After a tough year, Ubisoft is tripling down on Assassin's Creed with plans to boost the franchise's already massive 2,000-person team to approximately 2,800 developers.
As part of its annual financial report, Ubisoft confirmed plans to "increase the number of talents working on the Assassin’s Creed brand by 40% over the coming years." On a follow-up conference call, CFO Frédérick Duguet clarified that "today, we have around 2,000 talents working on the franchise" already – a staggering figure worth repeating, but also a number consistent with the enormous lineup of upcoming Assassin's Creed games. It's good to remember that the vast majority of games, even at the AAA level, have far fewer developers than the amount that Ubisoft now wants to add to Assassin's Creed.
The vast majority of those soon-to-be Assassin's Creed developers will be pulled from other Ubisoft projects, according to CEO Yves Guillemot. "The resources will come from other games, so it's a reallocation of resources to go to Assassin's Creed to grow the brand big time," he said on today's call. "It's really in our focus to put more emphasis on our ongoing brands."
Ubisoft's report shows it's collectively down roughly 700 staff since September 2022 – the result of headcount cuts tied to a broader restructuring of the company amid financial difficulties. For reference, the publisher reported a year-on-year net bookings dip of 18%. Ubisoft is cutting expenses wherever it can, predicting a €200m reduction over the next two years, as it works to reinforce its biggest and, historically, safest properties.
"While this past year was challenging for the industry and for Ubisoft, it was pivotal for the company as we reinforced our strategic focus on our biggest opportunities, initiated a meaningful cost reduction plan and provided additional development time for our strong pipeline of content," as Guillemot put it.
In the 2022-23 fiscal year, Assassin's Creed produced "record active users for the franchise," Ubisoft says. Assassin's Creed Valhalla's life-to-date player count is now 44% above Assassin's Creed Origins and 19% above Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and the Viking RPG is apparently yielding "materially higher revenue per player" to match. Ubisoft is clearly looking to build on that momentum, and it's put about six different irons in the fire to do so, including the hard-to-explain online franchise portal Assassin's Creed Infinity.
We'll learn more about the publisher's lineup at its E3-adjacent Ubisoft Forward next month.
Even after canceling seven projects, Ubisoft has an unannounced "large, premium" game coming in the year ahead.