Image Source: 20th Century Studios, via YouTube
Way back in 2017, Ubisoft announced that it was working on a new game based on the Avatar universe created by James Cameron’s 2009 movie.
Helmed by the Ubisoft-owned Massive Entertainment, people feared that ‘The Avatar Project’ had been scrapped due to the Swedish-based developer having been entrenched in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and its updates since the initial announcement.
Now, a producer at Massive Entertainment has been able to give the hopeful fans a little bit of information concerning ‘The Avatar Project.’
The new Avatar game is coming
At an event for the upcoming The Division 2: Warlords of New York, entertainment news outlet Screen Rant was able to get a slither of information from a Ubisoft Massive producer concerning ‘The Avatar Project.’
Jesper Karabanov, a producer for the game developers, said: “Yes [the game is still in development], but I can’t speak about it.”
Since 2017, the studio has made it clear that the new Avatar game and The Division sequel were being worked on by two different teams. As relayed by PC Gamer, Ubisoft stated:
“Avatar’s development has no impact on the team working on The Division or on our plans to continually support and update the game and brand for the long term.”
That was in 2017, though, and a lot has changed for the IP over the last few years.
Pandora belongs to Disney now
In March 2019, Disney took ownership of the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets via a gargantuan $71.3 billion merger. The deal delivered to Disney properties such as the Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Simpsons, the Alien movies, and, of course, Avatar.
Initially, Disney announced that its new cinematic release schedule post-merger would see the long-awaited Avatar II movie hit theatres in December 2020, but that has since been pushed back to December 2021, with a further three films following up every two years.
As Avatar broke box office records on its release and re-run in 2009 and 2010, pulling in $2.7 billion worldwide, it makes sense that Disney would be eager to re-launch the universe.
Disney has famously said in the past that they have struggled on the development side of video games but are good at licensing – which is why Electronic Arts has been the exclusive creator of Star Wars games since 2013.
So the big Disney-Fox merger wasn’t ever likely to impact the work of Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment on a new Avatar game. In fact, according to Bloomberg, Disney intends to sell the inherited video game business FoxNext, which has been creating another Avatar game, Avatar: Pandora Rising, for Apple and Android devices – further removing themselves from game creations.
While Disney rarely interferes on the video game front, they may have been in contact with Ubisoft Massive to try to align the release of their upcoming game with the cinematic sequel. It’d be a smart move, with the two promoting each other and giving a dose of nostalgia to the times when movies would always come with a video game release – as the original Avatar movie once did.
The original Avatar movie’s original Avatar video game
Released in 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game launched on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and had a Nintendo DS version.
It received middling reviews from critics, but the Ubisoft Montreal release worked well as a way of immersing players in the fascinating world of Pandora which dominated the box office for months.
The game features actors from the movie, such as Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang, and works as a prequel to the events of the Avatar movie.
Avatar: The Game was ambitious, filled with action and exploration, was wonderfully colourful and featured all of the unique aspects of Pandora that made the movie so memorable – including the mighty creatures.
Given the state of the dying film-to-game genre at the time, the Avatar video game of 2009 was rather good.
Ubisoft’s new Avatar game release date
If anyone were to guess on the potential release window of ‘The Avatar Project’ game from Ubisoft Massive, most would point to the autumn of 2021 (just before the movie), or early in 2022 at the back-end of Avatar II’s theatrical run.
It’d act as a great way to reintroduce fans of the old movie to the universe while also working as a gateway for audiences who weren’t old enough to see the original at cinemas or haven’t seen it since.
In any case, all we know for now is that the Ubisoft-owned studio Massive Entertainment is still hard at work to bring Pandora and the Avatar universe to modern gaming.