Releasing games at the start of a new console generation is a big risk. Although the first wave will not struggle to get noticed due to the lack of titles, the user base is too small to even bother with releasing a game on it in the first place.
Ubisoft are set to release the latest Assassin’s Creed on both current and next gen consoles, why bother? Getting a next gen game on next gen consoles early in their lives can have huge benefits if done right. Look at some of the best-selling gaming franchises out– Bioshock, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Assassins Creed – all released around a year of the PS3 launch or 2 years of the 360 launch. These franchises also gained more sales with every sequel (a publisher’s dream) and this is mainly due to establishing itself early on in the gen.
You can’t just put a game on the market early and expect gamers to buy it because it’s the only game to buy, there has to be something else such as the X-Factor… This has nothing to do with Simon Cowell. Adding the X-Factor to a game isn’t easy but the 5 games above all had something ranging from the fresh online multiplayer that Call of Duty had to the “never seen before on console” visuals of Gears of War. If the developers get it right, the franchise could snowball into a huge success. Can you name any franchises off the top of your head that went absolutely massive in the last 3 or 4 years? This indicates that franchises have to capture the early adopters to become a huge success.
Assassins Creed will be already massive when we enter the next generation of gaming but Ubisoft are not taking any chances and allowing another franchise to take its place. What’s great about this is that PS4 (and probably Xbox 3) will have a PC style architecture that will allow porting it over with minimum fuss and cost. When you put things into perspective, this is an absolutely no-brainer with little risk, to make your games for current gen and next gen.
For Assassin’s Creed it’s about keeping the franchise alive but for developers making a new franchise, this could be the right time to release your new franchise come the dawn on the shining new gaming generation that’s on the horizon. You’ll have millions of the current gen consoles to support while taking a shot at creating that “Snow ball effect” on the PS4 and Xbox 3.