It’s safe to say that 2020 wasn’t kind to Ubisoft. The publisher and many of its high-level employees were eviscerated by controversy stemming from numerous complaints of sexual harassment and toxic behavior. Employees and former workers were coming out in droves to describe their experiences. As a result, the company saw sweeping changes across the board. Not too long afterward, Ubisoft was again slapped with the controversy tag. Their new mobile game Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad featured insensitive imagery that some equated to mocking the Black Lives Matter movement. Things went from bad to worse, and it left the future of Ubisoft in limbo as 2021 was around the corner.
Fast forward a few short months, and the company appears to be on the rise. Following the aftermath of the aforementioned scandals, Ubisoft looks to start its healing process and get back to doing what it does best: making kick-ass games. The latter portion of 2020 saw successful releases for the French publisher, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Their recent success, coupled with highly anticipated installments from some of their flagship franchises has Ubisoft moving full speed ahead.
If there ever was a silver lining to all of the Ubisoft controversies, it would be the critical and financial success of 2020’s holiday season. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was met with general critical acclaim and broke sales records upon release. Fantasy RPG Immortals: Fenyx Rising quietly became one of the most enjoyable titles of the year. Rainbow Six Siege launched yet another successful Operation and is heading into its sixth year of ongoing support. These accomplishments have Ubi riding new highs into 2021, and more focus on their upcoming titles.
2021 is looking to be a stacked year for Ubisoft releases, thanks to a few setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Far Cry 6, starring “The Mandalorian” and “Breaking Bad” stud Giancarlo Esposito, is coming. Rainbow Six Quarantine was also pushed into the new year and remains one of the most anticipated games on the slate. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake looks to revive the classic franchise with next-gen capabilities. If anything will help win the affection of those who have lost faith, it’s nailing the release of these titles. I’ll be keeping a close eye on their development.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Recent rumors regarding Ubisoft+ joining the Xbox Game Pass library have started picking up steam. It’s unconfirmed as of the writing of this article, but it would be a major boost to Ubisoft in 2021. A while back, I put the subscription service on blast for being overpriced and having a weak catalog in comparison to Xbox Game Pass. My opinion on that remains the same, but merging with the subscription giant would be beneficial for both parties involved. There are high-quality games on Ubisoft+, but the library is too weak to stand on its own. EA Play also had a similar issue, although offering a slightly more diverse selection of games.
Integrating classic titles like Splinter Cell and early Ghost Recon entries into the Game Pass lineup only makes sense. A lot of early Tom Clancy titles are best remembered on the original Xbox console. Rainbow Six Siege has been a strong addition for months now. Ubisoft+, as it stands, is only available on PC and the cloud through Stadia and Amazon Luna. That’s a weak distribution plan. Partnering with Xbox Game Pass will provide the option to reach out to console users and over 15 million subscribers. Not only does that have an immediate impact, but Ubi will feel the long term effects by attracting new players to their upcoming releases.
What the future holds for Ubisoft in 2021 is ultimately up to them. A black cloud still looms overhead from the terrible events that transpired in 2020. Those are scars that they’ll have to acknowledge. However, recent success and continued prosperity through upcoming marquee games and a potential Game Pass deal could vault Ubisoft back to the top – and possibly restore the balance. There will be a lot of eyes on them in the upcoming months, and I’m eager to see what they have up their sleeve in 2021.
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