Live Service Games
Live service games are among the most popular types of games these days. In the simplest terms, these games are basically "never-ending."
A decade ago, people were calling this a trend and now we have Grand Theft Auto Online posting massive gains for Take-Two, Genshin Impact raking in billions as a free-to-play game across multiple platforms, worldwide. Live service games (or as the industry calls it, "Games as a Service" or GaaS), have proven quite lucrative. According to a report by VG247, GaaS has caused the entire video game industry's value to triple.
Furthermore, the report has also found that people seem to be less than willing to pay full price for an entire game and are opting for those who get a steady stream of new content either for free or at a considerable discount compared to regular games.
As a result, more and more developers are adopting this concept for their biggest projects these past few years, as evident by them supporting their games for months and even years after release.
Assassin's Creed's Golden Years
It’s 2007 and the first Assassin’s Creed, developed primarily by Ubisoft Montreal, has been released. The game takes us to the Holy Land during the Crusades. The player character is Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, living through the memories of 21st-century assassin Desmond Miles.
It succeeds in capturing a niche audience who were left clamouring for more. The next three games collectively known as the ‘Ezio collection’ are famous for amassing critical acclaim. The first two take place in Renaissance Italy.
The player character is Ezio Auditore; a banker's son who sees his family executed by a Templar conspiracy represented by the Borgia family. His uncle trains him to become an Assassin to avenge his family and join the battle against the Templars.
The third one mostly takes place in Istanbul, concluding Ezio Auditore's storyline. Assassins Creed III takes us to Revolutionary America, mostly Boston, New York, and surrounding areas dividing the fanbase. A year later, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag takes us to the Caribbean during The Golden Age of Piracy and is a smash hit, instantly reigniting the fanbase’s love for the franchise.
At this point that Ubisoft Quebec was brought in and that’s where the problems began. The next games take us to Revolutionary Paris and Victorian London but couldn’t gather fan traction.
Then after a year gap Assassin's Creed: Origins skips back 2000 years in history, taking place in Ptolemaic Egypt and eastern Libya. Then Assassin's Creed: Odyssey turns back time to Ancient Greece, which is the earliest historical period in the series. Finally, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla takes place in the Viking Age, mostly in England and Norway. The sales have definitely gone up but Assassin’s Creed never reached the height of fandom it created in Assassin’s Creed II.
Assassin's Creed Infinity: What is it?
According to Jason Schreier's report on Bloomberg Infinity will be a massive online platform that evolves over time, instead of giving us just one historical setting infinity will deliver multiple settings and give room to expand over many years, each game might look and feel different, but they will all be connected.
According to Jason Infinity could be a hub that supports multiple AC games both big and small. Instead of "continuing to pass the baton from game to game" as Ubisoft put it in its official announcement, Infinity will be able to "evolve in a more integrated and collaborative manner that's less centred on studios and more focused on talent and leadership."
Will Assassin's Creed Infinity be multiplayer/MMO?
There's a lot of talk about this being the AC version of Destiny or Anthem, but nothing we've heard so far confirms that. It's natural to associate live service with Co-op or multiplayer because most life Service Games do that.
It would make sense to assume that it has multiplayer of some kind, but Ubisoft may just keep it single-player and allow players to explore its evolving world solo.
Assassin's Creed Infinity: Setting & Content
Assassin's Creed Infinity will apparently include multiple settings, allowing players to explore different locations and time periods in a single game. What we don't know are the exact locations or time periods it's set to take place. The franchise's long-running tagline is "history is our playground," so there's no telling where Ubisoft could take us next.
We could conceivably go anywhere. Highly requested locations have been places like ancient Japan and China. Hopefully, we'll be seeing new locations in Assassin's Creed Infinity instead of rehashes of regions we've already been to.
This game is expected to see frequent new content. Maybe weekly releases of new weapons, new missions and challenges and so on. It would also make sense to adopt a seasonal structure like Valhalla is trying to do. Maybe in one season, we'll get this episodic arc about an Assassin in South America, and then the next season, we'll go to Africa or to the Russian Revolution.
Assassin's Creed Infinity: Gameplay
Ubisoft is most likely going to double down on the looter RPG formula, only because that's what's been working. We can speculate that it will likely play similarly to Assassin's Creed Valhalla or other open-world Ubisoft titles. If that's the case, we could see RPG elements like dialogue choices return.
This could be an opportunity to reintroduce characters from previous games with new content instead of outfits in every game to attract older fans.
How is Infinity going to work?
Exactly. It's still very early, but Ubisoft has definitely talked about the platform being HELIX, or ABSTERGO related, at the beginning of AC Unity, you might remember there's a menu, a HELIX menu which shows a lot of different historical settings within the Animus. It's probably going to be multiple pieces of Assassin's Creed content of varying sizes.
We'll get mostly bigger experiences because that's what's been working. It may not be one huge game but by the end of this thing it could end up being just as big as the last three games combined.
This is a great starting point for how infinity might work, but again, this is three years away, and a lot can change, there’s no way the Animus isn't a core part of infinity. It's in every single game, it makes too much sense. Then again, Ubisoft does like to surprise us.
Is this the end of traditional single-player AC games?
No! Ubisoft is not done making those solo narrative-driven Assassin's Creed games, but when we see those in the future when they come out, they will now be part of Infinity, instead of a new game releasing every fall like we're used to.
There's going to be one platform that is constantly evolving and expanding with new content, again the idea is that this will be the hub for all things Assassin's Creed.
Will AC Infinity tie into the main series?
The main series narrative has been a spiralling mess for several years now after Assassin's Creed 3, and it just seemed to find its footing again between Origins and Valhalla with Layla as the modern-day protagonist.
How Ubisoft ties Infinity with the existing Assassin’s Creed story is still unknown. But everything on Infinity will have a shared progression.
Is it free-to-play with microtransactions?
We don't know whether it will be free-to-play or not. Assassin's Creed titles generally cost $60, but Infinity being a live service game may change that if Ubisoft decides to subsidize its development and maintenance with microtransactions.
Also, if the last few games are anything to go by Infinity will incorporate some form of microtransactions, most live service games do this, so it's more than fair to assume that infinity will too. Expect them to sell overpriced character packs as they have since Origins.
We could also see a Battle Pass like system where players can earn premium content if they pay an upfront price, double XP, rotations of content, time-limited challenges etc. This might sound cringy depending on who you are but all of these ideas have to be in play if this becomes a platform that wants to keep people playing, while also bringing in new players. Seeing as the project is still years away, any plans that Ubisoft has right now may change.
Who is working on AC Infinity?
Ubisoft decided to make this a collaborative project between their Montreal and Quebec studios. According to them, this will unify the direction of the series, and put the focus on talent and leadership rather than studios, in theory, this should make the games feel more consistent.
I mean that's been a problem since Black Flag, but we'll see. Jason Schreier claims though that Quebec is going to take charge of this project over Montreal, there's been a long-standing rivalry between the studios so this may cause issues, especially if Ubisoft is framing this as a collaborative project.
As of now, development on Assassin’s Creed Infinity will be led by Marc-Alexis Côté, who will serve as executive producer of the Assassin’s Creed franchise; Ubisoft Montreal’s Julien Laferrière, who has been named senior producer; and Jonathan Dumont and Clint Hocking, who will lead as creative directors, overseeing the teams at Ubisoft Quebec and Ubisoft Montreal, respectively.
Assassin's Creed Infinity: Release date and platforms
We've been getting a new game every year or two. But that changes with Infinity, both of the main AC studios, Quebec and Montreal, are working on this project. Sources have indicated that Assassin's Creed Infinity is aiming for a 2024 release, which is in line with what Schreier heard of "2024 or later." Obviously, because of the pandemic and ever-changing plans, nothing is set in stone at the moment.
No platforms have been announced, but given the timeframe, it will probably release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS5, and PC. It's also within reason to expect new-gen enhancements like 4K-60FPS (maybe even 120FPS) considering at that point the Series X and S will have been on the market for four to five years.
What about sexual misconduct?
Ubisoft ignored the issue in their press release for AC Infinity so it looks like they're trying to bury the story, we know that two key developers on this project were accused of sexual misconduct, and according to internal communications, some employees are not happy about that Ubisoft is choosing to keep these people around, and they will help shape the future of this franchise. So that's everything that we know for sure so far which is obviously not a lot.
Games providing a similar experience
Although Infinity is being compared with Fortnite, Destiny or even GTA Online, I doubt it will be anything like those. As the Bloomberg report states, this will be a hub for all things Assassin’s Creed. The closest example I can think of is The Elder Scrolls Online from ZeniMax.
Similar to Assassin’s Creed, ESO ties in a long historical franchise into a monthly subscription MMO game featuring vast different worlds known and unknown served via periodical updates to the fans of the franchise. Fallout 76 is also a similar example.
Genshin Impact is a cross-platform example but it’s safe to assume that infinity won’t be coming to mobile platforms like Android or iOS. But still, it’s too early to be sure.
We should be cautiously interested in AC Infinity. I think it's possible for Infinity to make older fans and newer fans happy, I am worried about the model though, Ubisoft might be caught with the bag when this finally comes out in three years’ time.
If Assassin's Creed Infinity does see the light of day and it fails, I don't think it's going to be because it's live service, it'll be because it's not good enough. As funny as it might sound, if you had asked the community about this idea right after Assassin's Creed 3 in 2012, I think people would have been losing their minds with hype.
But as it stands now, Assassin's Creed is a fractured franchise, being tugged in multiple directions. It doesn't even focus on Assassins anymore. For those reasons, I think it needs a radical shift like this. So, that's why we should definitely pay attention to whatever this project ends up being.
Don't forget to check out our dedicated Assassin's Creed Valhalla section for guides, news, and everything else you want to know about the latest entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise.