Living through Time: the Journey of Sands of Time Prince of Persia’s Remake Up to 2026

When it comes to the iterative world of video games, few announcements carry with them the intentional nostalgia of a cult classic reboot quite like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake. Like its Middle Eastern source material, the development of Ubisoft’s reimagining of a classic has been a whirlwind tale of twists, turns, and, more than anything, a lot of time manipulation. Despite initial excitement, uneasy rumours, and a few minor development missteps, at Ubisoft Forward 2024, the company announced that the long-awaited reboot will finally hit the market in 2026. Revealed alongside a new teaser, I must admit it was a lot to take in. Developed for more than half a decade, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake is the result of a daunting studio effort and a long (spanned, or rather sand, of time).

The Sands of Time: A Legacy Reborn

The Prince of Persia series in all its iterations is beloved by gamers. The original Sands of Time, initially released for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC in November 2003, is regarded as a genre-defining game, uniting platforming gameplay with a cinematic story that managed to combine heart-pounding action with deeper emotional resonances. Today, the announcement of a remake triggered ecstatic buzz only to be followed by another interminable performance of patience-testing delays.

A ROGUE Journey Through Development

This much-anticipated relaunch hasn’t been a particularly smooth road for this title: announced with much fanfare, the project encountered a series of setbacks, starting with its first delay in December 2020, followed by an open-ended postponement in February 2021. Ubisoft handed the development baton from its Pune and Mumbai studios to the battle-hardened veterans at Ubisoft Montreal in May 2022. The Assassin’s Creed Valhalla studio has, since that point, been heading the project, recently graduating to ‘conception’ in development in May 2023.

The ROGUE Renaissance Phase

A blog post from Ubisoft gave an uplifting update that the Sands of Time Remake was now in ‘full production’ with Ubisoft Montreal leading development with support from sister studios in Toronto, Bucharest, Paris, and Pune: With respect to our industry peers who admire these games as much as we do, we collectively want to rise up to the challenge and put the bar even higher, so that our remake reflects the game’s legacy with the same acclaim.

Ubisoft's ROGUE Endeavors and Updates

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Ubisoft’s relationship with the Prince of Persia IP is that its work with the series isn’t over, not by a long shot. Since the release of the Sands of Time Remake, Ubisoft has been building out the franchise with new titles and additions, including The Lost Crown and The Rogue Prince of Persia, which is due to receive a story DLC in September. On 10 June 2022, The Rogue Prince of Persia received its first ever free title update – and given the number of new games that feel rushed to production, far from the last.

Embracing the ROGUE: The Future of Prince of Persia

Ubisoft’s roadmap with the series shows clearly how a franchise can last so long, and how it can be reimagined and evolved for modern gaming. Developers will continue to face these challenges and the community will keep its fingers crossed that what comes out of the Sands of Time Remake will be both old and new.

Reflections on the Sands Remake

For Prince of Persia fans, this is the most important part of the story, because it tells us something about what is still possible. The Sands of Time Remake will (we hope) arrive by 2026.

The Essence of ROGUE in Prince of Persia's Journey

In looking at the development story of the Sands of Time Remake, it feels like the teams at Ubisoft have it in them to be a kind of rogue studio. What could have driven this team to adapt and change with the circumstances, pivot, and continue – as if they were the Prince himself, resourceful and adventurous? This spirit lingers in the game, and in the bond that develops between community and product as it goes through this Loveletter-esque process.

Understanding ROGUE: The Heart of Resilience

Rogue, as used in the context of the development odyssey involving the Prince of Persia, goes beyond fashioning a title or a trait of character. It is instead the embodiment of boldness and bravery, adventure and artistry and resilience, of living at full throttle, of daring to innovate and daring to try. It’s the intrepid spirit behind a developer, and the supportive community behind the developer, involved in bringing a legend back to life – the hopeful, expectant fans keen to be the avatar of a classic that has sparked the imaginations of so many.

By the time the sands finish falling, what’s left will be something quite beautiful. In 2023, I’ll dig through the dirt and dust on my shelf and I’ll put the Prince of Persia back on my television set. And whether this version feels like old friends or something brand new, I’ll sit down on my couch and play the game all over again. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica under the headline ‘When will the new Prince of Persia be available? A rogue’s guide to the Sands of Time Remake’s troubled development’ and is republished here with permission.

Jun 11, 2024
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