Thursday, 17 January 2013

Yearly Sequels: Good or Bad?

In recent years many blockbuster franchises, most notably Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed, have had yearly release schedules. Many say that this hampers progress and they use games such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, a game very similar to its predecessors, as an example of this.

What I want to say here is that I don't think that that's the case. I will use a couple of case studies to argue this, they will be Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty.

Modern Warfare 3 wasn't derivative of its predecessors because of a rushed release schedule, it was because of money. Why would Infinity Ward and Activision make changes to what was a guaranteed cash cow? It wouldn't make any sense on a business level. Also, Treyarch follow a similar schedule and they managed to make massive changes to the Call of Duty formula which made Black Ops 2 the best Call of Duty yet. They made the changes because change was necessary for the series not to irritate even it's core fanbase but they made them on the same schedule because yearly releases do clearly provide them with enough time to make the massive changes, such as a branching storyline and optional missions, that they made.

Then you get a game like Assassin's Creed 3 which attempted to refine the Assassin's Creed formula and did so on the same yearly release schedule but was, quite frankly, an abomination. If you e read mine and Alan's review for Assassin's Creed 3 then you'll know that we both think its a terrible game. But this is not because of a yearly release schedule. The previous games in the series are all very good (3 being so terrible made me appreciate Revelations, which I previously hated) and all progressed the series in some way/ways even though they were released yearly. (Apart from 1-2 which, admittedly, featured the biggest changes). So why then was Assassin's Creed 3 awful? Well it's a simple case of being made up largely from terrible development ideas. It's got very little to do with a tight schedule, which the series shows isn't an issue, and everything to do with whatever the hell the developers were smoking when they thought Assassin's Creed 3 was a good game.

Personally I'm all for yearly releases and I wished more franchises could do it. I'd love to have a fresh new Uncharted experience every year, who wouldn't? Of course it would have to be done in a way that didn't jeopardise new IPs but if they could do this the I'd say bring it on because I hate having to wait years for the next instalment in my favourite series.

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