Ubisoft, one of the most prolific third-party video game companies from around the globe have created a repertoire of fantastic titles and even more amazing franchises over the years. From the Far Cry series, titles that are inspired by the Tom Clancy name, to Assassin’s Creed, these games have built the framework for the French developer as one of the industry’s best, but having said all of that, it does seem a certainly lovable mascot has been left in the dark and nowhere to be seen. Today, we take a look as to where is Rayman and why it is so important for the oddball character to be part of Ubisoft’s success.
The Rayman series debuted way back in 1995 with the title of the same name on the Atari Jaguar and made its way onto a variety of different consoles between that time to modest sales and reviews by both fans and critics. Over time, new entries to the zany platformer would make its way which over time, created a big enough audience and fan base. Many titles since then have also garnered high review scores which placed the series in a terrific spot for Ubisoft to try to experiment with their mascot with spin-off titles and even television shows over here in North America and France.
Now, why would a series that garners terrific reviews from critics and is beloved by many still have a struggle in finding its rhythm to this day? Well take a look at the last entries of the series, even the sales do not justify it being out of the spotlight as both Rayman: Origins and Legends sold an approximate 3 million and 3.5 million respectively, which isn’t a massive system seller, but can be considered adequate for the pair of platformers. Comparing other recent releases such as For Honor and Steep and a few others did not garner such interest, but it can be argued that the reprints and the multitude of consoles offered Rayman a much more diverse market and potential.
So we’ve looked at the games market, sales, and scores and all of it seems to match for a surefire series seller, but even so, Ubisoft hasn’t pushed the series all too much in recent years, which begs the question, why are they letting Rayman be out of the spotlight. Well, Ubisoft is in a tight situation at the moment in trying to compete with other larger third-party publishers such as EA, Square Enix, and even the revitalized THQ Nordic, but most importantly, are facing an aggressive takeover from Vivendi who is looking to purchase the French publisher. There has been a lot of pushback from this situation were Ubisoft is trying to recollect their own shares from Vivendi, but still looms as a constant threat until it is officially out-of-the-way.
This may be why Ubisoft has been pushing out bigger named titles as well as some standalone games to try to garner the interest of players to revisit what the company has to offer. The success of Assassin’s Creed: Origin, as well as the hype for both upcoming releases with Far Cry 5 and Skull & Bones, will surely help in this situation, but without more details of the Vivendi takeover as of right now. It is only speculation as to where Ubisoft sits, but it is safe to assume that this has caused the French developer to refocus on certain titles, which may mean some series such as Rayman to take a back seat for now.
This pressure as well as trying to produce and release hit titles for an ever-growing market and to a more mainstream media has had repercussions throughout the industry. Past stars and companies have all had their struggles in trying to find what best suits the needs of gamers all while trying to keep production value as minimal as possible. This may not seem as an issue for the Rayman franchise as it is a cartoony 2D platformer, but putting it aside to use those resources to create the next big title will have its consequences, especially if the demand isn’t there for what the series has to offer.
Another factor impacting a release of another Rayman title has to be the rise of Indie developers who have mastered the craft of re-creating 2D platformers that offer both nostalgia and a lesser price point for consumers. Just looking over at one of the Indies greatest titles in Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight proved that even with a smaller budget and even smaller team, anybody can now create a fantastic experience all while having the support of the fanbase to help make the title a success. It is a great thing to have Indie developers, but it has also proven a shift and new competition for larger companies that have proven difficult to match.
Compile all of these factors together and you’d assume that most of our beloved retro icons would waste away for a new age of video game heroes to emerge, but there is still much hope for the Ubisoft mascot to make a strong return and be a present figure in today’s market. The return of some older heroes such as Sonic with Sonic Mania and the upcoming Mega Man 11 shows that players are still willing to go back and play more retro titles if it means in having the same style of gameplay that people remembered them for. While the last Rayman game isn’t all too old in comparison to these other past gaming mascots, there may be a place for Ubisoft’s platformer to shine once again in a modern gaming era.
The best of it all is that Ubisoft wouldn’t even need to change the formula to bring back Rayman as both Rayman: Origins and Legends were both excellent in their own rights. A new title could just build off the foundation of these great games, all while being marketed as a more retro experience to be able to garner the interest of players. Looking at the current systems and how they all have found their strides, especially with the PS4 being as dominant as it can be as well as the Nintendo Switch conveying its concept to gamers, Rayman could and should be a welcomed addition to the current generation of gamers.
All of this to say that while the Rayman franchise may have taken a back seat and seems to be forgotten by some, many fans are still eagerly awaiting for the series’ return with a new modern-day release. The oddball hero set a standard of excellence over the years, and it would be a shame not to see it continue on and be part of Ubisoft’s plan moving forward. That said, the company has had its hurdles to try to be competitive in a very stingy market, but the French developers shouldn’t forget their roots on their past mascot and re-introduce the Rayman franchise to gamers once more.