You may have noticed a common theme across Ubisoft's upcoming games: Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, The Division, and The Crew are all open world games with varying degrees of seamless multiplayer built in.
That's not for lack of ideas, The Crew creative director Julian Gerighty told Polygon. Ubisoft is capitalizing on a definitive element of the next generation of games.
"It's one of those things where the online aspect, the seamless aspect, the living, breathing world aspect, that is provided by the online adds so much to the experience that it's a shame to be able to say, 'OK, you can play the game, but you can't have that part of it,'" Gerighty said. "It's a really key part of it, much like World of Warcraft. I genuinely think the open world game without the seamless aspect to it is going to feel a little artificial, a little forced in a few years time. Today it can still work."
The best medium for these always-connected features is an open-world game, Watch Dogs animation director Colin Graham said. Players direct their own experiences instead of wandering down a tailored path, so the unpredictable actions of other players are a more natural addition to the formula.
"I think moving forward, players are looking for more space to play with, they're looking for more experiences," Graham said. "They don't just want to play a story, they also want to explore a world. For us building all of Chicago kind of makes sense and it fits in with the type of game Ubisoft wants to build right now."
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot was clearly all-in on open worlds in a conference call with investors earlier today.