it still came out just a year after the previous entry, which came out a year before the previous entry, which came out a year...Well, you see where I'm going with this.
Anyway, Ubisoft made the call not to rush out the next Assassin's Creed game in 2016, waiting until this fall to return to the world of running along rooftops and stabbing corrupt world leaders as a member of a shadowy organization. Apparently, two years was enough time to give fatigued fans a chance to catch their breath, as well as win over some new interest. With Origins selling double the copies of Syndicate, we can't help but wonder if this will mark the beginning of a new development cycle for the series.
The big discussion as of late is whether or not the AAA industry can continue at the pace it's going. This past year has seen a ridiculous number of big games launch, but it's also marked the closure of many studios. Even worse, we're hearing more and more stories from the folks actually making these games about the hard work, ridiculous hours and obscene crunch they must go through to churn out a title as quickly as possible to help their publisher meet an often unrealistic deadline and bottom line.
Maybe the success of Assassin's Creed: Origins will encourage publishers to pump the breaks a bit and shift back to more realistic timelines for game development.