Assassin's Creed Codename Jade is Ubi's latest commitment to mobile – here's why that's exciting

Assassin's Creed
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

To mark its 15th-year anniversary, Assassin's Creed is getting a lot of new stuff in the not-too-distant future. And while new game reveals, and the fact that the series is finally visiting feudal Japan, were among the headlines that stole the show during Saturday's Ubisoft Forward, it was upcoming mobile game Assassin's Creed Codename Jade that got me thinking about the video games industry as a whole. Sure, Mirage's stealth-infused jaunt to historic Baghdad looks great, and I've long-wanted a shinobi-style AC for many years, but the series' maiden voyage onto handheld screens could be a watershed moment for Ubisoft, as it follows in the footsteps of its sister series' recently-revealed mobile title, The Division Resurgence. 

With high-profile, big-budget games such as Fortnite, PUBG and League of Legends already well-established in the mobile spectrum, The Division and Assassin's Creed's moves to join the party are hardly surprising. But what I'm most interested in longer-term is Ubisoft's commitment to making these games the so-called "benchmark" for mobile titles, and if there's then scope for new features that are rolled out in the likes of The Division Resurgence and Assassin's Creed Codename Jade to be reversed-engineered into their main series counterparts.


Assassin's Creed

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

In conversation with GamesRadar+ earlier this year, The Division Resurgence's executive producer, Fabrice Navrez, echoed similar sentiments, stressing a two-fold desire to create a game that's true to its mainline series inspiration while also reaching a much bigger audience – "so that existing players are discovering something new, while newcomers also have plenty to enjoy." To the latter end, the idea that Ubisoft might run its more experimental features through its mobile games as a means of gauging reception – not least customizable player characters – before reintroducing the most well-received ideas into its mainline games seems plausible. Moreover, looking in the opposite direction (and assuming Codename Jade is a free-to-play title whenever it lands), the flexible nature of mobile gaming puts the devs in a better place to gather instant feedback from players from the outset, especially those familiar with the wider series.

One of the primary selling points for Assassin's Creed Codename Jade during the livestream, for example, was the fact that we'll be able to create our own avatars. "For the first time in our open-world games, you can create your own character," said Ubisoft's Marc-Alexis Cote. "You'll get the chance to do things like parkour atop the Great Wall of China, sneak through bustling cities, engage in intense combat, and discover the secrets and vastness of Ancient China." In doing so, Cote promised the developer's passion for history, and the visuals and features we've come to expect from the mainline series won't be sacrificed as players descend on Ancient China circa 215 BCE in the palm of their hand.

PUBG Mobile

(Image credit: PUBG Corporation)

"For those who don't play on mobile, it's also easy to overlook how powerful smartphones are today."

For those who don't play on mobile, it's also easy to overlook how powerful smartphones are today. With each passing console generation and the advent of the latest high-powered GPUs for PC, we make a big deal about new cutting-edge visuals and effects in-line with advancements in technology. Frame-rates, ray-tracing, graphical fidelity – we hear these buzz-words on repeat, before they're judged in motion by way of the latest games. On the mobile side, we often hear about the power of the latest handset's camera, memory and screen size, but the same attention to detail is rarely extended to their gaming specifications to any degree. Like the footage teased of The Division Resurgence in July, the reveal trailer for Assassin's Creed Codename Jade showcased footage that was exclusively in-engine – tangible proof of how powerful mobile gaming can be in 2022. 

Which, for me, is why Ubisoft is moving so quickly and assuredly into the mobile market at the moment. It's why PUBG Mobile was the highest-grossing mobile game of 2021. It's why Call of Duty Mobile is almost as big as the main games and Warzone combined. It's why Rockstar's parent company Take-Two announced in January that it wants the likes of Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online on mobile devices following its deal with mobile specialist Zynga – and it's why it has similar plans for Borderlands, Red Dead Redemption, and Civilization behind the scenes. The quiet but precise ascension of mobile gaming is now coming into focus, and while there'll inevitably be players who'll never cross the threshold, how the mobile boom might impact mainline series games remains exciting. Assassin's Creed Codename Jade is the latest to make that leap, and I for one will be keeping as close an eye on it as I will the likes of Mirage, Codename Red and Codename Hexe into the future.    

If Assassin's Creed Codename Jade adopts the free-to-play business model, it might end up on our best free games list. 

Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over seven years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.