When you rewind the sands of time back to 2010, the swashbuckling Prince of Persia series was still in full swing. Since its 1989 debut, Jordan Mechner‘s brainchild has brought upon the gaming industry a lasting impact which most notably manifested in the Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed franchises. But the worlds of Persia, Italy, France and Egypt are still different. Instead of an Animus, our prince deals with magical daggers, combat mechanics override stealth, and there are no haystacks in sight.
So in 2017, why has the popularity of one of the most influential action adventure games waned? Falcon dissects the reasons.
Almost five years ago, Ubisoft said the PoP franchise would be put on hold until the right time. “All our franchises are always in gestation…They’re cooking. Some are cooking longer than others, but they’re cooking” were the precise words of Ubisoft Europe’s Alain Corre.
However, cooking something for too long leads to an inevitable conclusion: it will get burnt.
Prince of Persia: Assassins
Believe it or not, the first title in the Assassin’s Creed chain was intended to be a Prince of Persia game. Instead of thwarting Jaffar’s minions, the player would become the Prince’s guardian.
The Warrior Within Sales Plateau
Compared to the massively successful The Sands of Time, 2004’s Warrior Within only managed to cough up 800,000 copies—a grave diagnosis for the future of the series. Fortunately, The Two Thrones and 2008 entry Prince of Persia turned things around, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Assassin’s Creed Outshines the PoP Rebirth
To Ubisoft’s surprise, the story of Desmond Miles resonated with gamers so strongly it translated into astronomically high sales figures. Stagnating at around 2.2 copies million, the reimagined 3D Prince of Persia couldn’t keep up with the behemoth that was Assassin’s Creed, which reached 10 million.
Ubisoft Devotes its Energy to Assassin’s Creed
Seeing the success of the original Assassin’s Creed game, good old Ubi started pumping out new AC titles every year. As a whole, the franchise has surpassed 100,000,000 copies in units sold. The Prince of Persia profits simply weren’t in the same league.
So what does all this mean for Prince of Persia fans? Is the series dead? Call me overly optimistic, but I think a good franchise can never really die. Whether there is in fact a new game in development is still unknown, however, if Ubisoft plans to revive Prince of Persia, it’s going to need fresh ingredients and a new oven—only then can it be baked to perfection. Besides, I’ve missed seeing that evil vizier on my screen.