There is a brilliance to Assassin's Creed Brotherhood that has taken the video games industry by surprise.According to VG Chartz, the second installment sold around 2 million copies during the first week of sales. In comparison, Brotherhood has sold over a million in under a week in Europe, making it the fastest selling Ubisoft game to date.
What's even more remarkable is the marketing and public relations efforts to make a mountain out of a molehill. In June of 2010, games journalists had their first taste of Brotherhood's multiplayer during E3. The emphasis by Ubisoft was clearly showcasing the title's modes, not the single player experience.
A series infamous for repetitive missions, easy difficulty, and bad story was given a second chance by the press. Podcast after podcast discussed the brief intensity of the multiplayer, forgetting almost completely about the single player experience. A few mentioned that the story was a continuation of the second installment, but the brilliant minds at Ubisoft had their PR plan in motion.
Before it's North American release date on November 16th, Ubisoft released a trickle of screen shots and trailers to journalists. In May a GameStop employee posted pictures of the preorder box of Brotherhood online. The gears at Ubisoft turned, and the company's twitter and facebook accounts confirmed the title. This added public awareness to fuel desire for coverage by games journalists.
After release, the majority of reviews were very favorable. On Metacritic, the game scored an 89 and 90 to the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. Gamerankings delivered both above 90 percent.. One trait was common amongst these reviews: the impressive single player experience.
This trend can likely be explained by the positioning of the product by Ubisoft. By placing emphasis on the multiplayer experience and unique properties, players and journalists alike both appreciate the experience almost like a bonus. The single player portion of the game is about as lengthy as Assassin's Creed 2, yet carries much of the same issues afflicting the series.
Companies would be wise to take note of Ubisoft's practices. In 2009 the multiplayer focus was announced during Ubisoft's fiscal third quarter. This likely was to keep shareholders feeling more secure, which turned out to be a brilliant decision. The series is recognized by both enthusiasts and casual gamers alike, and continues to sell well.
With production manager Jean-Francois Boivin taking a break from the series development, fans are divided if the next installment will achieve it's predecessor's gold status. However, the absurdity of the story will likely give Ubisoft many profitable scenarios for players wishing to enter the Animus for years to come.