Bigger in 2020: Watch Dogs or Assassin’s Creed?

Six years from now, which will be Ubisoft's flagship franchise? Will AC remain at the top, or is Watch Dogs the usurper?
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Right now, it’s a ridiculous question.

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Assassin’s Creed sells like mad; it’s currently Ubisoft’s most popular and most successful franchise. This year’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity is almost guaranteed to sell more copies than Watch Dogs, despite all the positive hype for the latter title. New IPs simply can’t stand up to established franchises in terms of initial sales.

That being said, all franchises go on the wane eventually. At the very least, they fluctuate and new IPs rise to become dominating franchises. Considering what Ubisoft has planned for Watch Dogs, it’s a perfectly legitimate question:

Come 2020, which name will be bigger in the world of video games? Will AC retain its immense popularity and will Watch Dogs flounder? Or will the newer series take over the top spot?

Assassin’s Creed has one thing going for it: An endless potential playground

As the developers can choose any era they like, and as they have the talent to faithfully and realistically create the era, Assassin’s Creed has the edge. You can’t really put Watch Dogs in any time period; it’s about the future and really, all you can do is go further into the future. AC can bounce around; it can go all over the place. We’ve checked out Constantinople in the Middle Ages, Italy during the Renaissance, America during the Revolutionary War, and the Caribbean during the golden age of piracy.

But just imagine how many other opportunities there are. It’s almost literally endless. It was an ingenious idea for a series, too: Have the main character “travel” to any time period where he has an ancestor, and live in that era for the vast majority of the game. You can choose any location, any time period, any time of historical significance. For example, this year, it’s Paris and the French Revolution. How cool is that?

Strictly from a creative and atmospheric standpoint, I think Assassin’s Creed has better longevity.

More gameplay possibilities with Watch Dogs in the future…?

Then again, many have complained about the enduring gameplay mechanics in Assassin’s Creed; some say they haven’t been refined enough, while others say they simply haven’t changed enough. Of course, there’s really only so much you can do with a regular man who has some mild otherworldly powers (Eagle Vision, for instance). You can give him all sorts of different weapons and you can continue to refine the combat, but perhaps there’s more potential for innovation in the futuristic world of Watch Dogs.

Hacking might actually become a dominant gameplay mechanic, especially when it’s mixed with an open-world that you can directly impact. In AC, you never really have a direct impact on your surroundings; in fact, you don’t really have any impact at all. We’re seeing a lot of environmental interaction in Watch Dogs and that could resonate throughout the series. Think of the possibilities when it comes to a world driven by electronics…

Which isn’t to say they can’t expand on the gameplay in Assassin’s Creed. Just making an observation.

In reality, BOTH franchises could be gigantic

And if this happens, Ubisoft is well positioned to become potentially the biggest publisher in gaming. Call of Duty has something to prove this generation, I think, and the Activision vs. Electronic Arts battle now has a third competitor in Ubisoft. That’s more true if Watch Dogs hits big and right now, all indications are that it will. Going down the road, we might see years where a new Assassin’s Creed and a new Watch Dogs launch, and both are epic and amazing. At that point, which one is bigger is almost irrelevant.

It’ll be very interesting to see what happens, at any rate.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.