"We have an idea of where the end is, what the end is," says Ubisoft's Ashraf Ismail, game director on "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag."
There have been annual entries to the historically-minded conspiracy series "Assassin's Creed" since its launch in 2007, and in earnest since 2009 with the arrival of "Assassin's Creed II."
But each iteration now fits inside an overall narrative arc, Ismail told Eurogamer, and rather than assume the brand is closing down, it's given the franchise oversight team greater flexibility.
"Depending on the setting, depending on what fans want, we've given ourselves room to fit more in this arc."
"In 'Assassin's Creed 4' we have Edward, who we seeded in 'Assassin's Creed III'. But there's a lot more stuff in our game that is hinting at other possibilities," he said, encouraging players to scour each game for clues.
And if players react favorably to a new character or new situation -- as they did with the naval episodes in "Assassin's Creed III" -- then the series' Ubisoft studios are in position to capitalize on it, hence the prominence of naval warfare in "AC4."
Ubisoft's own "Watch Dogs," to debut later this year after "Assassin's Creed IV," is rooted in the modern day but shares many of the same themes -- conspiracy theories, shadowy organizations, and an athletic lone outsider, skilled in free-running, whose advanced technology gives him an edge over fellow citizens and enemy forces.
So should interest in "Assassin's Creed" wane, Ubisoft and its Montreal studio have a ready-made replacement waiting to take off.