The new Avatar game (blue people, not Airbenders) is officially delayed. Originally set to release this December alongside James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, French developer Ubisoft has announced that they will be pushing Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora back past March 2023 at the latest. This comes shortly after the release of Ubisoft’s first quarter earnings report, which detailed the better-than-expected performance of Assassin’s Creed and Rainbow Six Siege but also hinted at the delay of an additional game. While not announced, most fans assume this delayed game is (working title) “Project Rift,” the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla DLC repurposed as a spin-off stealth game.
In an email to Ubisoft employees this past Thursday, CEO Yves Guillemot states that the company will be pursuing a variety of cost-cutting procedures, as they cut back to “what is essential.” The email states:
In the current economic context, carefully and strategically managing our investments is critical now more than ever. We must therefore succeed in strongly limiting our spending to what is essential… reinventing ourselves together to make gains in terms of cost, agility, and efficiency.
While this email is full of corporate jargon relating to loose concepts like ‘synergy,’ the basic meaning seems to heavily carry the company’s desire to find a new blockbuster franchise. At the moment, Ubisoft is heavily clinging to the success of Assassin’s Creed, with “Project Rift” on the slate next to their planned live-service game Assassin’s Creed Infinity and the code-named “Project Red,” another open-world entry. However, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier supports that Project Red is a part of Infinity, so two total potential Assassin’s Creed games may carry Ubisoft’s future on their shoulders.
Further, as part of the recent delay announcements, several more projects currently in development have been simply canceled, Ubisoft deciding to pour their resources into a small handful of titles. Of those canceled, Guillemot confirmed that Splinter Cell VR and Ghost Recon Frontlines were two of the projects scrapped completely; Frontlines was a battle royale that made it to playtests but needed more work after comparison to CoD: Warzone. This leaves the rest of 2022 balancing on the success of the Mario + Rabbids strategy game and the expensive Skull and Bones; several developers of each have been openly uncertain whether either will be a commercial or critical success. While Ubisoft has its next showcase on September 10, fans are unsure what will be on display, as the company has been losing a series of senior developers over the past months, responses to cuts and budget freezes that indicate an imminent recession for the industry.