Did Ubisoft hit breaking point in 2019?

With a growing number of popular franchises under its belt, Ubisoft has continued to entrench itself as one of the industry’s powerhouse publishers, but it’s also one that is never afraid to take risks (in the form of both Uplay+ and its commitment to Google Stadia). That said, 2019 has been a challenging year for Ubisoft, ultimately forcing the company to rethink its future leading into next year.

Ubisoft games released in 2019

  • Anno 1800
  • The Division 2 | Review
  • Far Cry: New Dawn | Review
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint | Review
  • Just Dance 2020
  • Trials Rising | Review

Ubisoft got things off to a good start at the beginning of 2019. Trials Rising saw the return of RedLynx’s zany 2D stunting sim in a game that felt more fleshed out than its predecessors without marring its addictive arcade gameplay. February also saw a new Far Cry game released on major platforms. New Dawn – much like Blood Dragon and Primal – took the latest numbered instalment in the series, splitting off to form a standalone adventure with similar mechanics but with a much wilder, more evocative setting.

If there was one game in Ubisoft’s lineup that seemed like a sure fire winner, it was The Division 2. Despite the original game feeling a little disjointed and more like a prototype for what was to come, it broke industry sales records, becoming the fastest selling new IP (an accolade previously held by Watch Dogs). The Division 2 has proven to be bigger and better, benefitting from Ubisoft’s pivot to a “Year Pass” monetisation model instead of DLC expansions, but hasn’t enjoyed the same staying power as other games in the MMOFPS genre.

Speaking of Tom Clancy games, the announcement of Ghost Recon Breakpoint had many fans excited even if Wildlands had met a decidedly lukewarm reception a couple of years ago. With its focus locked on tactical co-op gameplay, a stronger story, and open world survival, Breakpoint seemed like it would be another hole in one for Ubisoft. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick the landing thanks to a strange clashing of design choices and persistent technical issues across the board.

The response to both Breakpoint and The Division 2 has caused Ubisoft to take stock. Having been at the forefront of the “game as a service” revolution of recent years, the publisher now finds itself spinning too many plates.

Rainbow Six Siege continues to be the perfect posterchild for this movement with For Honor and Assassin’s Creed having also been supported well throughout 2019. However, with so many games turning into online timesinks, there was bound to be a breaking point and perhaps that’s what we’re seeing now, alongside some uninspired and jarring game design choices in the case of Breakpoint.

As a result, Ubisoft has pushed back its entire 2020 slate with the highly anticipated Watch Dogs: Legion due to miss its original March release date. With both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and looming, it will be interesting to see how the publisher adjusts its strategy in time for the new consoles and how games like Rainbow Six Quaratine, Gods & Monster, and Skull & Bones factor in. Of course, 2020 will also bring more news about the next Assassin’s Creed and Beyond Good & Evil 2.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.