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A logical guess would be that Ubisoft wanted to see if there was any hope for the future of this series after "Cartel" bombed. Typically a publisher only continues to support games if they continue to have a decent amount of sales. CoJ and Bound in Blood both did pretty well and were fairly well praised - so releasing a sequel that hints at the future of the series with reduced production costs as a digital release (to cut down on the costs of burning dics, printing covers and buying boxes) is a great way to test the waters. That's probably why it's not a disc based game.
http://www.poorlyscripted.com - A tale of bad A.I.