Assassin’s Creed 3 dev: ‘big triple-a games are dying out’

Wednesday, 5th September 2012 12:41 GMT By Dave Cook

Assassin’s Creed 3 is “the last of the dinosaurs”, according to creative director Alex Hutchinson. The developer suggests that games of AC3′s size – that require teams in their hundreds – are becoming a thing of the past.

Speaking with Edge, Hutchison stated, “We’re the last of the dinosaurs. We’re still the monster triple-A game with very large teams [and] multiple studios helping out on different bits. There are fewer and fewer of these games being made, especially as the middle has fallen out.”

“We really felt like this was a rare opportunity, “Hutchison added, “We had an experienced team, who had worked on the franchise for a while; we had the full backing of Ubisoft to make something huge.”

“We had almost three years to do it,” Hutchison continued, “which is a rarity these days; the tech and the hardware platforms were both mature, which allowed us to start running instead of building base features; and the installed user base for all platforms is massive.”

“Many of these factors are about to change, by choice of circumstance,” Hutchinson added, “so a lot of us truly believed this was a once in a career opportunity,” Hutchison concluded.

Thanks CVG.



  1. ArithonUK

    Dying out? Like the DODO maybe – hunted to extinction.

    Poor quality (zero day bug fixes, followed by a stream of patches), absurd and unusable DRM (always on DRM, and just as bad, at-start DRM only work if UBI’s site is up, what happens when it {often} isn’t?) and releasing half the game (at full price) followed by the rest of the game as DLC at almost full price. These things are killing gaming.

    Want to sell games? Sensible or no DRM, mod-support, LAN support, quality control, forget DLC – go back to expansion packs 12-18 months after release. Keep prices sub £30. We don’t need Hollywood A-list stars to voice games. Use the janitor and save the cash. You don’t need to run film-style live-action trailers in cinemas. Again save the cash, pass on the saving. Gaming website reviews are all the advertising you will ever need.

    Piracy is only a problem (i.e. significant volume) when a game isn’t seen to be worth buying. No perceived value means there’s no perceived wrongdoing. If you treat PC gamers like idiots and thieves, they are not going to lose any sleep over living up to the label.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. TheBlackHole

    As soon as the next gen comes along they will be commonplace again. True, no-one is willing to build these types of games as we come to the tail end of a generation, but they aren’t dying out. Not by a long shot.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SlayerGT

    @1 What happens if the next Assassins Creed for next Gen cost 3 times as much to produce..and only the same if not slightly less amount of people buy it? Something will give.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DarkElfa

    What we need are a bunch of smaller studios, allowed to work more freely for a longer amount of time on something they’re passionate about.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. xxJPRACERxx

    The industry won’t survive without AAA games. Sure smaller games are nice too but more like fillers between the major ones.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. DrDamn

    This is just adjustment. Costs for AAA games are going to go up, not triple, but they’ll go up. We’ll get fewer and more smaller games where more risks can be taken. It’s a good thing.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. absolutezero

    Maybe it’ll make the giant dinosaur blockbusters up their game aswell.


    #7 2 years ago
  8. DSB

    Ultimately it’s up to the industry to balance the cost of production. The movie industry certainly hasn’t gotten cheaper over the last 20 years, but somehow you can still get a 10-20 dollar DVD or movie ticket.

    I’m guessing that’s because they’ve put a lot of time and effort into making the backend production more efficient. One artist and a Mac today can do more than twenty artists in a drawing studio 30 years ago.

    Adapt or perish. Come up with a solution. Are you a CANadian or a CAN’Tnadian?

    #8 2 years ago
  9. TheBlackHole


    You could say the same for movies – they have many times the budget of triple-A games and often make less money. Hasn’t stopped blockbuster movies being funded, has it?

    #9 2 years ago
  10. rotsae

    AAA game is just a fancy way to say rehash of a rehash of a game that was once successful. What we need is innovation, not more COD, Assassin Creed, or Street Fighter. People want something new. Sure they can make a sequel to those games, but how about every 4-5 year, not every single year FFS. What these big studio have are very expensive IP and instead of creating new IP, they decide to milk the existing one to death. And now they are crying out about why not as many people buy their games any more.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Maximum Payne

    @2 There won’t be dramatically increase in cost of development.
    Unless next gen consoles are more harder to develop then ps3, that won’t be an issue.
    Problem for this gen was very huge leep in hardware from single core cpu @ 300mhz to 6 ”cores” cpu.
    So lot of stuff developers will already know how to take advantage of like more ram,better graphic card…

    #11 2 years ago
  12. DSB

    @9 Wishful thinking. The big triple-A franchises are pretty much driving the industry. What’s bringing the average down is largely the copies of those triple-A franchises.

    Darksiders sold half of the last Zelda, Homefront sold a tenth of the last CoD, Resistance sold a fraction of the last Halo, and I’d imagine that Space Marine sold less than a fifth of the last Gears of War.

    The problem isn’t the big franchises, the problem is all the wannabes. Instead of trying to beat them on variety where they actually have a chance, the smaller publishers desperately scramble for one of their own.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Gheritt White

    @ 10: There definitely WILL be an increase in the cost of development. Higher quality art assets simply cost more to produce. Equally, the existing consoles will overlap with the next gen for *at least* two whole years, so in essence you’re gaining two platforms, not replacing two.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Gheritt White

    @11: I agree. What we need is a refined sequel to Mirror’s Edge, perhaps spliced with a bit of Portal – that could be the start of a whole new genre in first-person gaming, IMHO (a la Quantum Conundrum).

    #14 2 years ago
  15. SlayerGT

    I would argue the movie business is a bit more broad reaching the the games industry. Its true more people are playing games then ever. And believe me I don’t want “anything to give” either. But it’s already happening. I hope that remaining devs and pubs can become more efficient. As much as I like the idea of different architecture in the console space, because it produces different looking games, I hope the “similarly built” next Gen consoles with help keep the cost increase to a minimum. And also bring with them tools to make making games easier.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dragon246

    I like dinosaurs.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    @13 I may well be an optimist on this, but I think all it would take is one dedicated, hands-on, artisan publisher, where the execs dare to make games the main focus, instead of spending most of their time on “monetizing”, “emerging markets” and “services”.

    2K are maybe halfway over in that rut, but they’re not really there.

    The first publisher to go for a slate of creatively driven releases, who throws away the focus groups in favor of their creatives, and which doesn’t put a lot of energy into making their games fit the feature checklist of the last forgettable triple-A, is gonna see a lot of money come in.

    A succes like that is all you need to tip the scales and make everybody else pay attention. Sadly those kinds of games are only made in spite of the industry itself right now.

    It’s not likely to happen any time soon. Nobody’s going to invest in an industry that’s burning out, but it does seem like gamer apathy is finally starting to affect the bottom line, so maybe the industry will weaken itself to the point where the entrepreneurial investors see a challenge in trying to turn it around.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. stealth

    AAA games are only budget related, if they mean budgets are getting smaller sure

    #18 2 years ago
  19. TheWulf


    Eh. I disagree completely. Some of my all time favourite games have been developed by smaller teams. To the Moon was created by a one-man team, and I would pay for more like that much sooner than I would for any triple-A game. (And I recently saw on here that the next episode to that is coming along. Hooray!)

    Another example of a small team doing better than what triple-A developers do is Bastion. Bastion was the game of that year for quite a lot of people, and there were only seven people working on that title throughout its history, from beginning to end.

    I could go on to mention titles like Trine 2 and Magicka, which were also made by relatively small developers. Both of those are truly fun co-op experiences (for very different reasons). Or how about games like Terraria or Minecraft? Those have been mostly developed by teams of one or two. It’s only Jeb working on Minecraft right now, for example. And some people have played Minecraft more than they’ve ever played anything else.

    Not your flavour? Well, how about Torchlight II, the feisty upstart made by another small dev house (Runic Games) which seems to be the house favourite versus the triple-A Diablo III.

    I could namedrop other things that I’ve loved from over the years, too. Like Nimbus, VVVVVV, Gemini Rue, and so on.

    And you honestly want to tell me that all of these games (none of which are triple-A) are filler?

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Da Man

    Rather, massive teams releasing glitchy trainwrecks are.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. xxJPRACERxx

    @18 Those games you’ve mentioned are nice, but I’ll take an Uncharted or a GTA game over them anytime. And yes, for me, those small games are fillers.

    #21 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.