Ubisoft’s big day of delays, cancellations: Avatar open-world game moves to FY24

Ubisoft’s big day of delays, cancellations: Avatar open-world game moves to FY24

Enlarge / Ubisoft insists that its first video game based on the film series Avatar is still on the way—but will now miss its original “2022” launch window.

Ubisoft

Fans of gaming mega-publisher Ubisoft may have held out hope that an upcoming presentation, slated to stream online in September, might contain a few surprises or confirmations for more big games coming in 2022. The company’s latest financial disclosure presentation popped that balloon, however, in a massive way.

A Thursday disclosure to investors was paired with an audio presentation hosted by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, and its first nine minutes contained mostly doom and gloom. After confirming previously announced plans to launch a Mario + Rabbids sequel and the long-delayed Skull & Bones pirate-battling game, Guillemot confirmed two lengthy game delays and four game cancellations—while remaining mum about at least two games in apparent development limbo.

More like “The Way of the Wait”

The arguably biggest news concerns a delay to Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, an open-world adventure game based on James Cameron’s Avatar film series. The game is now slated to launch in Ubisoft’s “fiscal year 24,” which could mean any time between April 2023 and March 2024. That’s a substantial bump from its original “2022” launch window—which could have put it near the December 16 launch of that film series’ first sequel in 13 years, Avatar: The Way of the Water.

We could see a firmer launch date for that game during the aforementioned September video presentation, or at the very least, anything that resembles actual gameplay; thus far, the only hint of the Avatar game’s existence is an “in-engine” reveal that may not actually resemble how the game will look in real time. Still, the game appears to target current-gen consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, which could mean the game will take substantial technological leaps not available on past-gen console families.

Guillemot took the opportunity to confirm that A:FoP presents a “major, multi-year opportunity for Ubisoft,” suggesting that it could come with online game-as-a-service hooks or “expansion pack” add-ons to keep players engaged over time, much like how Ubisoft has done with pretty much every open-world game it has launched over the past eight years.

A VR game that will now only be virtual, never real

In addition, Guillemot confirmed that a “smaller, unannounced, premium game” has been bumped from Ubisoft’s FY23 to its FY24. Without further clarification on what this project might be, we must look to reporters like Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, who has previously suggested that the game in question is a standalone Assassin’s Creed expansion pack. This game, referred to as “Project Rift,” reportedly began life as an add-on for 2020’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla before being converted to a larger stopgap release. According to the same reports, this was done to tide fans over while another unannounced Assassin’s Creed project, meant to function as an ever-evolving, online-connected hub of Assassin’s Creed environments and timelines, was still under development.

Following the news of two game delays, Guillemot confirmed four game cancellations in all, including two previously announced titles: Ghost Recon Frontline, a battle royale concept that had already gone into early playtesting; and Splinter Cell VR, a new, Meta Quest-exclusive entry in the longtime stealth-action series. The latter had been announced during an Oculus event in 2020, at which time something called Assassin’s Creed VR was also announced (and not to be confused with the series’ “escape room” VR installations). A Reddit post from earlier this year included a video mock-up of a potential new VR game called Assassin’s Creed Nexus, and its author suggested that the resulting game will offer a more linear translation of the AC series formula to VR—though its authenticity is far from confirmed.

The bloodletting continued during the call with news of “two other unannounced titles” being summarily canceled. Since ACVR has previously been announced, it arguably remains on Ubisoft’s development docket, though the company had no further details about that game today. Either way, ACVR was not directly referenced during today’s presentation, and the same goes for two of Ubisoft’s most elusive in-development games: Beyond Good & Evil 2, which was announced to massive fanfare at E3 2017, and Prince of Persia Remake, which was announced in 2020, only to be delayed multiple times.

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