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Are Annual Franchise Installments Good for the Industry?

Like it or not, we're seeing franchises turned into annual installments but does the old adage of "you can never get enough of a good thing" apply here? It seems that more developers are falling into this category with annual releases of franchises with minimal improvements.

The biggest perpetrator are Sports games. I used to buy Madden every year until I became weary of the minor improvements and continuous menu changes. Every year games like Madden, NHL, MLB and NCAA <insert sport here> get a new release, and in most cases, it's really not necessary. Madden hasn't done anything in the last few years that they couldn't have just applied with a title update. Take a look at the list of "New Features" that demand your hard earned money in Madden 12 and tell me that most if not all of those changes could have been added to the game via a downloadable update.

I think EA is the worst offender of this with MOST of their EA Sports titles(there are a few examples of good ones here). I'm still hearing the same commentary and seeing the same presentation in NHL 12 that I heard in 2009. Granted that doesn't make the game a winner or loser but I'm sure gamers would be ok with waiting an extra Calendar year to get a truly worthy upgrade to make the games more realistic.

Assassins Creed is a series that I quite enjoy. The story is fun and rather unique, but did we really need 3 games in the past 3years all featuring Ezio? I'm glad that Ezio's story has come to a close but I can see why Ubisoft is milking the series. There was a 2yr gap between Assassins Creed and AC2. In that time, Ubisoft took the time to listen to the criticisms and improve on the weaknesses the original had allowing them the time to build a larger world that can be used across multiple titles, more in depth story and upgrade every facet of their new series. This was a huge shot in the arm to the franchise as it received critical acclaim and huge sales success.

But now, Ubisoft is falling dangerously close to that lazy category as they've now released 3 titles in 3yrs that all feature the same character and cities. Time will tell if they continue with that downward trend as we're told that there will be yet another installment in the series in 2012.

Remember Rockband and Guitar Hero? I do. They were insanely popular games that died off very quickly largely in part to the annual releases and over saturation in the market. Guitar Hero is no more. Why? Uhmm...How about 3 expansions, 3 band centric releases and 6 new releases in 6 years. Rockband saw 3 New Releases, 2 Band Centric (What happened to all the promised DLC for the Beatles?), 1 Spin off and 7 trackpacks in 4yrs. Over saturation killed this genre.

People will argue that CoD is getting new releases every year and while that's true to a degree, the new releases are set in very different worlds and by different developers (It's been 2yrs since Modern Warfare 2)so it's not really something I think of as an annual title.

Personally I think that developers really need to take a step back and rethink this strategy of flooding the market with their AAA franchises just to keep the brand in the news. If they really want to impress me, take the extra time to build new innovative gaming experiences. Take what they've been successful with and build on it. Sure the wait will suck but in the end, it can only mean good things for us and them.

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QuodEratDemonstrandm4138d ago

One title can't flood the market.
CoD won't do it alone but: CoD + Battlefield + Medal of Honor + Resistance + Halo + Killzone + MAG + Homefront + Brink = market flooded. CoD's success in these conditions is surprising.

I've played Assassin's Creed since the very first game. I enjoy every minute of them. But the lack of substantial content in Revelations is a little worrying. I got assassination contracts from Il Magnifico in ACII, and from Machiavelli in Brotherhood. Where are the dozen or so Suleiman contracts in Revelations? And only one mission per faction? Plenty of story, lacking in side jobs. I'll still probably pre order the next one. It's just a little worrying.

Crazay4138d ago

The biggest strong point in the AC series is without a doubt the story telling but story telling alone won't keep it afloat. If memory serves, Splinter Cell kinda went through a period where games came out each year for a few consecutive years making people grow tired of the franchise forcing them to take a step back and reinvent Sam Fisher which they did to varying degrees of success after a 3yr hiatus.

ZombieAssassin4137d ago

They pretty much did it with Prince of Persia also...funny AC/PoP/SC are all Ubisoft.

iamnsuperman4138d ago (Edited 4138d ago )

Hurting the industry? I do not know. The reason for these yearly franchises existing is because their is a need for them and is immensely profitable for the industry. You mention guitar hero and rockband which were brought out quite a lot in a short space of time but it could be argued this games were fads. It was a new way to play music games but once it is done once the second time is less popular and so on. Eventually the fad would have died because there wasn't much more that could be done. In essence it is a karaoke instrument game. I wouldn't say the yearly releases hurt the industry because it is obvious that there is a need for them. When it becomes less popular to do it then we will see a decrease in yearly releases. Remember the gaming industry is an entertainment industry and so needs to provide entertainment for its consumers. There may not be technical achievements but the yearly releases still support the industries core function and that is to entertain and it still does (look at sales figures).

Crazay4138d ago (Edited 4138d ago )

Well said Superman(Bubbs up sir) - There's alot of validity to your point about the Plastic Instrument games being a Fad and I really like that point. It could easily be argued either way.

As for the "Need" aspect, I'm not so sure there's a "Need" to release new games in franchises EVERY YEAR in some cases. The release of good quality DLC can keep games in the headlines well past it's initial release date. For example: Fallout 3 was an incredible title with amazing replay value couple that with DLC every few months and the game will still be played. Assassins Creed could easily fall into this category if they planned for it. If they planned to make say...6-8 DLC episodes, that could easily prolong the game's shelf life well past the 1 year allowing them to make bigger improvements in the sequel while adding to their bottom line.

RedSky4136d ago (Edited 4136d ago )

1. There is a need for them.

Not before there weren't yearly franchises.

2. Guitar Hero/Rockband were fads.

Games like CoD and Assassins Creed recycle far too much of the content from each release. CoD in the overall singleplayer, and AC in the mindless filler task missions you can get.

Yes, CoD does include some multiplayer additions every now and then (although I would say most of these came in MW2, and horribly bloated what was a traditional shooter with arcade style powerups and non-skill abilities).

Yes AC2 does have a continuous and developing storyline (although I would say it reeks of 'we made it up on the go' with no sense of coherence, a bloated amount of characters and not much of a serious conclusion, the original premise was clever, I'll give them that).

3. It is obvious there is a need for them.

Um, no again the industry was fine without them before they realised they could make more money selling the same thing with a new coat of paint.

4. Entertainment value.

Quality not quantity. I think it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are more FPSs coming out (good and bad) than the average person holding down a job can every imagine having time to play.

Not all of these are yearly franchises but imagine if you doubled all of their release cycles (reducing the games released per year by half) and improved their quality while adding more significant technical refinements. I don't think all but the most die hard gamers with seriously little to do other than play games would mind. Hell, I think they'd prefer it.

You only have to play 5 minutes of MW3, see the amount of detail crammed into ever explosion to realise with their release cycles there is physically no way they can contemplate spending any serious amount of time changing the engine before they get their filler texture monkeys to start cramming out pixels.

iamnsuperman4136d ago

You are looking to mich from a personal prepsecitive. The need for them is the demand which is represented in sale figures. Entertainment wise the reason why people buy these yearly franchises is because they are entertained by them. You may not be but a lot are. So much so more and more people buy it. So from a busniess prespective there is a need that can be exploited without loss of sales

hennessey864138d ago

we couldnt get enough ww2 games and that eventualy died down.

s45gr324138d ago

Yes its hurting the industry due to simply being it could of being sold as an expansion pack or DLC

Pikajew4138d ago (Edited 4138d ago )

I wonder when Activision will do 2 CoD a year. I like Activision but they should take a year break on CoD, same goes for every dev with yearly releases

QuodEratDemonstrandm4137d ago

If Activision didn't release CoD in 2012, then in 2013, when the new CoD is announced, there would be an outbreak of hyperacute cephalysis among the CoDaholics

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