Opinion: The Yearly Iteration Model This Generation Has Burnt Me Out
Opinion: The Yearly Iteration Model This Generation Has Burnt Me Out
Written Tuesday, September 25, 2012 By Dan Webb
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FIFA, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Need For Speed… What do all these franchises have in common? They’re all frickin’ huge multi-million selling franchises, for one. They also all adopt the yearly iteration model, a model that has its benefits for publishers but also has its hang-ups. Hang-ups that are usually missed by publishers because of the mountain of money that clouds their vision. Dear industry, anticipation and foresight are important tools too. Just sayin’.

The problem with the yearly iteration model is that people tend to get burnt out on a franchise and eventually lose the will to play it – especially if they play a lot of games, like myself. Even the most ardent fans of a franchise experience this. I’m sure of it. Then, when they do actually pluck up the courage to jump back in, they almost feel overwhelmed and pressured to catch up with all the titles they missed, which in itself presents a problem.

Take Call of Duty as an example. The last one I played all the way through was Modern Warfare 2. After that I just gave up on the franchise. Now though, if I want to go back and jump into the series, I feel like I have to play the previous three games I’ll have missed out on during this temporary hiatus from the franchise. That’s only going to burn me out once again and send me off into a shame spiral. Chances are if that happens I’ll be rocking back and forth in the corner of my room in nothing but my tighty-whiteys muttering profanities and twitching like a sleep-deprived mad scientist.

"Can Black Ops II bring something new to CoD this year?"

I know it’s not compulsory for me to go back through every title, but if you’d have missed an Assassin’s Creed game for example, you’d feel compelled to play through previous instalments, lest you have no notion as to what went on. I'd want to catch up on the key story beats. Sure, developers will give you recaps and whatnot to get you up to speed so you can jump in wherever, but come on, that’s just not the same. And it’s likely that a lot of the salient details will have been missed out. It’s like turning a book into a film – you can’t include every relevant piece of information otherwise you’d probably end up watching a ten hour movie! Either that or you could have a friend tell you the plot of a game you might have missed. Again, it’s just not the same.

The short-term effects are undeniable for a publisher. Game engines are expensive to make so in order to recoup a lot of that initial investment for developing said engine, releasing another title a year later using a slightly more polished version of that engine makes a lot of business sense. We get that. What a lot of publishers don’t get is the long-term implications that throwing out a new title every year might have. Sometimes the newer version will only slightly better the previous incarnation *cough* Assassin’s Creed: Revelations *cough* and this oversaturation can have damning effects on the long-term sustainability and indeed the credibility of the franchise. A perfect example of this is the infamous Guitar Hero series, a cash cow of a franchise that Activision ran – effectively taking down the entire music instrument genre with it – into the ground.

The truth is that developers and publishers are completely terrified that you’ll forget about their franchise that they almost feel obliged to put out a new iteration every year. Where this fear has come from, I don’t know, but maybe it’s a consequence of the saturation of the market. Never has a generation seen so many yearly releases. Why do you think that gaming has broken into other mediums now too? You know, comics, books, films, whatever. The other side of the industry will say it’s fan service. It might be fan service on some level, but it’s basically just good business. The business of making money. The business of making consumers become so invested in their products so that they want to buy everything associated with it. It’s a lot of effort to ingrain a franchise so deep into your psyche, but it’s all part of the bigger picture: it keeps the franchise fresh in your mind.

"Ubisoft actually sunk three years into developing ACIII."

The yearly iteration model no longer means I look forward to many titles. I used to love Call of Duty, but stopped playing years ago. I used to love Assassin’s Creed, but I’m no longer itching to get my hands on the latest iteration, even though it’s looking like the true sequel we’ve been pining after for quite some time. Instead, I find myself resonating towards newer experiences. Dishonored sits firmly on top of my most wanted list for 2012, followed closely by XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Hitman: Absolution and even Far Cry 3. Okay, so the latter two aren’t particularly fresh or original games, but they’re franchises that have been out of the limelight for so long that they almost feel like new franchises. That comparative freshness means that we’re likely to appreciate the franchise more now than ever.

It’s an approach that Rockstar and Bethesda have absolutely nailed with their major franchises. The anticipation that surrounds the likes of Grand Theft Auto V these days is unparalleled. Merely a handful of screenshots can set the internet alight with fervour. It’s mind boggling, but it makes perfect sense. I say that because if you starve people of information and releases of a title that's as culturally all-encompassing and wide-scale as GTA is, then everything that comes out is more valuable and sought after. Gamers, consumers, whatever you want to call us as an audience, are human-beings, after all, and we’re more likely to appreciate something that we consider rare, rather than something we see every bloody year.

It also means that great evolutions are made from one title to the next, so even if you didn’t particularly enjoy the previous iteration, enough has usually changed during that period of time to give you an altogether different outlook on the franchise. The same can rarely be said for other annual titles. It also means that developers can listen to user feedback from previous versions and actually have the time to implement it into their next outing, which is something fans can get behind. Will Rockstar have read the reactions to GTA IV with a magnifying glass? You can bet your bottom dollar they will. Whether they actually took those reactions on board however, is anyone's guess. But at least they’ve had the time to listen, come up with fresh ideas and better yet, actually spend the time developing them. You know what they say, right? Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

"Who can honestly say that they're not excited about GTA V?"

Plus, buying a franchise title every four years, we can all afford that, I’m sure. Even if you’re still in school and using the money from your paper round to fund it. What’s that? It’s an 18+ title? Oh, of course… Stores don’t tend to care about age ratings now, do they?

It doesn’t necessarily have to just apply to just the yearly iterative model either and can extend somewhat to the biennial model too. Whether you’re talking about Dead Space, Mass Effect or whatever, it could be argued that given more time between releases, their impact might have been greater. Mass Effect is a good example of this. By the time Mass Effect 2 came out, it was roughly 30 months after Mass Effect 1, whereas 3 was just over two years… I was more excited for Mass Effect 2 than 3, weirdly enough. Arguably, the jump from one game to the next in terms of general quality took a bigger stride forward from 1 to 2 than it did from 2 to 3 too. Use that observation how you see fit.

This whole sense of disillusion with franchises generally has nothing to do with quality though. If I ate steak every day for every meal for a year, I’d be sick of it after a while and surely want a break from it… If you take a break from steak though, you don’t generally have to catch up when you pick the steak torch back up and run with it. Take a break from a yearly or biennial released title and you could have bitten off more than you can chew when you do finally jump back on the wagon.

"Oversaturation killed Guitar Hero..."

So, is there a sweet spot? Honestly, we’d argue that three years is the ideal sweet spot. There is going to be three years between Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 3 and the differences and improvements between them look to be overwhelmingly positive. There was also three years between Borderlands 1 and Borderlands 2, and look how that turned out. Positive improvements were made, it was every bit better than its predecessor and we missed it that little bit more than a biennial title that when it finally released last week, we flocked in our millions to buy it – the official figures aren’t in yet, but every man and their dog is playing it, which is usually a good initial indication. That’s a triple-win right there, folks.

It’s also a feeling that I have to say is exclusive to this generation. Am I getting more cynical? Is this a sign of me getting older? Or do you, like me, have similar feelings about certain franchises reaching a point of saturation? Are you burnt out on certain franchises or are you content with the current model? Do you hanker after new experiences above and beyond everything else? Are you happy with the yearly iteration model? You know the score, sound off in the comments and let us know.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 0
Comment #1 by rad2791
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 02:01:26 PM
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Quality might also be a factor too. A game that's taken several years to complete is always going to have more depth and soul than one that's taken a mere twelve months to make.

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Comment #2 by mjc0961
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 05:47:15 PM
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I don't really play any of these yearly iteration games, so I can't say it bothers me any. You can still see it a bit in the bi-yearly games, though. You can see the steps down Uncharted 3 took from Uncharted 2 quite easily, especially that asinine plot with the random pirate bullshit and Chloe and Cutter dropping off the face of the earth. I can't help but feel that the game could have been better if Naughty Dog hadn't forced themselves into that gimmicky "11-1-11" release date. Good for you, your release date is all 1's. Too bad the game has a feeling of being rushed surrounding it. And of course, the article already mentioned Mass Effect 3, and we all know about the horrible ending where 5 years of choices were flushed down the toilet and you're instead forced to pick a color.

I do stop to wonder why Nintendo suddenly went from releasing Mario platformers once every few years to doing 1 last year and 2 more this year. Last year we had Super Mario 3D Land and this year we have New Super Mario Brothers 2 and New Super Mario Brothers U. What the hell is this about, Nintendo? Not that I'm complaining too much, but you're just giving the haters more ammo.

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Comment #3 by DarkStar83x
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 06:42:57 PM
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Nice read. Yearly releases are hurting the game industry. Quality suffers and it eventually becomes the same game with a slightly different coat of paint. Unfortunately, as long as they are profitable, there's little chance it'll change.

Forum Posts: 199
Comment #4 by ER777
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 09:09:32 PM
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I agree. I'm not a fan of this sequel spamming that a lot of franchises are doing now either. It just becomes overwhelming to me after a certain point.

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Comment #6 by MUTTONSTACHE
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 01:33:00 AM
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Huge fan of Assassin's Creed franchise but Brotherhood was my limit of interest in Ezio's story. I will skip Revelations and give AC3 a shot. They are milking AC a bit to much. 3 year cycle would be a nice pace.

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Comment #7 by Baron Bonk
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 04:36:46 AM
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Compliments for the well written piece! I do agree to a certain level. I do understand the arguments of saturation and limited improvement with yearly releases. Nevertheless, I myself almost never buy a game at release, but always wait for the price to drop. This combined with a long list of games I still want to play, makes that I can easily dose this kind of franchises. For example, I played AC: Brotherhood in january, and will probably won't touch Revelations anytime earlier than spring 2013, due to the current pricing of the Ottoman Edition. Though I also feel the excitement thing. Revelations on my list got me less hyped than for example Batman: Arkham City or Uncharted 3.

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Comment #8 by c1ned1ne
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 09:27:14 AM
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What you miss is the focus of most of this games: Multiplayer.
Except AC all this games draw their main interest from competitive Multiplayer and so they're far more likely to sell on an annual basis than a strong SP game. Especially if you consider the server policy of EA.

A bright side of yearly releases is you pretty much know what you'll get whereas lots of long-sought-after-games are mercilessly overhyped and tend to disappoint quiet a lot of people (as lately seen with Diablo 3) either justified or because of nostalgia goggles.
Also not every iteration needs something new. If you refine the gameplay and focus on what's great about your game, it's often more than enough to please your fans.
As long as there is such a high demand and every CoD breaking records, we won't see a change anytime soon.

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Comment #9 by idloveacupoft
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 @ 02:57:28 PM
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absolutely agree with most of this. I'm done with games like fifa, tiger woods, CoD, etc....I will get the new AC game simply because we're finally onto a new propect :) It only took 3 games XD

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Comment #10 by FatMachismo
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 02:11:30 AM
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Working in games retail makes you see this so much as well.

The thing is the big yearly releases still sell well, every year you have the same people buying the same game. I play a lot of what comes out, and man I've been sick of COD since Black Ops. Mind you, I still buy them because I always have a what if feeling that the game might just have something that catches me. I always enjoy them, but I feel myself trading it in sooner each year.

Farcry 2 to 3 is also going to be four years btw.

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Comment #11 by mjc0961
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 03:40:03 AM
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@8: Diablo 3 is a bad example because it was vaporware for a long time. Games like that never live up to the expectations that people give them after waiting so long.

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Comment #12 by pfagan10
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 05:22:57 AM
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Well written piece, thank you. Ive got to admit, i think im hitting a brick wall with this generation. I cannot afford to buy game after game, so usually when theres a spell of good games coming out (e.g. Sep-Dec) I join a rental site so i can dip in and out of the franchises I play. I have to say ive only played Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 and F1 2012 of this years iterations and I cant find myself to pick up the controller and carry on. Posted back after 2-3 days each. The thought of going through 30-minute races with essentially the same physics as last year, just a new paint job doesnt appeal. I am an Xbox and Vita owner, and think ill be focussing on the latter until the next generation...where I will likely move to PS4. Going to try Resident Evil and Assassins Creed. I think Creed 3 will be an exception to this rule, as theyve sunk so much time into it. Id expect Connar Brotherhood or Revelations to start to feel samey in a year to 24 months time. I think AC3 will be excellent!

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Comment #13 by Soulslayer434
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 04:39:21 PM
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Sports games are the biggest when it comes to this, thats why NHL 13 will be the first NHL game I got since NHL 09.
I am sadly the owner of cod's 4-8 and got pulled into the addictive game but now feel like only playing 2 out of the 5 games, and will only be buying black ops 2 because of zombies.
I thought Brotherhood was a good improvement to AC2 but Revelations failed as they only added few minor details (that i wasnt even a fan of). I hope the sequel to AC3 is AC4 and we have to wait atleast 2 years for it.

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Comment #14 by Mellenthin
Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 08:07:41 AM
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It seems like the number of franchises only grows, for reasons you've already mentioned. It's much easier to write a story and cut the game in as many parts you like opposite to invent a new story, world and characters and everything that comes with a completly new title, not to mention cheaper.

Uncharted, Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Dead Space etc etc, no title today worth mentioning has at least 1 sequel. This is not always bad since before mentioned games, in my opinion of course, are all great. But as you say you don't want to start playing the last installment and for every game in a series you begin playing, the mountain of games you need to finish can quickly become staggering, especially if you tend to platinum your games.

I would say that you should simply stay away from franchises you have no intesrest in. Personally i will never touch any sport related franchise or racing for that matter. But regarding the ones you do find appealing there is no real way to circumvent as I see it, which in truth shouldn't be problem if the franchise in question is good enough however that is a question only yourself can answer.

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Comment #15 by Totavier
Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 05:38:03 PM
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Another good read, yeah i notice this some years ago, in my opinion i think that is for the fact that the companies (some of them not all) in this days don't try anymore in make the games with something new, they use the concept of: "original is over", or "this new feature was a success?, we'll focus more this in the sequel!"

One example is Uncharted, the first game was amazing, great love, funny characters, great landscaping, etc..., the second game was far better, another great plot and plus an excellent multiplayer mode (something new and "original")

But... what happened with the third one?, the story was good but too short and with a lot of questions about the new characters, some chapters was only of enviroment without gameplay and the multiplayer was the same (in others words "the original is over"), and the worst part the DLC was the same thing: focus in multiplayer (unlike the Assassin's Creed series where at least we get a story expansion) like the previous game (in the others words "this feature was a success we'll focus more in this")

Don't know what others things can happen in the future but if this is the road that maybe every game follow (i don't think that this happen) in create every year a "copy/paste" game, well... i'll don't spend more money in videogames and i'll be done

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Comment #16 by skinfanfromIL
Friday, September 28, 2012 @ 08:53:36 PM
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Personally, I am burnt out on bi-yearly releases as well. They are basically the same game, but not as rushed and copy and pasted as the yearly releases.

I am getting pretty close to not caring about any sequel.

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Comment #17 by WelshSheepLuv
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 04:21:37 AM
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Well wriiten piece. Throughly agree with the sentiments expressed. Unfortunately nothing is going to change in the short term because ultimatley,the games industry is run by business name and not gamers.

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Comment #18 by AshtimusPrime
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 10:47:04 AM
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A well written and thought out article.

I only play Call of Duty out of the yearly games mentioned, and from a fan point of view, you can get burned out. I might get Black Ops II, but its a low priority.

Two or three years is about right, but from a development point of view, that doesn't necessarily make a great working game (Bethesda!)

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Comment #19 by Keyser Soze
Saturday, September 29, 2012 @ 08:43:13 PM
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Definitely agree with this article. I haven't been a big fan of the yearly release schedule for a while now. I haven't bought Madden or any other yearly sports release since '07. CoD is one of the worst offenders, as mentioned. I'm in Gamestop and the guy behind the counter is trying to badger me into preordering the game. I kept telling him I thought the game was getting stale and his big sell was "But dude, you get to ride a horse in this one!" Great. Way to improve the series. I thought I was the only one getting tired of Assassins Creed, but after reading all this I don't feel so bad for not playing Revealations yet.

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Comment #20 by LabGnome
Sunday, September 30, 2012 @ 03:17:42 AM
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Never really was on the band wagon, but I have always been concerned because of how it can effect the rest of the industry.

I am too into novelty to ever entertain regular release titles that offer little change. I am too into novelty to play multiplayer games enough to hit the point where they get competitively fun. So, I have always been secretly pining for people to just get sick of them (since I assume games I like would be made more if resources weren't going to these).

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Comment #21 by mattybell2117
Sunday, September 30, 2012 @ 11:13:51 AM
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@#1, not necessarily. Look at Duke Nukem, 12 years or something and that was terrible. The yearly iteration thing is just stale with sports games because they're the same thing year after for the most part. Even though I don't like the yearly iteration thing, Call of Duty, Need for Speed and Assassin's Creed more often than not make awesome games. Sure they're released yearly but as long as they're good, who cares?

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Comment #22 by pattywhacker
Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 03:02:18 AM
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I feel it's a little more acceptable for sports games. The rosters change every year, and people want to play with that updated version of their team. Sure, you can go into the player/team editor and just do all the changes yourself, but it takes a hefty effort.

The way I see it, if you skip a year or two of a sports game, you don't feel like your missing out, so you shouldnt feel obliged to buy every iteration, whereas your COD's and AC's you miss the story and so you do feel obliged. I happily miss years of FIFA and just buy every 2 or 3 years. The roster has changed significanty enough in that time.

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Comment #23 by nitnoid
Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 03:07:30 AM
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I think most people are confusing the 'Yearly iteration model' with big franchises that produce a lot of sequels. Madden started it all but it was because rosters change each season and a game like this needs to reflect the changes. Most sports games would fall into this category.

However, Call of Duty, and I don't care if you say there's a difference between Modern Warfare or Black Ops or WHATEVER, its still the same game each year! Just the story is different. Maybe they tweak the mp a bit but still a yearly iteration.

Assassin's Creed, while not necessarily yearly since the first, is a big franchise and has gotten stale because of the 2nd one having 2 sequels so close together. With sequences missing in 2, being offered up as dlc later, is just plain wrong. AC3 is the only breath of fresh air that series has had in a while.

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Comment #24 by TfT02
Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 10:43:13 AM
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Yeah this is so true, I can't believe why anyone would think gamers forget about their franchises. I mean common? HalfLife episode 3 anyone?
I'd argue that if you keep everything secret and have at least 2-3 years between releases you will get way better games and perhaps even more sales. Look at-like mentioned in the article- GTA V and recently released Borderlands 2.

I sincerely hope that game studios will take notice of this problem and will change their model (or don't change over to the iteration model).

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Comment #25 by TfT02
Monday, October 01, 2012 @ 10:45:37 AM
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I would also like to mention that Ubisoft has different teams on Assassins Creed III and the two sequels of Assassins Creed II. Likewise, Activision has to teams for Cod, Treyarc and whats left of Infinityward

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Comment #26 by SoPoF
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 01:10:31 AM
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Hm ... I don't know. If I really love a franchise, I wouldn't have an issue with yearly iterations IF they are good. I also don't have much of aproblem with "more of the same" sequels if I like that specific same. Not every game has to reinvent the genre.

The feeling of having to play all the installments in a series, I know too well, weirdly, it has kept me from playing games simply due to time. But it doesn't really have to do with how often he series pops out a game.

And just recently, I somehow got excited for Far Cry 3 (usually not my genre, but I like the setting and open world games) and remembered I liked Far Cry on PC back then ... so I bought Far Cry 2 off the PSN store ... big mistake. I played for like fifteen minutes, then quit and uninstalled. Not saying the game is bad, but ... I don't know, maybe not in the mood for it. And now I'm not even sure about Far Cry 3 anymore. Too much games to play anyways.

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Comment #27 by Psx0005
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 02:38:44 AM
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Very thoughtful and honest view, and hitting a lot of points that is becoming more and more prevalent with the cash cow that videogames have become for the companies out there looking for more revenue.

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Comment #28 by jarethgeason
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 11:43:20 PM
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Good article agree on it but it still will never stop me buying these yearly games though as they just to good not to play

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Comment #29 by Sitorimon
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 09:00:24 AM
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I'd rather have Bi-yearly with DLC updates for the years inbetween.

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Comment #30 by Taktikzade
Thursday, October 04, 2012 @ 07:52:52 AM
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I'm a FIFA player, I play it online, ALOT.. I buy the game every year, and almost every year it's more or less the same.

I don't see why FIFA don't just bring out a FIFA every 3 years or so, and just update the squad lists for 3 years via patches. So after a season is over and the transfers have been done, instead of having to bring out a new FIFA, just update the squad lists. I wouldn't be too bothered.

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Comment #31 by Pinhead
Thursday, October 04, 2012 @ 09:57:50 AM
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Great read

I kinda expected the introduction of DLC this gen to introduce games that would have a core release and yearly DLC updates, eventually with an option to buy original game + all up to date addons for a bundle price.

Sadly haven't seen that happen yet, closest thing was probably when Capcom released the 3rd version of SF4 and owners of the 2nd version could buy an upgrade to V3 as DLC, but I had imagined fighting games with their endless version releases benefitting from this as well as EA's sports series.

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Comment #32 by poetic_justice_
Thursday, October 04, 2012 @ 10:39:38 PM
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Really appreciate the article. I feel the same way. Battlefield, Killzone, and COD kept me coming back to PS3. I have done 100% on every Killzone and Battlefield game to come out, platinumed all CODs minus MW3, and now.... I'm tired. I want a break.

Tossing grind-a-thon multiplayer trophies onto a rehashed campaign a la AC Brotherhood, AC Revelations, etc. hurts game players and trust in companies. I disagree with the "step down" in quality from Uncharted 2 to Uncharted 3 - Uncharted 3 was amazing, and I think Naughty Dog is one of the few companies getting sequels right. Seperate the platinum to the campaign, and the multiplayer trophies to the DLC. God knows how many of us are sick of grinding multiplayer trophies just to platinum or 100% a game. Show some originality - especially you, Rockstar, EA, Activision, and Ubisoft!

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Comment #33 by FootballPsycho
Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 01:43:13 PM
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I'm inclined to agree. There are too many games for me to play so I'm forced to pick one franchise over another and if the franchise I chose not to play soon after release has a ton of sequels making the franchise impossible to catch up on. It's a shame really. I don't want an Assassin's Creed or Need For Speed every year. It's too much to handle in the short time frame I have to game.

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Comment #34 by TmanIam
Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 04:30:53 PM
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There have been a number of great games released in the past couple of years that for the most part didn't sell well because they were released around the same time as one of the annual release games. A lot of those games had online modes which could have been fun had more copies been sold and people were not putting all their online game time into the yearly COD release. Sad to think that some great original and innovative ideas have been lost and overshadowed due to this annual release trend.

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Comment #35 by starcrunch061
Friday, October 05, 2012 @ 05:15:58 PM
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You know, as a die-hard GH fan, I never understood why people were bothered by yearly releases. It's not like there's a story - you could essentially think of each release as a very large download or add-on. You weren't required to buy it to understand what happened next. Now, the pathetic servers were another story, but I didn't mind all of the releases (and I bought every one).

Other than that, I agree with the article. When EA declared that Assassin's Creed would be released every year, I cringed. I've heard the titles are still good, but I don't care. Square's idea to release a FF every year is also cringe-worthy.

Here's an idea: make a good game. Don't let people get lazy, but don't drive away your talent with ridiculous demands.

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Comment #36 by MakaiOokami
Sunday, October 07, 2012 @ 01:50:25 AM
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A very long way to say... People need to stop buy games made every year unless there's a compelling reason to buy them. Very few companies can get it right, and most don't.

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Comment #38 by Naylord
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 @ 06:57:50 PM
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Assassins' creed games come out so often and drop so steeply in price that I've been a full year behind every iteration since 2. This has caused me to be able to pick up the games for around 10 dollars each time. It's working out pretty well for me

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Comment #39 by kraven_15
Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 03:16:16 AM
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While I don't care for yearly released games as a concept, I think people are forgetting that the gaming industry is stil a money making industry. While many gamers don't like the idea, the plain fact is these franchises make money.
If these franchises sucked, they wouldn't sell and they'd stop. But, ALOT of people enjoy them and buy them. Soooo, as long as the demand is there they will continue. They're not going to stop making cod games coz a few people have lost interest. When u sell 500 million dollars worth on a single game, a few disgruntled gamers doesn't mean anything. And really, nor should it. Clearly those who oppose yearly franchises wholeheartedly are in the minority and u don't start changing your business model because the minority is unhappy.

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Comment #40 by starcrunch061
Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 03:04:47 PM
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@kraven: No one's arguing that they make money in the short term. But when that demand dries up, it often dries completely, leaving the comparny bewildered as to why they're going belly-up. The goal of any company should be prosperity, but there should be a long-term aspect to it.

Your business model retort sounds smart, but it's much more complicated than you suggest. For example, if Square had simply looked at FF XIII as a product in itself, it should do nothing but praise it. After all, it sold, what, 6 million copies? XIII-2 should have been a slam dunk. And yet, sales fell over 60%, and Square reverse-decimated its revenue forecasts.

Demand is a fickle thing. Any economist will tell you that. And any tech firm that looks to demand on a previous product as a guarantee for future success will be out of business quickly.

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Comment #42 by eli1277
Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 05:00:48 AM
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You said every man and his dog is playing Borderlands 2, that is not true. I have not even played the first one let alone the second one :) Either way I agree, yearly titles get boring and stale and do think they should give it more time in between releases of new games.

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Comment #43 by LukeyCow
Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 09:17:31 PM
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Yearly iterations do need to stop, especially some franchises that shouldn't be like Assassin's Creed and Ratchet and Clank which is basically another one. FIFA, COD and NFS will probably never stop though as they have been yearly iterations for years. Assassins Creed used to be my favourite series, 1 was meh, 2 was amazing and brotherhood was epic. Duno what happened with Revelations though as it felt stale and it felt like I was playing a game growing mold. It was rubbish and clearly shows the lack of effort for these games. Take FIFA, add a few new players, pitches, features and a few modes and your good to go (Not that much can be added but anyway) and not only this, your forced to buy it because the servers go down a year later... COD adds a new crap story, changes between modern and other every year and adds half the roster of new guns and its a new game... really rubbish. I despise them all although ill probably still buy AC3 like everyone else to fuel this yearly production but if its like revelations i wont be getting the next one. It ruins franchises

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Comment #44 by vikebone
Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 12:25:31 PM
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Great article. I agree 100% that yearly iterations are too much. Unfortunately, as long as they continue to sell publishers will continue to put them out(case in point Call of Duty sets new records every year).

I personally don't want the same game year after year with minimal changes. I get much more excited to buy a game that is far superior in every way than something that just adds a minimal amount to the story or a few new guns.

If a game is good, publishers won't have to worry about us forgetting about it; we will eagerly anticipate a new sequel even if it takes 2 or 3 years. That just allows more time for people to play the first games too!

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Comment #45 by Adzer2
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 @ 03:56:06 PM
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I don't think developers worry about you forgetting about them, take for example Skyrim, the last Elder Scrolls game before that was 4 years earlier. And that didnt affect sales for Skyrim at all.

If a company really wanted to increase the gap between releases they could spread out the release of large QUALITY DLC products, so around 3-5 months between each of them.

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Comment #46 by Cromag2
Friday, October 19, 2012 @ 06:12:40 PM
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Right now most of these yearly games are essentially a $105.00 endeavor if you include 3 to 4 rounds of DLC (which is another whole gerbil on the wheel argument!) and its just too much to try and keep up, I have only rented the last three COD for a few weeks, got behind on AC and like the author just cant seem to get motivated to grind thru them all, its just too daunting now... I long for some originality, we might be stuck on this formula for a while I am afraid.

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Comment #48 by sthenurus
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 06:24:00 PM
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I don't think it's a new phenomenon. The megaman game came out every years back on the NES, and so did many other games. The sonic games on genesis, the crash bandicoot and spyros, the tomb raiders on ps1... and lets not forget the sports game that are yearly since the mid 90. I don't think it's a new trend, i just think we got old enough to see it.

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Comment #49 by AllxnB
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 08:12:56 AM
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This game has been with me since I bought the first in 1994. I may have let the franchise dip out of my consciousness from time to time but I always came back to it. from Amiga to PS to PC I found myself coming back to it every few years and enjoying it. Terror from the deep and its later iterations damaged the franchise but the original was still there (Even bought it again on Steam a few months back for a fresh hit)

Come back almost 20 years later and the fidgety excited feeling is back, the nervousness that they will kill an awesome game again.... Demo first play.... not sure.... Demo second play, I could quite like this.... Demo third play.... Yep lets trek round every store locally to get a copy ;)

So the point, Make a great game and you will sell your product no matter how long you wait to release it. Release every year and it becomes repetitive and boring. So £40 for a game, X-Com or CoD.... X-Com. Start of 2013 Bioshock Infinite or Cod.... Bioshock.

CoD may be just as good but I prefer a fresh flavour rather than the same one regurgitated every year ;)

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Comment #50 by Sioraf as Na Cillini
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ 04:49:35 AM
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FIFA games have been around since 1993, I've been around since 1992 but only 4 FIFA games really stand out to me; 97, 2000, 2003 and 2005. Even though there's every FIFA since 2003 in my house I think one FIFA every few years would be a better idea than one every year. That way every FIFA would be memorable as opposed to only a few and the rest being forgettable because not much is different.

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Comment #51 by forestluke
Friday, November 02, 2012 @ 05:56:10 PM
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Like it or not, trophy hunters feel this more than most, lets face it, some trophies aren't fun, and if your like me you usualy leave these to the end, that can really take the wind out of your sales when you finaly get that plat, making you wonder if you really want to do it all over again next year, for the majority though, this is less of an issue just because they don't play the game to that extent.
If a new release of the game you completed not a year ago doesn't excite you, then your choice is clear, DON'T BUY IT, more over, don't wory about it, just because it has a tv ad and everything, and ign are plugin the s**t out of it for a few dollars, doesn't mean it's worth your hard earned money.
The ps3 has loads of awesome and original titles to choose from, not to mention a load of older games you might have missed first time round.
Look a bit deeper at the games that are out there, find something that interest you, and don't get too hung up on trophies and completing series of games that you liked once but have since got bored of.

Play games for fun and the trophies will come, play game for trophies and you may get bored........ Just know i'm right.....right.

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Comment #52 by Bill
Sunday, November 04, 2012 @ 01:56:36 PM
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Beauty in the truth

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Comment #53 by Akibakuma
Friday, November 09, 2012 @ 12:11:11 PM
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Big business is the problem. Back when gaming was young, it was controlled by passionate developers. Now it's controlled by corporations. Corporations are Machiavellian - if it turns a profit, the ends justify the means.

Iterations are, as the author here stated, a great way to keep the franchise around; a way to keep your spot on retail shelves RESERVED.

The sad part is that publishers/developers feel pressured into putting less time in quality control in order to guarantee a game hits in time to be competitive and relevant. Like I said before, market bloat is the real villain, and the efficient corporations who think about the money more than the game.

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Comment #54 by dante_kinkade
Friday, November 09, 2012 @ 07:13:53 PM
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As long as the story is good and the game is fun, having a chapter come out each year sounds good to me, after all life is short.

That and so far I have loved every single AC game that has come out and am waiting to get three, I even hope to see them make another one for next year with a new person replacing Desmond.

But yeah I like having a new game of a series that I love each year and not having to wait several, hey sure though if there are problems or if someone does need the time to prefect something I can see them taking longer, but if not then whats the hard in a year and not like it is anything new.

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Comment #55 by maur1c1o
Sunday, November 11, 2012 @ 06:39:37 AM
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I disagree with this if you love a game then there's no issue i understand football games having a yearly release it makes sense and maybe their price should be slightly lower than a game that take 3 or 4 years to make i just finished mass effect 3 and already want to play mass effect 4 the sooner the better life is short and a year might not seem like a long time but it is a long wait when you cant wait to play a game you love or a sequel also the problem here is the trophy and achievement whores who cant keep up with the amount of releasing because they spend their time grinding achievements if you play just the games you enjoy and love then there's no issue in my opinion and there's no reason why a game should take more than a year to make especially when you already have the ground work laid out from the previous ones we are so lucky and spoilt for choice and yet people moan lol do what i do and don't spend your time playing shit games just for trophies or achievement and if a game is shit then don't play it i love trying new games and i know what genres i enjoy and after playing a game for 5 hours if i don't enjoy i get rid it so i have time to play the shit i enjoy. and to the people moaning about Mass effect 3 ending get a life there's nothing wrong with it if you want your decision to affect the ending then go outside and live your life computers are limited and you have to be an idiot to buy into it that's your decision will impact the story its very limited come surely we all new that you either take path a or b come on its pathetic mass effect 3 was a awesome game and nothing wrong with it. People just like to bitch about everything as for COD i don't play it but its a great game i finished MW that's about it as i don't enjoy game based on war but it was graphically stunning and the game-play was smooth as you like as for online don't go there all this moaning is a joke i mean you moan when a games takes forever to be released then you moan when they release them on a yearly basis lol Get a life LOSERS

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Comment #56 by PeterSmith82
Thursday, November 15, 2012 @ 12:24:41 AM
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I'm one who got burnt out on COD after playing MW3 and every COD since COD 4. Finally I said "That's it I'm done with COD unless Activision re-invents the Franchise. I stuck to my word and sold MW3 and won't be picking up any more COD's. If Activision didn't release a new COD every damn year I would give COD anougher shot. It's the same game,same graphics and same MP and Activision won't do anything to improve the series so they aren't getting my $$$. All Activision cares bout is $$$. Same goes for Halo. I have better games to play than to waste my time on COD.

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Comment #57 by twyz
Thursday, November 15, 2012 @ 09:47:43 PM
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Agree with this 100%. (except Far Cry 2 & 3 are four years apart)

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Comment #58 by kraven_15
Sunday, November 18, 2012 @ 11:25:44 PM
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@ starcrunch91... Sorry, didn't see ur reply.
I'm not sure how final fantasy 13 fits into the issue above. I'd have assumed that ff13-2's losses were based heavily on Japan's and elsewhere too's disappointment at the liniarity, which in essence stepped away from the traditional style of the game.
Final fantasy itself as a yearly iteration I believe is quite successful. I'll continue to buy every ff I can because I thoroughly enjoy them.
While I can understand the point of what's been said and the arguments people make against the yearly model, I don't think it matters all that much. If people are against it, just don't buy them. Black ops 2 just brought in 500 million. Now, while this is not going to happen to every game, it's happening for that one. Same with FIFA. Even if a bunch of people stop buying them, they will always be in demand.

There are occasion where the model has failed and so the company stopped. NBA live for example hasnt been released for two years.

Bottom line though for me is that I remain unaffected by it. I only buy games I want and if they happened to be released yearly I'll buy them. If I'm not enjoying the series, I won't. In not upset that they exist, it's no concern of mine. I'm never going to play Hannah montana but I don't care that it exists. If the yearly model is out there and people are happy, so be it... If ur not happy, boycott. Noones twisting anyones arm.

Finally, not all games that take time to be released are going to be awesome. While I found duke nukem fun, I wouldn't say it resembled 12 years of effort. Anyway, I'm happy no matter what happens :)

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Comment #60 by xLightning2112x
Monday, November 26, 2012 @ 04:30:09 AM
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Eh, at least the annualized franchise tag only applies to an extreme minority in gaming. Be lucky that most developers/publishers aren't resorting to it. But, in the case of ACIII, it may be annualized -- but at least they create a massive open-world game with loads of content as opposed to a five-hour corridor shooter with some a heavy focus on competitive multiplayer.

Forum Posts: 165
Comment #62 by scabab
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 10:04:54 PM
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A 2 year gap between sequels is big enough for me, I ain't a fan of yearly gmes either. The Uncharted games had a 2 year gap, Batman Arkham City came 2 years after Asylum etc and they were all good.

Forum Posts: 45
Comment #64 by oxley420
Saturday, December 01, 2012 @ 09:05:32 AM
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Whenever i buying sports games i usually get 1 every 2 years. As for AC i wait half a year and walmart sells them for $20. There is so many games to play i havent even touched Rage,Sleeping Dogs,Dishonored. AC3 (but I got sick of them) . EA also rushed out the Skate series way to fast by the third one I was getting bored with it. Now that im a plus member ill be buying less games at release and wait until they are on PSN for half off or free.

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Comment #66 by lporiginalg
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 01:30:16 AM
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The only game on this list I've played more than one version of is Assassin's Creed and I have to agree with the sentiment. I've already skipped over AC:Revelations because two full games of AC2 was enough for me. Kind of interested to try out AC3 but will wait for the price to drop.
You're bang on about GTA5 tho. This is the first and only game I've actually been excited for in my adult life and will be the first PS3 game that I am willing to pay full price for to get it at release time.

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Comment #67 by AsukaLSoryu
Sunday, December 09, 2012 @ 05:53:12 PM
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Great talking points, they're taking quantity over quality because a yearly iteration (sometimes it feels like a reiteration!) yields more profit.
I'd like to say it's all short term, but look at a franchise like Call of Duty: a new one gets put out every year and it's always the same thing, yet tons of people swarm and pick it up. It's unfortunate just how geared to profit games are becoming as of late, they've become easier and in some cases dumbed down to accommodate people of younger ages. I'm grateful that, for now, there are still games out there that require strategy and wit to complete as well as a strong determination-- Dark Souls comes to mind. I fear the worst for gaming as a whole, I truly hope I'm wrong.

Forum Posts: 34
Comment #68 by Shad0w
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 02:31:10 PM
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Great topic. Call of duty is probably the best example of this "problem" . If u take the multiplayer for example, it's been the same ever since mw1 and basically the only thing that changes r the weapons, even the challenges on mw3 were copypasted from mw2! Makes me wonder why these games get good reviews.
Longer development time suggests that time has been put in to improve the game and add some new ideas, which is exactly the thing we need. Sequels aren't a bad thing themselves as long as time is taken to make it feel fresh. Bioshock infinite is definetely one of those games I am looking forward to. Instead of just playing it safe they decided to feature different environment, character and they kinda took the "risk". Something I'd like to see more often.
One more thing to point out, I'd be a lot more worried about those games that r always released on time, than those that r delayed by few months or weeks. I am a lot more happy to wait a bit longer than to play glitchy and unfinished game.

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Game Info
Rockstar Games
Rockstar Games


US September 17, 2013
Europe September 17, 2013
Japan October 10, 2013

Resolution: 480p, 720p
Sound: Dolby Digital
Players: 1
Online Players : 1-16
ESRB: Mature
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