Following a spate of delays and underwhelming 2019 sales figures for key titles like The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft is reportedly planning to restructure its editorial team and, by extension, shake up its games.
As first reported by VGC, for the past 20 years Ubisoft has employed a central editorial team of around 100 people and tasked them with overseeing the development of its titles. Advising on a variety of key aspects from visual design to scripts, this team is believed to have had a significant influence on the direction of Ubisoft’s games, resulting in “a cohesive vision across all Ubisoft titles, with learnings from one project feeding into the next”.
Given Ubisoft’s huge success with franchises like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, this approach has clearly worked to some extent. However, more recently it’s been felt that it's also led to too much similarity between Ubisoft’s games, with one anonymous source reportedly saying “there were often the ideas of just one or two people getting put into every game. That’s why you tended to see such similarity, because it’s the same taste and opinion being replicated”.
As a result, Ubisoft is planning to expand and restructure its editorial team, telling VGC, “We are reinforcing our editorial team to be more agile and better accompany our development teams around the world as they create the best gaming experiences for players.”
According to VGC’s sources, Ubisoft’s chief creative officer, Serge Hascoet, will still lead the editorial team overall. However, there will be an additional group vice presidents, each leading their own franchises with more autonomy and freedom to make decisions.
The hope is that this will result in more variation between Ubisoft’s games which have increasingly faced accusations of being formulaic and overly similar; following Ghost Recon Breakpoint’s disappointing performance, CEO Yves Guillemot himself said that the game “did not come in with enough differentiation factors, which prevented the game’s intrinsic qualities from standing out.”
Overall, it looks like Ubisoft is listening to players and gearing up to make some big changes ahead of the launch of the next generation. The impact of this new approach could be seen quite quickly, with VGC reporting that at least one title that was far into its development has now been cancelled while other games still in development have been altered "with the intention of making them more distinct". Hopefully we’ll see more novelty in the titles Ubisoft brings to PS5 and Xbox Series X.