Ubisoft’s shift towards games as a service has been well documented. The likes of Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, and Ghost Recon Wildlands have all ably demonstrated how a game can have long legs, particularly in its multiplayer modes. Ubisoft’s plans for GaaS don’t end there though, as vice president Lionel Raynaud has said the French publisher intends to phase out “finite experiences” entirely, even for its single-player games.
For all Ubisoft’s GaaS success, it still has a number of huge, primarily single-player driven titles like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Splinter Cell. We’re gradually seeing these shift away from the ‘once and done’ approach though, with Ubisoft looking to explore how single-player games can live on long-term.
“What drove this is the will to not give finite experiences. The idea was that you have this conflict, and the resolution, and then it’s finished – you’ve killed the bad guy, for instance. We build a strong nemesis, and the goal of the game is to kill him or free the country, we’ve done that a few times in our games. But when you succeed, you have to leave the game, because there is nothing else to do,” explains Raynaud in a corporate update.
“So the goal was to break this, and say that you will be the hero of a region or population many times, not just once. And if you get rid of a dictator or an oppressor, something else is going to happen in the world, and you will have a new goal.”
Precisely where you stand on this is going to vary greatly from person to person. Ubisoft clearly envisages single-player games that just never end, with a constant stream of (presumably paid) content that can keep dishing out new adventures until players are bored. On the one hand, this means more of the games we love. On the other, this could be seen as the destruction of the cohesive, unified and complete experience that many want from their single-player games. There’s a lot to be said for a grand narrative with a decisive and climactic ending, and drip feeding out new baddies and areas ad infinitum could rob Ubisoft games of their impact.
What do you think then, would you prefer to see Ubisoft’s single-player games take this longer-term approach with more bite-sized stories to tell, or are you a fan of a game having a grand narrative and a definitive finale?