The Assassin’s Creed gaming franchise has undoubtedly proved a big money-spinner for the French publisher Ubisoft since the very first Assassin’s Creed arrived in 2007.
That game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, in an era when people were far from accustomed to playing high-intensity games on mobile phones.
The 2020s are very different on this score. In September 2022, Assassin’s Creed Jade was officially unveiled — and described as “the series’ first open-world game for mobile devices”.
Jade is very much entering unchartered territory, then — and therein lies the rub. With Assassin’s Creed Jade, Ubisoft appears to be taking a number of risks that might not quite pay off.
Here is a closer look at several of those dangers — but also suggestions of how Ubisoft could counter them to assist the game in chiming with its core audience.
Make Sure It is Not Overstretching Itself
Assassin’s Creed Jade is set in ancient China and prominently features the Great Wall.
On the same day that Assassin’s Creed Jade was formally announced, two other major, in-development games in the franchise were teased. Codename Red was shown to have a feudal Japan setting, while Codename Hexe seemingly took stylistic cues from European witchcraft.
If that seems like an awful lot of Assassin’s Creed projects for Ubisoft to busy itself with, you might not be too far off the mark to think ‘awful’.
Remember how, after the success of the first two Assassin’s Creed games, Ubisoft decided to release a new one annually? This strategy resulted in the poorly received titles Assassin’s Creed 3 and Assassin’s Creed Unity, both of which harmed the series’ good name.
In a Den of Geek article, Aaron Greenbaum has asked whether Ubisoft will “figure out how to make the most of every upcoming release” or instead ultimately need to retool the franchise again.
Respect Chinese History and Culture
The events of Jade take place in China’s first multiethnic feudal state. “This is a very exciting part of China’s history,” executive producer Andrei Chan of Level Infinite — the game’s publisher — has enthused, adding: “This is the establishment of essentially the first empire of China.”
However, seamlessly fusing elements of third-century Chinese history into Jade has evidently been easier said than done.
At the time of writing, Jade has been made available only in closed beta form. With the game’s first closed beta having been criticised by testers for having overly American dialogue, this has since been rejigged with the additions of further Chinese influences.
Jade’s commitment to respecting Chinese heritage could potentially extend as far as a marketing campaign aimed specifically at people with a keen interest in third-century Chinese history.
Many game developers — both large and small — can already partner with companies like SuperScale to prepare and enact a mobile game user acquisition strategy geared towards reaching out to specific, targeted audiences.
Learn Lessons From Previous Assassin’s Creed Mobile Games
While Jade is very much a Ubisoft game, it is being developed by what GLHF writer Georgina Young has described as a “secret studio”.
It is perhaps concerning that, during the course of a talk with this developer, Young found them mistakenly calling Jade “the first fully canon handheld Assassin’s Creed game” — and admitting to never having played Liberation on the PlayStation Vita.
Young observes that “there are nine other Assassin’s Creed phone games, and while most are spin-offs of some sort, two of them could be counted as canon.”
The writer says that “we were concerned about the lack of knowledge concerning these previous entities” — especially considering that, for example, Liberation “was a mess technically”.
Given that Jade is a mobile-only game, it might not surprise everyone that beta versions of it have so far omitted support for controllers.
After testing the game, Eurogamer editor-in-chief Tom Phillips has commented on how the familiar feel of moving an Assassin’s Creed playable protagonist has been successfully replicated in Jade, even with its touch controls.
This did not stop him remarking that he “still would have preferred a controller”. He hasn’t been the only person to comment negatively on Jade’s lack of controller support, either.
YouTuber @LeoKRogue has strongly advocated adding this compatibility for several reasons — including that it already features on other, similar mobile games and, by Chen’s own admission, would be easy to throw in.
With Jade currently not expected to get a full release until some point in 2024, there remains ample time for various favourable tweaks to be made to this upcoming Assassin’s Creed instalment.