This kind of sounds like a case of Ubisoft getting a bit too ahead of themselves. Whereas there can be little doubt that both the Assassin’s Creed games have been extremely well received, and are among the freshest and best games this generation so far, I don’t ever see the series being as big as GTA, simply because the medieval sci-fi setting of the game cannot appeal to as many people as GTA’s more modern urban ghetto mafia based locales can.
Ubisoft, though, thinks otherwise. As per the French publisher, Assassin’s Creed will be as big as GTA in the ‘not too distant future.’
“To be honest, I’m not sure we’re there yet,” UK marketing boss Murray Pannell told Eurogamer when asked whether Assassin’s Creed will be as big as GTA.
“But I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t get there at some point in the not-too-distant future. That’s about longevity and building decent products, properly marketed, and getting the name out there.
“I believe with the success of Assassin’s 2 we have now got an opportunity to position ourselves as one of the true triple-A blockbusters. Are we as big as things like GTA and Halo and things of that nature? Possibly not at this point. But I think we are uniquely poised now as a property, as a franchise, to certainly consider ourselves one of the must-have games whenever a game launches on Assassin’s Creed in the franchise.”
He may have a point, though. It took Grand Theft Auto three full entries before sales of the franchise were anything noteworthy. COmpare this with Assassin’s Creed II, which is only the second full game in the series. Having released last year, Ubisoft announced it had already shipped nine million copies worldwide by this May. In contrast, Grand Theft Auto IV, which launched to rave reviews in early 2008, has sold 15 million units worldwide so far. In such a case, it would appear that Assassin’s Creed is catching up.
Panell seems to agree. He believes that a bigger marketing push for games in the series from Ubisoft will lead to added growth for the franchise:
“It’s fair to say Assassin’s 1 promised a lot and slightly under-delivered in terms of gameplay. Assassin’s 2 promised even more and actually this time delivered on it. And I believe quality of the game will be a fundamental part of positioning ourselves in that blockbuster franchise space.
“As marketing director, it’s part of our role and responsibility to position it from a consumer point of view as one of those big blockbusters through decent marketing campaigns. One thing we’ve been doing already is advertising Assassin’s: Brotherhood on TV this summer, three or four months before launch. That only helps position it in consumers’ minds as, ‘This is a big game I need to consider as one of the true blockbuster franchises’.”
He said that the difference in marketing would be immediately apparent with the release of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, which is due later this year.
“In terms of expectations, people should certainly see this as a full price product with as much depth of gameplay if not more than the version we brought out a year ago. We’re certainly positioning it that way. We’re investing in the product in that way. And in terms of our expectations from a sales point of view, we’d see it doing at least as well as Assassin’s 2, if not, ideally, better.”
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood will be launching later this year on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Watch out for our review of the game.