Are yearly iterations of video game franchises bad?

By on September 27, 2011

It solely depends on content and quality.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

In recent years there has been a huge emergence of yearly iterations of popular franchises. With Call of Duty leading the way in terms of popularity we are now observing a trend in which large video game franchises decide to put a new iteration on a yearly basis. This has caused quite the uproar in the gaming community as there are people who absolutely love a new game of the same franchise released yearly, while there are others who completely despise the idea. The problem at hand however is that people are not taking into account what actually decides if yearly games are bad or not. Rather than focusing on the time span it took for the product to come out after the previous one was released we should instead look at changes, content, and quality as the determining factor.

Call of Duty, the hailed King of yearly releases.

The main point of interest which people should discuss when deciding if a game is worth picking up yearly is whether the game has enough differentiation and content to justify a release within a year’s time of the previous edition . Let’s look for example at the king of yearly releases: Call of Duty. While Call of Duty is a pretty fun game to play, I don’t believe that the amount of content or upgrades from each game is actually enough to justify a brand new game. Instead an expansion pack or just simple continuous addition of DLC to the game can serve to be enough instead of a yearly full on release. Each year although the are some changes to the gameplay and a few tweaks here and there Call of Duty always plays the exact same way. It might be immensely popular now but sooner or later people will get fed up with the idea of having just minor upgrades each year in the franchise. Activison should either work on fundamentally making more drastic improvements on their Call of Duty franchise or extend the title through Expansions and add-on content while making way for a brand new engine to be released when it’s ready.

On the other side of the spectrum we have franchises that are following a yearly game concept while being extremely successful in adding a ton of content and changes that make each purchase worth the full $60 dollars. The big giant that comes to mind is of course the highly critically acclaimed FIFA franchise. While Call of Duty offers minor changes and tweaks to the game, the FIFA development team revolutionizes how the game is played every single year. If you look at the upcoming FIFA 12 and compare it to FIFA 11, the difference is quite substantial when it comes to gameplay. On the outskirts FIFA 12 might look very similar to FIFA 11, but once you touch the controller and actually play you will notice that tons of stuff you used to do in FIFA 11 just won’t work in FIFA 12. Changing the physics engine of the game, the dribbling system, and the defending system are huge changes that affect the game and actually make a difference to fans of the franchise.

The FIFA franchise constantly offers tons of new changes and complete system overhauls that make a yearly purchase quite justifiable.

In all reality, I don’t think that simply because a game is released just a year after the previous iteration it should be called bad. If the game has enough content and upgrades packed in then a yearly release could be completelyworth it. It’s always the quality of the content and the amount of changes from a previous game in the franchise that determines whether a game is good or not, not the fact that it’s released on a yearly basis.


A young zergling from Bahrain dreaming of one day magically morphing into an ultralisk. 20 years old, 2nd year of university, and a lover of all types of games specially RPGs and RTSs.

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  • Aequitas

    A game can only evolve or be more optimized when it doesn’t have a specified deadline. With a Yearly release system the publisher doesn’t care whether or not the game has been finished or not. When the time comes the game will be shipped even if its only half-done. What that has gotten us is games like Dead Island(game releases with Xbox Developer Edition for PC), Rage(so badly optimized with its random texture popping and screen tearing) and Black Ops(I had friends with better Rigs than mine who were getting 10 Frames Per Second staring at a wall while another friend with a far worse rig who got a solid 60 Frames Per Second VSync). This results in game studios releasing 300 MBytes Patches immediately after release for the following 2 weeks.

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