During an interview with CVG, Assassin’s Creed creative director Alex Hutchinson was posed a simple question. When the topic of keeping such a franchise fresh and exciting year after year, Mr. Hutchinson was asked how Nintendo could sustain the likes of Zelda and Mario with every iteration. His response?
You want my real answer? I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.
Hutchinson immediately goes on to claim that many Japanese games are released with stories that are “literally rubbish” and that “There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant’.” He continues, wondering how the gaming press can so easily criticize the story in Gears of War, and that he himself would rather play it over something like Bayonetta.
Hutchinson concludes that a game should be judged primarily on whether the story is good or not.
I’m no industry insider. I don’t follow the Twitter or Facebook of anyone from any facet of the business. I don’t pretend to know or understand the minds of other gaming journalists or even the men and women behind the games themselves. What I do know, however, is what I can see as clear as day in front of me. In the last 10 years, the Japanese gaming industry has received more criticism and been the center of more controversy than it ever has within any other generation.
The Assassin’s Creed series itself has seen no shortage of criticism with regards to story. Though Ezio’s saga was largely considered the high-point of the franchise thus far, many felt that his three-game spanning adventure outstayed its welcome just a hair. From a man who values story above all, Mr. Hutchinson should understand the importance of pacing and restraint. The plight of Desmond, the series’ main antagonist who genetically links all of the playable characters together, is far less interesting than those of his ancestors, and far more convoluted. Whatever road the Assassin’s Creed series is going down, Mr. Hutchinson and the team at Ubisoft Montreal better be aware of the massive pitfall they could very well be digging themselves into.