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Author Topic: Annual Installments discussion  (Read 540 times)
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Knightshade Dragon
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« on: February 04, 2014, 02:46:11 PM »

Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Batman, Resident Evil (so...many...remakes), Battlefield, Need for Speed, ALL sports titles, and I'm sure I've missed a few....

You look at these games and you have to wonder if some of these games would do better being every other year or even less frequent than that.  Hear me out.  If there was a Grand Theft Auto title every year, do you think that V would have done as well as it did?  Do you imagine you'd see as big a world with as much gameplay if GTA was forced to be shoved out the door every year?  I look at the fact that in the last 20 years of Madden it's only been twice that sales have "met expectations" and I wonder why expectations are so high (I don't have to be told anything 18 times...) and how the publisher expects the developer to iterate on Football every year.  The rules are kinda set, and you aren't going to mess with that, so what are you expecting to do other than introduce gimmicks and nonsense?  Call of Duty can iterate a story, but there are very few new 'concepts' in shooters.  What are your thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2014, 02:58:19 PM »

For sure.  Being on a yearly cycle doesn't give you the luxury of being able to do much.  We've seen it even with non-story type games such as the EA Sports titles.  I don't like the GTA series, so it wouldn't matter to me if it went to a year or 10 years (same with Call of Duty), but something like Assassin's Creed could benefit from even going to once every other year.  From a business sense, though, it makes complete sense why they do this.

I think Madden could benefit from having a new game every other year and the year in between a roster update, but they'll make less money in the end and there's no way they'll do it.
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2014, 03:27:36 PM »

Call of Duty is at least having different teams work on the game, meaning each game gets 2 years of dev time. However, what that has meant is that good innovations in one year's game wind up getting completely ignored by the next year's game.

Games that are single-player focused like AC and Batman should not come out on a schedule, that's just asking for trouble.

Sports titles are expected to come out every year. I think the problem with those games is just lack of focus, though. One year Madden comes out with the "hit stick" or whatever and then the next year they throw it away for some other gimmick. They should just make a commitment to good AI and controls and iterate that each year. Add on a few improved franchise features, etc. I think if the core game is good people wouldn't care that it's not a completely new game each year.
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 03:49:01 PM »

Since my gaming calendar year basically revolves around the releases of new NHL, FIFA, and MLB games if they weren't yearly installments I'd buy maybe two games a year.
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 04:11:01 PM »

Seems lame to me. I burned out on CoD a long time ago. The only yearly franchise I play is AC. And sine I wait for the price to hit $10 on sales it's usually 1.5 yrs or so between games. I will play 3 and 4 close together this year since I got 4 for free with my new video card. I love RPG's enough that I would probably play those as soon as they come out but for a whole host of reasons they don't do those yearly. It really does surprise me that people buy sports games every year.  Only thing I would think you would need would be current rosters. Scanning reviews it doesn't seem like they improve the game in terms of making them more realistic every year.
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 04:18:40 PM »

FIFA usually changes quite a bit in terms of gameplay each year. FIFA 14 isn't even the same game as FIFA 13 in terms of how the players move and the physics of the game. Scoring strategies have had to adapt quite a bit to be successful.

NHL has been a bit stagnant over the past couple of iterations but before that they made some decent changes between versions.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2014, 04:29:22 PM »

I think it depends on the game. Multiplayer shooters, I say an annual release is probably a good thing. Gamers get burned out, they max out level, and they're wanting to move on to the next thing.

Sports titles are obvious candidates for annual releases just to keep rosters and rule changes current.

Everything else, they need to take the time to make the best game they can. I don't need an Assassin's Creed or GTA every year. The AC series I see as one in extreme danger of suffering from the annual release schedule. While Black Flag was terrific, there was still a lot of sameness to it compared to other entries in the series. At some point you need to shake game mechanics up and I'm not sure you can properly do that under those kinds of time constraints.

The problem of course, is the same reason Hollywood churns out sequels. Even if it's not great, there are enough fans of the series that you're guaranteed at least some base level of income. You're far better off selling 500,000 copies of a new but completely derivative and boring revision of Call of Duty than you are selling 100,000 copies of an unproven IP.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 04:31:04 PM by YellowKing » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2014, 04:39:14 PM »

Outside of sports games I think biennial would be much better.
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2014, 04:58:33 PM »

Battlefield does not come out every year, they're already on a 2-year cycle. 
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2014, 05:04:52 PM »

Other than AC, which hasn't had a perfect run since it went annual, I don't have a lot of annual game playing.  I stopped playing CoD competitively over 3 years ago and the SP 2 years ago.  what makes AC a bit of an interesting case is that they are in my favorite genre, but one that I'll admit I can get burned out on if I play too many back to back.  some times the collection aspect of it kills my desire before I even get started.  This is why I never got much time with AC Revelations.  too close after Brotherhood when I played it.  Black Flag was different enough from GTA V that it didn't feel like I was playing one game.  

I think that if Batman was truly an annual game, I would slowly grow to hate it.  I replayed AC too soon before Origins and the newer game suffered for the comparison.  of course, the bugs didn't help, but the overwhelming sense of "I just did this, why am I doing it again" really brought the experience down unfairly.  

I think that sports games should scale back if they aren't going to innovate beyond the roster update, but I'm not a part of that scene.  I just think it detracts from dev time too much if they have one team working on it.  
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2014, 08:05:14 PM »

The annual installments for the UFC games actually improved the gameplay/features of the series as it went on, even though the net code sucked.
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2014, 10:43:59 PM »

Funny, look who just went to a 3 year cycle?  Call of Duty.  Treyarch is moving back to next year and Sledgehammer Games gets the call this year.

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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2014, 11:04:34 PM »

Quote from: Caine on February 06, 2014, 10:43:59 PM

Funny, look who just went to a 3 year cycle?  Call of Duty.  Treyarch is moving back to next year and Sledgehammer Games gets the call this year.

Link

It's a 3 year development cycle, but still an annual release schedule.
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 11:12:10 PM »

Quote from: YellowKing on February 04, 2014, 04:29:22 PM

I think it depends on the game. Multiplayer shooters, I say an annual release is probably a good thing. Gamers get burned out, they max out level, and they're wanting to move on to the next thing.

Sports titles are obvious candidates for annual releases just to keep rosters and rule changes current.

Everything else, they need to take the time to make the best game they can. I don't need an Assassin's Creed or GTA every year. The AC series I see as one in extreme danger of suffering from the annual release schedule. While Black Flag was terrific, there was still a lot of sameness to it compared to other entries in the series. At some point you need to shake game mechanics up and I'm not sure you can properly do that under those kinds of time constraints.

The problem of course, is the same reason Hollywood churns out sequels. Even if it's not great, there are enough fans of the series that you're guaranteed at least some base level of income. You're far better off selling 500,000 copies of a new but completely derivative and boring revision of Call of Duty than you are selling 100,000 copies of an unproven IP.

Yup. Totally agree.

Quote from: EngineNo9 on February 06, 2014, 11:04:34 PM

Quote from: Caine on February 06, 2014, 10:43:59 PM

Funny, look who just went to a 3 year cycle?  Call of Duty.  Treyarch is moving back to next year and Sledgehammer Games gets the call this year.

Link

It's a 3 year development cycle, but still an annual release schedule.

I like this model the best. From my perspective I absolutely want more titles faster but being in dev myself, I know that time is the biggest constraint. With different dev teams, you can still release annually but have a longer dev cycle. Best of both worlds.
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 04:32:37 AM »

I strongly dislike 'annual installment' games and I generally avoid them. I don't play 'Call Of Duty', 'Assassin's Creed' or any of those annual sport titles. I think the rush to get these games out once a year on the dot makes for generic gameplay and storytelling. Notice how none of these annual titles are actually original in character or setting? It's just the same old game with maps and graphics reshuffled and I'm saddened to see so many gamers now fall into this trap of buying them. Give me a 'Bioshock: Infinite', 'Last Of Us' or Zelda game every other year or three instead of these cynical, yearly cash-in titles.
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2014, 12:31:25 PM »

I find one of two things, either i don't get them annually but say every other year regardless or once i stop buying one then i don't buy them again like CoD.

There is so much to buy and play that there is just no need to keep buying the same football game year in and year out.
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2014, 01:02:45 PM »

I wish Unreal Tournament would have had an annual series. I thought they were headed in that direction with 2003, 2004, and 3, but then.. years of nothing.

It's probably the only game where I've bought every UT title (down to the original Unreal) on every platform.
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2014, 02:53:56 AM »

Quote from: corruptrelic on February 07, 2014, 01:02:45 PM

I wish Unreal Tournament would have had an annual series. I thought they were headed in that direction with 2003, 2004, and 3, but then.. years of nothing.

It's probably the only game where I've bought every UT title (down to the original Unreal) on every platform.


'Unreal Tournament' really needs to come back. I had tons of fun with those games.
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2014, 06:23:23 PM »

Quote from: PR_GMR on February 08, 2014, 02:53:56 AM

Quote from: corruptrelic on February 07, 2014, 01:02:45 PM

I wish Unreal Tournament would have had an annual series. I thought they were headed in that direction with 2003, 2004, and 3, but then.. years of nothing.

It's probably the only game where I've bought every UT title (down to the original Unreal) on every platform.


'Unreal Tournament' really needs to come back. I had tons of fun with those games.

They were a blast.
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2014, 06:53:57 PM »

Loadout plays a LOT like Unreal Tourney
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« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2014, 06:23:07 AM »

First several of those titles listed don't have annual releases. Second series like CoD and AC are at the top of the sales charts every year. So while some here don't like the development choices the fact is they have made the publishers massive revenues.
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2014, 08:03:21 AM »

Quote from: Harkonis on February 08, 2014, 06:53:57 PM

Loadout plays a LOT like Unreal Tourney

I'm completely unfamiliar with that game. Off to webs to check it out!
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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2014, 03:21:54 PM »

Of the games that I played last generation, the ones I enjoyed least include
- Dragon Age II,
- Fable 2,
- Spore
- Assassin's Creed III,
- Assassin's Creed: Liberation,
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,
- Kameo: Elements of Power,
- The Temple of Elemental Evil,
and
- Lego Batman.  

Note that those aren't the worst games ever -- just ones that immediately spring to mind as bad experiences.

Games that I did not play but seemed pretty universally reviled were
- Duke Nukem Forever,
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City,
- Ride to Hell: Retribution,
- Aliens: Colonial Marines,
- Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
- Ashes Cricket 2013,
- Fighter Within,
and
- Amy.

Some of those games may have had truncated developments, but the only one I believe was part of an annualized release cycle is Assassin's Creed III.  Was that game a victim of being shoved out the door too soon by a publisher determined to maintain yearly editions?  I might have thought so, except for the fact that twelve months later, AC IV: Black Flag turned out to be *awesome.*

If there's a case to be made that annual release schedules are producing worse games, all I can say is that it hasn't been affecting my gaming.


I've also heard the idea that annual installments degrade a franchise's ability to innovate and grow.  If that were true, I would have expected Black Flag to share many of the fundamental design flaws as AC3.  I'd argue that we got the exact opposite -- every aspect of Black Flag, from the narrative design to the combat systems to the mission objectives, seems like a direct response to things that fans disliked about the previous entry.  Say what you will about Edward leaving home to become a self-made man; he's a hell of a lot more personable than Connor.

Are annual releases overexposing their brands, to the point where nobody cares what the new features are?  If so, that doesn't seem to be reflected in the sales numbers.  Call of Duty is still the biggest videogame franchise in the world, probably followed by Assassin's Creed, and I suspect Madden is still big business for EA.  Two weeks a year of running, climbing, and stabbing my way through the Animus has been worked out to be a pretty good schedule for me, and when that finally grows stale, I'll be free not to buy it.


Ultimately, annual releases are giving fans fresh content in the worlds they enjoy, without any definable downsides.  Would Bioshock or The Witcher or Zelda be as impactful if studios churned them out every twelve months on the dot?  Well, if people enjoyed them, and they sold enough to be profitable, and studios continued investing those windfalls into cultivating other new IPs, the impact would mean everybody is winning.

-Autistic Angel
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