The Splinter Cell Situation: Why Doesn't Ubisoft Like Sam Fisher Anymore?

The Splinter Cell Situation: Why Doesn't Ubisoft Like Sam Fisher Anymore?

Richard Walker

As of 13th November 2013, Ubisoft confirmed that Splinter Cell Blacklist had sold two million copies worldwide. It was seen by the publisher as a game that fell short of expectations, at least as far as sales figures were concerned, and this, in a nutshell, is perhaps why, eight years on, we've seen neither hide nor hair of a new outing. And worse still, you can't help but feel that there's little future hope for Splinter Cell's long-awaited return, despite Fisher appearing in cameo roles in other Tom Clancy titles, like Ghost Recon Wildlands, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and Rainbow Six Siege. It’s getting a bit silly now, isn’t it?

It's almost like Ubisoft acknowledges that people like Sam Fisher, that they want to see more of the character, but it's not willing to commit to a new game; at least not yet. Numerous glimpses of Fisher in his iconic three-light NV goggles feel like trolling at this point, however – Ubisoft will be acutely aware that fans would give their eye teeth for a new instalment of Splinter Cell, especially given the big stealthy hole left by the absence of a proper Metal Gear game in the last six years, but there's ample reason for the studio to be somewhat reticent in revisiting its iconic espionage series.

First of all, there's what Ubi saw as an underperformance for the last game – at the end of the day, video games are obviously a business, and if a game fails to do the numbers, then why would you pour cash and resources into something that didn't make bank last time around? Secondly, fans didn't respond all that well to the absence of stalwart Fisher voice actor Michael Ironside, whose whispering, gruff tones came to define the series. Ironside is getting on in years now, too (he's 71-years-old), so a return to the role outside of small cameo appearances in other games, seems unlikely. Would Blacklist's Eric Johnson be keen to return to the role? Given the backlash last time around, probably not.

That leaves the option of a complete reboot a distinct possibility, and, goodness knows, there's a definite demand from fans for Splinter Cell to return – evident in the tidal wave of disdain following every Ubisoft event that doesn't end with an announcement. E3 2021 was no different, as the latest Ubisoft Forward event predictably culminated in disappointment, yet again. Ubi is guaranteed to have crunched the numbers regarding the time, money, and effort it would take to resurrect Splinter Cell, and maybe it simply doesn't add up. But with a potential resurgence in spies, stealth, and top secret missions coming by way of Perfect Dark and James Bond making eagerly anticipated video game comebacks, there's never been a better time for Sam Fisher to pounce from the shadows, fingers and toes crossed, of course.


An almost eight-year gap does essentially grant Ubisoft carte blanche to do what it wants with Splinter Cell, were it to pull the trigger on a new one. Currently, series custodian Ubisoft Toronto has its hands full with Far Cry 6, having previously released Watch Dogs: Legion (directed by Splinter Cell alum Clint Hocking, no less) – it's apparent that the studio can turn its hand to whatever IP is thrown its way, but Splinter Cell is clearly a franchise that doesn't fit Ubisoft's current business model, which deals exclusively with vast open worlds like Assassin's Creed or live service games like The Division. Beyond the odd outlier like Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, smaller, single-player experiences are, by and large, a rarity for Ubi these days.

Factor in the departure of Splinter Cell Conviction and Blacklist Creative Director Maxime Beland last year, and someone new at Ubisoft Toronto would be required to step up to the plate (Hocking being a possible safe pair of hands). Furthermore, being tasked with spearheading a new entry in such a beloved, renowned IP could be seen as a daunting, potentially thankless assignment – succeed in delivering a great game after eight years and fans will clearly be elated; conversely, botching such a long-awaited revival could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Splinter Cell. And, obviously, nobody wants that. Hocking has tangoed with Fisher plenty of times before, most notably directing Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory - could he maybe be coaxed back to lead development on a brand-new instalment?

It's also worth remembering that Splinter Cell Conviction and Blacklist were fraught with development issues, as then-developer Ubisoft Montreal clamoured to make the stealth genre more mainstream. Blacklist's prescribed Ghost, Panther, and Assault gameplay approaches were maligned for pigeon-holing how you're encouraged to play the game. Conviction had its own problems, too, with Ubi changing direction some way into development, in favour of something more recognisably Splinter Cell. You could argue that since the purity of the original game and its first two sequels, the series has struggled to find its feet and nail its identity.


Maybe Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain raising the bar (and expanding beyond straight-up stealth) made Ubisoft think twice about competing with its own take on Hideo Kojima’s 2015 opus, and, despite that game shipping an impressive six million copies, as of December 2015, stealth games remain somewhat niche. Not every stealth-based title is a multi-million seller - Eidos-Montréal’s 2014 Thief reboot performed poorly, and, while Arkane’s first Dishonored did well, the 2016 sequel limped its way to 2.5 million units sold (equally beloved by fans and celebrated for its magnificent design). The Tenchu series (one that Ubisoft incidentally has publishing history with) also unceremoniously fizzled out, thanks to increasingly lacklustre efforts and weak sales figures to match. Even ninjas can’t guarantee that your stealth game will be a hit, which is saying something. Perhaps linear stealth titles don’t cut the mustard, when it comes to coaxing in a broader audience?

A forthcoming Splinter Cell animated Netflix series and continuing talk of Tom Hardy taking up the goggles as Fisher for a live-action movie adaptation may serve as helpful barometers to gauge broader interest in Ubisoft's dormant stealth series. But until the return of Splinter Cell to video games gets greenlit, every instance of Sam Fisher appearing in a mobile game like Tom Clancy's Elite Squad, popping up in Fortnite, or receiving another cameo in a different Ubi title, will always feel like a huge slap in the face. Ubisoft knows we all want it; let's just hope that one day, it finds the best way to bring Splinter Cell roaring back to life - or switching his goggles back on, with that iconic sound effect. It's been too damn long.

  • I love splinter cell, and would happily have the 1st 3 games Remastered.

    My issues with later ones, conviction, didn't like the fact you apparently let lambert die in previous game and the lone wolf type, was great game though.

    Blacklist, I think they should have kept ironside but given Sam Fisher a supporting role aka new lambert and had a new young spy take over
  • Ubisoft screwed up and didn't listen to fans and are amazed that fans stopped by the game just because Splinter Cell was slapped on the cover.

    I am with Caramel Cardinal, I would absolutely love to see the first three get remastered, especially if they gave the first two a Metro: Redux treatment by having the move sets and knife be available from the first game on wards. I felt that every game after Chaos Theory was Ubi's attempt at turning Sam into a Jason Bourne-esque character which was only reinforced with the mark and execute being added in the last two games.

    Ubi is about to learn this same lesson with the Ghost Recon franchise if the reddit and official subs are anything to go by, Ubisoft has stopped listening to fans and are listening to some suit who has probably never touched a video game in their life and wants the game to mimic some new fad in a different medium.

    I know it's become a recurring hope for players to hope we'll get SC news whenever E3 rolls around but me personally I'd rather not get a new SC until Ubi shows that they intend to start listening to fans again, I'd play a remaster but I know from being a GR fan that any new SC we get will end up being a buggy open world mess that is riddled with MTX and dumb skins that turn you into Bozo the Clown.
  • I’d love to see the first three remastered and modernized a bit.
    I also really liked Blacklist and Conviction a ton. I was fine with the various options designed to appeal to different gamer play styles. Keep that. Go with a traditional style, action, mostly just for story and a free style version. But change the objectives in the levels based on the various styles. Same levels, just tweak AI, layout and behavior and objectives.
  • Remastered is the best you can hope for, so many people saying they love splinter cell yet the sales of the games were poor lol either the games were poor or people were buying preowned because those figures don't lie. It is harder to cram in micro transactions into a single player game than multiplayer and this is Ubisoft so not much chance of a new game really. To be honest though i'd rather they get cracking with beyond good and evil 2 and skull and bones.
  • Why doesn't Ubisoft like Sam Fisher anymore? Simple. Because he's a straight White Male.
  • Because it’s hard to monetize a SP game with one iconic character beyond retail purchase. So they’re just using the license to add Fischer to various other games where that is the case?

    It’s really a shame
  • Perhaps they could combine it with Assassins Creed and have you reliving Fischer's life via his DNA :)
  • @marvelouslie

    Was going to say the same thing.
  • Probably for the best. Ubisoft would probably just turn it into an open-world co-op game littered with collectibles and an obscene amount of microtransactions.
  • It's not that Ubisoft doesn't like Sam, they just like MTAs more.
  • @marvelouslie & @Gintama - Fucking eyeroll. We should talk more about the lack of representation of straight white men in video games...

    The reason is discussed in the (great) article and several posts, a SP focused game just does not align with Ubisoft's current model.

    If modern Ubisoft decided to release a new Splinter Cell, I highly doubt it would be the game we're actually after so frankly I'm happy to wait for trends to shift.

    It's a shame the stealth genre does struggle with more mainstream appeal, something the immersive sim genre and it's stealthy counterparts also suffer, but if people just ain't buying them we aren't going to see AAA budget games in that genre either.
  • @marvelouslie leave your baseless conspiracy theories in the garbage bin where you found them, kid.
  • @Wrinklefighter It's not a "conspiracy theory". Look at how many white characters are being pushed out or completely "redesigned". Look at Hollywood and their check box ticking. Every single character that was initially a white ginger? Replaced with a black actor or actress. Most notably those that spout anti-white garbage on their Twitter timeline. You don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to see all the replacing going on. The fact that it's costing them money (even normies are starting to get sick of it) just doesn't seem to matter to them if they can push their bs agenda behind it.
  • @Dervius IE, He's a straight white male. Several studios have stated out front that they wouldn't be doing a large portion of titles with white men in them, in order to promote "diversity" (whatever good that does). Ticking checkboxes and tokenizing characters doesn't seem very diverse to me. Ignoring legacy characters in favor of the "new direction" tells you all you need to know about these game devs. Again, it's not a "conspiracy theory" if it's blatant and out in the open, but do go on and continue to be a sheep.
  • Lol this thread. Valhalla let you play as a straight white male viking, the people who raped and plundered their way across Europe. That has nothing to do with it

    Ubisoft likes to make open world, create your own character, and most importantly, heavy microtransactions. Splinter Cell doesn't fit that mold, money is the real reason
  • Remaster the first three like mass effect judge people’s reaction then if interest is high make a new game. It’s not rocket science.
  • @marvelouslie You are right with the way devs and stuff act now but that isn't the reason they won't do another splintercell, Blacklist just didn't do that well and a linear stealth game isn't really what ubisoft make anymore, if they did make another splintercell it wouldn't be the game we love.
  • I would not trust Ubisoft with a new Sam fisher game they will ruin it by adding micro transactions and loot boxes in to the game.
  • @marvelouslie - We've had literally decades where straight white men have been the default protagonists in video games, in fact we're still there. Those games are still getting made.

    In the past few years an increasing number of devs are starting to acknowledge there are other people in the world, many of them gamers so we're seeing a more diverse array of protagonisys and better representation in games. It does 'good' by telling a broader set of stories and actually better representing the diversity of people who play these games.

    The majority of games are still that safe white-man default so I wouldn't worry too much about some faux "white-erasure" moment.

    But you also used the word 'normie' unironically so I highly doubt you want to actually discuss the topic at all, but just sound off about some prejudices you hold.
  • It's pretty obvious that Splinter Cell won't see a new game unless they can find a way to make it fit the tired, overused Ubisoft mold of a microtransaction filled open world with rinse/repeat fetch quest bitch work.

    While 2 million units sold isn't a big number, Ubisoft should look at the series as a whole. Splinter Cell at best, ever sold within the 2-3 million range with the exception of the first game. So it's not like there was a huge plummet in sales from one game to the next, again, with the exception of the initial first one.

    The problem is microtransactions and live service subscriptions have over-inflated profits into a meteoric level for developers, so anything but that will always look like a failure in the eyes of the developer.
  • @Dervius it seems every time you post something you’re calling out evil white men or calling people stupid for their beliefs. You must be a troll or something because you never actually talk games. Get out of your mothers basement and do something meaningful with your life.
  • @marvelouslie Batman, Superman, most the Avengers, Master Chief, Nathan Drake, most the Assassin's Creed protagonists, only 7 of the 600 hundred some US billionaires are black and white people dominate every level of government. This is you being oppressed? This is the SJWs taking over? It's beyond pathetic that stuff like making Heimdall black causes you to lose your fragile mind.
  • @Wrinklefighter I never said white people were oppressed. Seems like you lack reading comprehension. I said tokenizing legacy characters is actively costing companies money. Look at "Batwoman". Look at Doctor Who. Both shows made a big deal about their leads being women, and a good majority of their episodes demonize men (particularly white men), and their ratings are tanking because of it.

    They're replacing Ariel with a black actress (for some strange reason), they've replaced (and are fully committed to) Iris West with a black woman. They made Jimmy Olsen into a buff, bald black guy that doesn't completely represent who the character is, or what he was meant to portray. Again. My issue isn't about "representation". My issue is tokenizing already established characters and changing a characters' race / sexuality / personality all for ticking a checkbox.
  • @Mshat18 That's how these people operate, my dude. I mean, he made a big deal out of me using "normie" for God's sake. What else would you call someone who isn't hip deep in nerd culture?
  • @marvelouslie no, you're sitting on your butt complaining that white people can't be portrayed in media any more. "Because he's a straight white male" - your own salty words, bud. When I think of a character like Jimmy Olson I think photographer, nerd, argyle sweater - end of list. I don't think "Caucasian" so I could give a crap if they make him a different race. Do companies do this a lot, if not the majority, of times to capitalize on it and make a couple bucks? Absolutely. But your problem isn't with that at the end of the day and we both know it.

    And your "stay woke, go broke" narrative holds now water. Captain Marvel made a billion dollars despite the incel crowd raging about it online. You are demonstrably wrong.
  • @marvelouslie but feel free to stay so aggrieved, buddy. Someone already correctly told you why they aren't making Splinter Cell any more. It's the same reason they stopped making Dead Space. It's the same reason studio heads try and sell you the "no one wants single player games any more". Because they're harder to monetize than looter shooters. You being foolish enough to say it's because it's got a straight white male in it falls right into their corporate strategy that you pretend to hate. My guess is you're dumb enough to think that Nike is "woke" because they had a commercial with Kaepernick in it. They aren't. Only a chud would think otherwise.
  • @Mshat09

    Stay mad.

    I post on this site pretty often, you just only seem to get riled at the ones calling out the nonsense, sexism and thinly veiled racism that permeates the comment sections so often here.

    There's maybe three people I see post who seem to have a shred of decency or social conscience. Most of the others clamour to pat eachother on the back for their anti-wokeness.

    Keep fighting the good fight Wrinklefighter.
  • @Dervius back at you. The cancel culture grievance all these chuds like to shout about is the same PC culture drivel repackaged from twenty years ago. Weird that I hear all about how straight white male opinions aren't allowed any more non-effing-stop from number one rated cable show Tucker Carlson. You know, a straight while male. Almost like that goes against the narrative they're going for. If they were smart enough to have a shred of self awareness they might see the irony.
  • Holy shit. Staff might wonna disable comments here.
  • @marvelouslie what a bunch of the usual BS. White men aren't pushed out, rather more other groups are included. There's a difference. Why are you so butthurt that there are other people represented in video games and movies? Do you have anything against them? Sadly thats the only conclusion one can come to.
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