During the Q&A portion of Ubisoft's earnings call today, CEO Yves Guillemot touched on Assassin's Creed Unity's disastrous launch by acknowledging it wasn't "perfect." That's one way to put it.
His full explanation, in response to an analyst question about how the company thinks Unity's problems could affect the future of the Assassin's Creed brand (emphasis mine):
Each time there's a new transition of consoles, we try to create engines that take full advantage of the capacity of those consoles. In the case of Unity, we had to redo 100% of the engine. So when you do that, it's painful for all the group...and everything has to be recalibrated. With this game, a few things were not perfect when the game was launched. But the engine has been created, and it's going to help the brands to shine in the future.
Guillemot's statement in response to the Q&A question echoed Ubisoft's entire handling of the Unity controversy during its most recent earnings call—the first time that the company has been put in the hot seat, financially speaking, since it released Unity late last year. The first Assassin's Creed game to be produced exclusively for new-gen consoles and PC, Unity was meant to be a giant leap forward for the company's popular open-world stabbing-through-history simulator. But despite boasting incredible visuals, Unity didn't have much going for it—the game was a buggy, unstable mess at launch. The game has been buggy for many players since launch, and many key fixes took weeks to implement. Ubisoft was still releasing major software updates for Unity more than a month after its release.
Guillemot tried to put a positive spin on Unity's many problems by saying that Ubisoft had learned from its mistakes in transitioning to new technology, and will use this experience to benefit next year's Assassin's Creed game:
Next fiscal year we will launch a new Assassin's Creed game based on the same technology that powered Unity. We are very confident that the experiences learned, along with the customer feedback, will help us take Assassin's Creed to the next level of quality and innovation.
Let's hope that he's right!
At the opening of the earnings call, Guillemot acknowledged that Assassin's Creed performance was "mixed" over the most recent quarter. It's not entirely clear if he meant the game's financial or technical performance. He continued:
At launch, the game suffered from framerate issues and bugs which had a strong resonance among the community. We are blessed to have such passionate and committed fans, and will always strive to earn their trust and support. We took that situation very seriously, and our teams have been working relentlessly since launch and have provided constant and direct progress updates to our fans.
He went on to say that Unity has greatly improved since its November 2014 launch, pointing to a recent IGN article as evidence:
The game's performance has improved significantly, as evidenced by quotes from an IGN journalist who played the game for the first time recently. The first quote: "Unity might be the most beautiful game I've ever played." Another quote: "It's one of my favorite games of 2014."
Ubisoft has indeed released many software updates intended to fix Unity. But bear in mind that the game worked at launch for some players—including Stephen Totilo, who reviewed it for Kotaku. Citing an IGN article that relates a single player's experience doesn't necessarily speak to the overall state of the game, therefore. Guillemot didn't provide specific numbers about how many players ran into performance issues with Unity, or how many continue to face them.