Ubisoft open world mechanics have become something of a running joke on gaming-focused message boards like Neogaf, Reddit and several others. In fact, a while back a few websites even wrote essays highlighting how the same mechanics were repeated in pretty much the same way over multiple Ubisoft open world games - here's an example.
Although the publisher is now trying to diversify gameplay between its various titles, there was a time when Watch_Dogs, Far Cry, Assassin's Creed, and even The Crew and The Division to a lesser extent, shared so many trappings. Having to climb towers to unlock certain portions of the map was possibly the most obvious one.
In an interview published on the latest EDGE magazine (issue #311), CEO Yves Guillemot replied on this topic that other highly acclaimed titles released this year feature several of the same mechanics usually found in Ubisoft open world titles, albeit refined.
It's interesting, because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took a lot of things that existed in Far Cry and other Ubisoft games, but did them perfectly. I think the most important thing is not the systems as they are, it's how they can be perfected; how they can give the player the best experience possible.
The same system can be in two games, and not be seen as the same thing. The job, really, is to make sure that you have a certain number of possibilities and that you are able to combine them in such a way that provides a great experience. When systems are similar, it's because developers have not been able to take full advantage of what those systems could bring.
When a system is really good at providing fun, the team knows that that will work - and at the end of the day what counts is the experience. But we are taking more and more time on our games so that they are very different from one another. That has always been the objective. But if you look at many of the games that are being launched - even the last Sony game, Horizon: Zero Dawn - again, they took some of the same systems that we have. Because, in the industry, we always look at other games and other publishers. A game is very complex, so it helps us to provide a good experience.
Guillemot also explained why Ubisoft is focusing more and more on multiplayer games.
It's the kind of game that is more and more in demand from players. As a company, we have to adapt to this evolution in demand. So it's a question of generation: some people have been playing linear adventures, and they tend to want to continue to play that kind of game, even if they're starting to open to other types of games.
For each revolution or disruption, there are steps where you are in the middle and the new thing is not yet very interesting. The first people that try the game might say 'It's good, but it's not as good as I expected' and sometimes they don't want to try it again.
But after a while you improve the quality of this new experience, and you arrive at a level where the new people who try it love it. It always takes time to change mentalities. For us, we had no choice but to introduce the types of product that most of the customers, most of the players, wanted.
That said, Ubisoft continues to develop single-player only games like South Park: The Fractured but Whole (due on October 17th) and Assassin's Creed Origins (due on October 27th), not to mention single-player games that can also be played co-operatively such as the recent Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and the upcoming Far Cry 5 (due on February 27th, 2018).