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Ubisoft's Live Service Focus Is Making Its Games Worse – Screen Rant

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Ubisoft seems more focused on creating live service games instead of traditional AAA releases, but this change is ruining what makes its games fun.
In recent years, live service games have seemingly convinced developers like Ubisoft to invest in their development due to potentially high-earning potential. Most developers likely want people playing their games for as long as possible. However, Ubisoft’s method of implementing the live service revenue model has made its games worse. Moreover, it doesn’t seem like it’s willing to change that philosophy any time soon.
The company announced its next Assassin’s Creed title, codenamed Assassin’s Creed Infinity, will be a live service game that incorporates multiple historical settings while evolving over time. This announcement coincides with the previous report that Ubisoft would focus more on free-to-play live service games instead of the annual AAA release schedule it had been using for the better part of the decade.
Related: Why Splinter Cell Still Hasn’t Gotten A New Game Announcement
Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed already have live service elements within them, though sometimes without the online component. For instance, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla implemented experience boosters and other microtransactions. In cases like Fortnite, the live service model works because there’s more of an emphasis on multiplayer gameplay than story. But for a series like Assassin’s Creed, where gameplay and story are closely linked, problems can occur.
Ubisoft is missing the part that makes its games attractive to players – the fun factor. Before the annualized releases, the company was known for its fascinating open worlds, which players would explore for hours. Assassin’s Creed 2 and Black Flag probably had the best cases for this, with unique approaches to historical fiction that intertwine with the series’ overarching story. That approach to world design is almost gone, as open-world games have gotten too big – bloated maps that hold little value to the story or the player besides a box checked off on the virtual to-do list of trophies and achievements. A feature worsened by the use of microtransactions.
One of the worst things happening to single-player games, not exclusive to Ubisoft, is hiding content behind a paywall. Items like armor and weapons, typically earned by completing a specific quest or crafting, instead sits in an online shop waiting to be purchased with real money. Valhalla does this with its armor sets, and Watch Dogs: Legion does this with character sets. Both of these require in-game currency, which can be bought with real-world money, to purchase. Experience point boosts are also a symptom of this DLC model.
Related: AC Infinity Could Bring Another New Feature To Assassin’s Creed
Experience boosts in a single-player game could indicate that Ubisoft’s open-worlds have gotten too big. Grinding, usually attributed to games like The Division 2, does not translate well into single-player. Instead of having fun, players slog through gameplay to earn enough experience to level up their character. Buying experience, a resource that visualizes progression in the game, cheapens the overall enjoyment of besting an enemy. In the case of Valhalla, the player gets to reduce the intentional grind and accelerate the time typically needed to progress further.
The announcement of Tom Clancy’s XDefiant has further worried the franchise fanbase that Ubisoft is misusing the “Tom Clancy” name. Games like Splinter Cell or the original Rainbow Six games were much darker in tone than recent entries. Tom Clancy’s worlds never featured an edgy, punk-rock-inspired aesthetic, but XDefiant does. Rather than keep in line with what made these games unique, Ubisoft seems more inclined to use the Clancy name for marketing. This identity crisis extends to Assassin’s Creed too.
Assassin’s Creed Infinity is more of a promise to double down on Ubisoft’s new vision for the series. The old vision was assassins working in shadows to guide the world toward justice and peace, which reflects in the first half of the series’s focus on stealth. Now, Assassin’s Creed has become an RPG-lite. Flashy abilities and damage numbers now take precedence over skilled assassinations.
Splinter Cell approaches its 20th anniversary next year, but it’s already been nearly seven years since a release in the franchise. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist was released in 2013 to universal praise from critics and fans alike. Yet, Ubisoft has shied away almost entirely from the action-adventure stealth series and offers little hope of continuation in recent years. Aside from the Echelons making an appearance in XDefiant, Splinter Cell’s last appearance is in Rainbow Six Siege. Series protagonist Sam Fisher has appeared in several different Ubisoft franchises in recent years, but none have led to a return to the franchise.
Other Ubisoft franchises are also being seemingly ignored or postponed. Beyond Good and Evil 2, another fan-favorite franchise, hasn’t had an update about its progress since 2019. Prince of Persia will return in 2022 with a remake but hasn’t seen a new mainline release since 2010. Other franchises include Rayman and Brothers In Arms; Rayman’s last major release was in 2013, and the last Brothers In Arms game was in 2008.
Related: Assassin’s Creed Live Service Game Is Better Than Microtransactions
These franchises could return in the future, but given Ubisoft’s current course, that seems increasingly unlikely. Rayman took a backseat to the Rabbids, who have teamed with Mario and received a TV show on Nickelodeon since their introduction in Rayman Ravin’ Rabbids. Fan hopes for a new game were dashed when Ubisoft denied a concept art leak. As for Splinter Cell, it’s easy to see how upset fans would be with a free-to-play game based on the franchise, which is perhaps why Ubisoft hasn’t made one yet.
Ubisoft’s live service games are diminishing the appeal of its current franchises. Its approach to integrating live service features into its existing properties only serves to bloat otherwise solid games with monetization. That isn’t to say that Ubisoft can’t make a good live service game. Steep, The Crew 2, and The Division 2 are all examples that the company’s various studios can do it. Moreover, a series like Watch Dogs would probably benefit from a live service model with its themes of social interactivity. However, if XDefiant is the future of Ubisoft franchises moving forward, it may be some time before Ubisoft realizes what makes its franchises enjoyable again. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too long.
Next: Everything We Know About Assassin’s Creed Infinity
A graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Desmond began writing for Screen Rant in February of 2021. When he isn’t writing for Screen Rant, Desmond can be found watching wrestling, playing rogue-lites and Monster Hunter, or getting into the latest lore discussion on Reddit. You can find his work at https://thedesmondbrown.wordpress.com/ and his entertainment site https://www.proteanentertainmentnews.com/. He is also on Twitter @TheTruthIsBlac

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PlayStation Making New PS5 Triple-A Online Game – TheGamer

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No details have been announced, but we’ve dug through the job descriptions to piece things together.
PlayStation's London studio is currently hiring a team to get development underway for an upcoming online PS5 game. Based on the job descriptions, it seems the project is in the very early stages of development, so we likely won't see a trailer or even a name for a while yet.
What we do know is that this will be "an ambitious AAA project," one that will likely feature co-op gameplay and potentially some procedurally generated levels. The job descriptions also point to this being a live-service title, something Sony is currently lacking. There is Dreams, but that isn't triple-A, and Genshin Impact isn't on Xbox, but it's not a first-party game either.
RELATED: How Can Sony Compete With Xbox's Activision Blizzard Buyout?
The available roles range from leads with shipped titles under their belts to juniors just getting started, and even one that requires no games industry experience whatsoever. Each role also includes a clear commitment to increasing diversity across the studio, something that appears sorely needed if the almost all-white team photo on the website is anything to go by.
Many of the job listings require experience with online triple-A titles for console and PC, Unreal or Unity game engine knowledge, and procedural environment generation. There's also relatively standard stuff like character artists and AI programmers, so we can expect to be interacting with NPCs in the game.
One requirement for the lead level designer was "experience designing for online multiplayer combat," but whether that'll be PvP, PvE, or a mix of the two remains to be seen.
Each lead is expected to help build their own teams, and the studio is also hiring for an internal recruiter, so it looks like these hires are just the tip of the iceberg for the new project.
The appeal of PlayStation has always been its exclusives, so if this upcoming game is any good it could help PS5 sales stay even further ahead of the Xbox Series than they're predicted to be already. Sony's stock value plummeted by $20 billion after Microsoft's ABK purchase, so seeing new games are being worked on – especially in a genre as profitable online live-service – could ease shareholder fears.
Next: You Don't Know Fear Until Your Engine Has Malfunctioned On A Dark Country Road In Euro Truck Simulator
The power of word of mouth.
Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.

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The story on how John Madden came to be involved with wildly popular EA Sports NFL video game – USA TODAY

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If the creators of the NFL video game so many millions of people have played had their way, the wildly popular franchise would not have been known simply as Madden.
According to a story ESPN published in 2016, legendary coach and analyst John Madden was the third choice of Trip Hawkins, the eventual founder of video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), to be the pitchman of the game that eventually became Madden NFL. An avid football fan, Hawkins’ first choice was legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and former Vikings and Patriots quarterback and Cal Bears coach Joe Kapp.
Madden, who died at the age of 85 Tuesday, continues to be one of the game’s most prominent icons. He was first a player, though a knee injury in his rookie season in 1958 with the Philadelphia Eagles cut his career short. He went on to be the head coach of the Raiders, where he won a Super Bowl. He became a television analyst during NFL games and made the game accessible for millions of viewers. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2006. 
But it’s his constant presence on the video game franchise, arguably, that serves as his strongest connection to new generations of football fans and gamers alike.
OPINION: John Madden will live forever because his influence was so great
MORE: ‘The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer’: John Madden quotes that will never be forgotten
According to ESPN, Montana could not be involved because he had a conflicting endorsement deal with video game console maker Atari, while Kapp wanted royalties. According to the article, Madden was so impressed with Hawkins’ credentials — he went to Harvard and worked at Apple — that he agreed to sign on.
It proved to be a shrewd decision. Despite slow production and years of releases before it became a household name, Madden NFL has generated more than $4 billion since its inception and has sold more than 130 million copies, according to EA. Barron’s estimates that Madden NFL generates around $600 million annually for EA.
Still, Madden lamented one major mistake that cost him millions more.
According to ESPN, after “John Madden Football” was released in 1988, Hawkins approached Madden and said EA was about to have an initial public offering and that Madden could “have as much stock” as he wanted, though he would have to pay the initial price of $7.50 per share.
“Hell, I’m just a football coach,” Madden told ESPN. “I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, ‘I gave you my time. I’m not giving you my money.’ I showed him!”
In only the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, the price soared to $70 per share, according to ESPN.
Said Madden: “That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life.”
Originally, the game was planned as being a seven-on-seven competition, due to the limitations of computing back when it was being initially programmed. Madden, however, balked at that idea and wanted the game — if he was going to appear on its cover — to be as authentic as possible. 
“If it wasn’t real football, I didn’t want my name on it,” Madden told Grantland in January 2012. “I wanted it to be real football — pro football — with the sideline, the numbers, the hash marks. Everything had to be pro football.”
One other unique aspect of the game is how the plays and formations users can call and execute are taken directly from NFL playbooks. Madden sent a 1980 Oakland Raiders playbook to Hawkins and former EA producer Joe Ybarra.
To elaborate on that, the game’s producers sought to mimic the playbooks of the teams featured in the game.
“For our playbooks, I would say to (former San Francisco Examiner beat writer and consultant) Frank (Cooney), ‘Go find out what a team’s five signature plays are,’ ” Hawkins told ESPN. “He would go up to the assistant coaches, hand them paper. And they would draw up plays! We collected a huge amount of plays that way.”
The video game franchise has evolved over the years to incorporate new game play modes and features, as well as tweaks to game play. Its reach across the NFL is comprehensive. Gamers within each locker room undoubtedly have their own copies and challenge each other during games. 
Even one of the game’s most reserved and self-controlled figures — and one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport — has his own exposure to the video game.
“I haven’t played it in quite a while,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday after he opened his press conference with a tribute to Madden. “When my kids were growing up, they would play it and I would watch them. They would beat me.”
Belichick grinned as he told that anecdote, likely thinking back on those memories with his children —two of whom, sons Steve (outside linebackers) and Brian (safeties), are assistants on New England’s staff.
Perhaps that’s the enduring legacy of the Madden NFL franchise. Similar to the way he used charm and humor in the broadcast booth to make the sport appealing to all, the video game allows even those without expertise in the NFL or even in football to simulate the strategy behind it.
“It’s a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level,” Madden told Grantland.

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Blizzard's new IP: Modern meets fantasy online survival game – TweakTown

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Blizzard’s next big IP might be an interesting take on a Kid in King Arthur’s Court and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Today Blizzard confirmed it is working on an ambitious new IP. The unnamed project is a survival game that merges modern and fantasy together, as per details gleaned from a brief concept art glimpse. Job listings also confirm the new IP will be an online-based adventure which is Blizzard’s usual fare.
“Blizzard is embarking on our next quest. We are going on a journey to a whole new universe, home to a brand-new survival game for PC and console. A place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived. A vast realm of possibility, waiting to be explored,” reads a job posting.
We’ve known about Blizzard’s new IPs for a long time. The company has been incubating this new IP and another unannounced multiplayer shooter for a while, and Blizzard is also trying to create a shared games engine to power its future titles.
Alan Adham discussed the new incubation pipeline back in August 2021:
“We’re tight-lipped about it, but our new game pipeline has been in development for many years and it’s greater than it’s ever been across our core franchises and mobile, new IP and new genres. I’m looking forward to our teams launching their already announced new games in the not-too-distant future and in due course announcing a few new ones that you’ve yet to hear about,” Adham said.
So what is Blizzard working on? Here’s a selection:
Derek Strickland
Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man’s Sky with the magic of VR.

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