Typically the next game in your favourite series is released two years after the one that came before it. Whilst there are exceptions (Duke Nukem Forever, Metal Gear Rising) this is largely the rule and, although games such as Call of Duty give the practice of releasing a new instalment in a series each year some severely negative press I still believe that more gaming franchises should follow Call of Duty’s example and should be released each year.
Take Assassin’s Creed for example, since the second game came out there has been a new one out each year and, with the next game coming out in 2012, Ubisoft are clearly sticking with this plan (although they have suggested they make take things slower afterwards). Whatever you may think of the series each game within it has undoubtedly been an improvement on the one that preceded it in terms of story, graphics and gameplay. The games have all been changed enough for them to feel fresh but are similar enough to be instantly enjoyable and our not having to wait too long for the story to progress has given the series an unique sense of pace that many other games lack.
Leading by example.
I’m not saying that all games should follow this format, a new Metal Gear Solid game every year would not work, neither would a new Elder Scrolls, Fallout, or Mass Effect, some games are supposed to have long development cycles, and some need space to breathe between releases. Games such Assassin’s Creed however should stick to the game a year strategy. I also feel that this would work well for Uncharted and God of War and, if you’re an Xbox gamer, Gears of War. All three of those series would benefit from the increase in pace in their releases, the games all bear some similarities to Assassin’s Creed and would share the same benefits it has if the release cycle was shortened, and I’m sure the developers behind them would have no problem producing the same quality of game in a shorter period of time, their credentials speak for themselves.
This isn’t the only thing that needs to change however; the way that games are sold also needs to change. I recently picked up a copy of Battlefield 3 and, for me, it’s the greatest multiplayer game within the first person shooter genre, the single player however, and the co-op, are just terrible. The story was dull and uninspired and the gameplay was yawn inducing, the only way I could bring myself to finish the campaign was the promise of the trophy I would receive at the end and, at times, even that was barely enough. Now it’s all well and good simply stating that developers of games such as Battlefield and Call of Duty should just make better single player games but this could very well be un-realistic, maybe they just aren’t capable of doing anything great with their single player and, even if they were, why should they? Both Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield are doing considerably better than their predecessors. So, instead of this, they should release games in a different way, for example you should be able to spend say £20 on the multiplayer portion of a game and the single player/co-op part should be bundled together and sold separately. This would be far better than spending £40 on a game that you only want for its multiplayer section.
With changes like this, and perhaps with switching some things so that they are available as a download, instead of on a disc, the gaming industry could change for the better, it could also happen relatively quickly, the only question really is if a change in business model would be financially viable, which, let’s face it, it may not be, I only want to pay £20 for a game like Battlefield 3 but I’d rather pay £40 for it than not get it at all so maybe we, as gamers, need to change before the industry can change.