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Do You Want Your Favorite Franchise To Practice "Annualization?"

"Annualization" is a big trend these days. For those who don't know, it's when a publisher releases a new entry in the same franchise each year.

Obviously, Madden and other sports titles have been doing this for a very long time, but this generation, we've started to see the trend hit the biggest franchises in the industry. This includes Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, and the ill-fated Guitar Hero (for a while, anyway). Now, there's no doubt that AC is a fantastic franchise and ACIII will likely be a Game of the Year contender. But most gamers - and some developers - have spoken out against annualization, as it obviously doesn't give designers enough time.

Of course, ACIII has apparently been in development for three years, and each CoD might take around two years, as Infinity Ward and Treyarch trade off. But as name-brand recognition becomes more and more important to the mainstream, you can bet that game makers will continue to try to pump out more titles in their most successful franchises. Most are against the idea, but here's the question: Take your favorite game series and ask yourself if you wouldn't want to see a new entry each and every year. Would you really be against it? Or would you be willing to put up with some small sacrifices in terms of innovation and progression to get a (mostly) new adventure every year?

Personally, I'll take the break. I never wanted a new Final Fantasy each and every year. It did me good to know that Square was working hard and long on the new installment. And by the way, this era of instant gratification has generated legions of deprived individuals who don't know the pleasure of waiting for something. You know the old saying, "The anticipation of getting something is often better than actually getting it."

Tags: annualization, video games, gaming industry, gaming culture

4/15/2012 9:11:21 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (41 posts)

Twistedfloyd
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 9:36:39 PM
Reply

I'd rather have a break. I like being hungry for something before it comes out. I'm excited for ACIII, but don't consider it a must buy because of the annualization of the franchise. I missed Revelations because while I liked Brotherhood, it was more or less a glorified (yet very fun) expansion pack of AC II.

Even though AC III looks awesome and it's been in development for a while, I don't feel like I need it for a while because the franchise devalued itself with the annualization thing. It's just too much of one thing can wear a franchise out.

I love having to wait for a new MGS or a new Twisted Metal because the anticipation builds until you explode and when you get your hands on the new copy, it's a victory within itself. I love that aspect of franchises like that who build before a new installment is released. Too many releases will eventually catch up to a franchise (Guitar Hero an example). I'm glad most of my fav franchises (minus AC) doesn't do it.

Agree with this comment 11 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 9:56:10 PM

That's the problem, after a few years people just stop buying them and say "That game can wait" cause you get a little burned out.

Agree with this comment 11 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Mog
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:24:40 PM

Yeah, its like final fantasy versus 13.
I was excited for it when I first heard about it and saw the trailer, but now I'm just over it completely because it has been far too long.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 11:55:11 PM

That's the exact opposite Gunblade

Agree with this comment 8 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 9:55:19 PM
Reply

Oh my God, you just reminded me that now that Final Fantasy is dead I no longer have a favorite franchise.

But if Final Fantasy is what it was, I'd take one every year. However that means it would be an all new adventure with all new characters and all new greatness every year. Unlike those other franchises you listed...

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Temjin001
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:04:23 PM
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Generally, I do not like annualization of my franchises. Legendary games should be able to stand alone in the spotlight for a good amount of time if you ask me, without needing cyclic renewel. And in the case of, say CoD and AC, it feels way too familiar hopping from one game to the next in sort short of time. I really don't know if I'll ever "get into" AC: Revelations,

Last edited by Temjin001 on 4/15/2012 10:15:32 PM

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Russell Burrows
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:09:28 PM
Reply

Ties to remember something about a franchise that used to be relevant but now is just diluted by too many sequels???

.......hmmm Final Pokemon?? no,no maybe it was Fantasy Pickachu???.....no,no maybe it was Resident Shotgun??, no,no?? hmmmm no???
Oh well nothing of value really lost??

Now back to a game that really has me interested:
Dust 514!!!!!!

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Killa Tequilla
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:23:44 PM

The Last Of Us! I like that title.

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Killa Tequilla
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:22:27 PM
Reply

I like it when a game is announced say... 2013 and I have to wait till 2015 for release day. The waiting is the best part! Helps me stay a gamer in some ways. But then again... I keep asking myself, "what has become of Agent?".

Agree with this comment 3 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Palpatations911
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 10:26:26 PM
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I like annualization if the title is good. However, I don't agree with charging $59.99 for games that have minimal updates and only had a 4-6 month development cycle (like NBA 2K for example).

2K is my favorite game but every year I can tell that they just took the old game and modified it. They throw in a few new animation and a few old ones that were used from several games back.

At least with CoD it is a brand new campaign every time and brand new MP maps and they usually try to throw in new game modes. HOWEVER, back in my PC days we would call that an "Expansion pack" and it would be $20-$30 instead of $59.99.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

telly
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 10:46:45 AM

That's what drives me nuts about sports games -- it's such bull s**t to make you buy a whole new game every year instead of offering updated rosters as cheap DLC. It's the single biggest reason I'm not into sports games despite following and loving a lot of professional sports.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Palpatations911
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 @ 12:39:40 AM

I hate it too, but alas..My favorite game is NBA 2k because I am such a freakin' basketball nut that I get it at midnight every year

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Rogueagent01
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 11:29:54 PM
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For me annualization is a horrible idea. It is why I stopped playing sports games in the mid 90s and now in hindsight I am happy I did, as those games have progressed at an extremely slow rate, pretty much nothing but roster updates anymore. Innovation is one of the major factors I look for in games and that is why I could never jump on the annual bandwagon.

I don't care what franchise it is I would most likely stop buying them after I realized that they were gonna release one each year. The only people it benefits is the publisher, EVERYONE else loses.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

BigBoss4ever
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @ 11:30:51 PM
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one simple word - big capital letter "NO"!!!! period.

Assassin creed is ruined that way, first two were great, since the third one, feeling more and more like more of the same, it is always this "more of the same feeling" kills great franchise and get people fed up with it... if not anything else, at least it kills the fresh feeling. so stay away of this trend, PLEASE.

Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 4/15/2012 11:32:59 PM

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Jed
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 12:06:23 AM
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I agree with everyone else on this one. Assassins Creed is one of my favorite franchises, but the annualization made it seem to rushed and repetitive. The "hunger" that others have mentioned is one of the reasons it feels so good to play a game once it comes out. If its been a few years since you've experienced a game, you somewhat "rediscover" the story, and even have feelings of nostalgia.

Having a new game every year gets rid of the originality of the games, and sometimes cuts down on the quality. I would rather wait a few years to play a new game just so I don't have to worry about the game being compromised because it is rushed.

I'll be more excited for AC III than I was for Brotherhood or Revelations.

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karneli lll
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 12:14:12 AM
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Its all for the shareholders, big releases spike those share prices and gives CEOs something to brag about each year. Personally i think its bogus but as long as there are gamers who rush out to buy these yearly products; the trend is only going to increase among game companies.

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Dancemachine55
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 1:18:55 AM
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No! Just... no.

Uncharted every year? Quality would be no where near as good as we know it now, and it would completely kill the franchise.

This is applicable for all franchises.

Also, I would not be able to afford all of the new games I want to play, spacing them out gives me time to buy them and play them.

By annualizing every major game franchise, I would have to give up on some of the good franchises I like playing in order to afford and make time for the great franchises that are my favourites.

Take note publishers, annualization will kill your franchise. The only time it won't is if your game sells in the millions and is popular with both core and casual gamers.

Guitar Hero died, CoD will eventually die, but Mario, Metal Gear Solid, Diablo, Starcraft, Gran Turismo, God of War, Zelda and many others still sell millions 15 years later, because the developers and publishers take their time to create a high quality game that everyone will want. Annualization will kill that.

Now, if you have 3 or 4 different studios working on a new entry in the same franchise and each one releases a new entry every year, giving them 3-4 years to work on each title, THEN you might be able to get away with annualization. Only EA or Activision would have the funds to resource it though, and that's troubling.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

frylock25
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 1:31:04 AM
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with call of duty getting 2 years between each companies releases i feel that they should have longer campaigns. 4 to 5 hour campaigns with 2 year development cycles seems like a joke. i get the multiplayer is a big deal but the single player should be just as big a deal. uncharted 2 and 3 were like 10 to 12 hour single player games with great multiplayer also. those were only 2 years between games.

assassins creed 3 is something i look forward to very much. i have bought all of the games so far used and later when they were cheap. except for revelations which i got like a month ago or something for half the price new. ac3 i do plan to get new and full price. something about ac that i love and cant get enough of. that being said. if ac3 disappoints or the have another game the next year i dont know how i will feel about another game.

if rockstar started pumping out gta games i have no doubt that quality would suffer.

i will always take quality over quantity.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Beamboom
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 1:55:37 AM
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I can't think of a single franchise I would have wanted a yearly release of. Not one.

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Lawless SXE
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 2:01:16 AM
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For this one, I'm going to say Valkyria Chronicles, and I'd certainly be up for a new entry every year BECAUSE there is almost nothing else like it on the market. Nothing springs to mind as being reminiscent of that experience from a gameplay perspective and to be able to experience that with alterations, a new story and new characters each year would be fantastic.

However, Uncharted and inFamous? No. Not because I don't think that they'd remain awesome, but because there are other games out there that are comparable to them, and I'm happy to use them to occupy my time while waiting for the one that is destined to blow me away. It's as simple as that. If it's novel, I'd be happy and if not, whatever.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 2:44:39 AM

Uncharted would get bad really fast. They already had a pretty substandard story going in part 3.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Lawless SXE
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 3:48:58 AM

I agree that UC3 wasn't as good as the first two in regards to the story, but if ND were to put both of their studios on the series in a COD-like development scenario, it might work. Would never want to see it, but it could work.

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___________
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 4:35:55 AM
Reply

some yes and some no.
some games need a few years to be as good as they could be, other games spending more then a year is just a waste!
games like mass effect would be impossible to make in a year!
however games like your mindless shooters, well, thats a whole other kettle of fish.
its actually a good idea what antivision do with the COD series, have several developers working on it that way not only do you have one releasing every year you also get a different style of the same series.
treyarchs games are very different from IWs, but there still in the same genre, same series.
its nice to get a familiar experience you want, but also something completely different at the same time.
something ubisoft has managed to do really well with AC brotherhood and revelations.
some series suit being released every year, others dont it just depends on what the series is and how it works.
i certainly would not want to see ME become a yearly franchise, but something like resistance or killzone, or even twisted metal, something more basic and linear i dont see why not.

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Ludakriss
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 6:07:35 AM
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Final Fantasy is my favourite franchise. Bar-none! and of course, please exclude the current gen production of those games.

I do not want the yearly releases if 13-2 type garbage is to come of my anticipation and devs' work.

Focus, find out exactly what you want to throw at your fan. What's the challenge? How is this game different? Are you keeping the same formula? Mechanics?

Focus, innovate, hope for the best.

Yes. I realize that last sentence says innovate while I disliked 13. But I also added "hope for the best". The outcome is just a stand alone event.

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Excelsior1
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 7:17:15 AM
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Absolutely not. There are a very few select games(FPS multiplayer focused) that can get away with annualization, and the consensus seems to be that quality suffers even in those titles.



Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Russell Burrows
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 7:27:46 AM
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An ANALyst proposes a yearly dose of crap??
Hell! NO!!!

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Dante399
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 8:15:31 AM
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I would have to say NO, I don't want any of my favorite franchises to get annual release. Because I'd rather have a better game and better quality than to have the game in April every year. Let the devs decide when it's time to release their games and do not pressure them, they have enough burdens already.

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xenris
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 8:37:27 AM
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Nope. Take my favourite game and I don't want it annualized. Make a complete feature rich game, and release one like that every 3 years. I think 2 years is rushing it honestly. The only way a game can get away with being made in 2 years is if it is ONLY a single player game or ONLY multiplayer.

Annualization is a cash grab. Its so the publishers can keep making profits for shareholders. Mind you its not as devious as the DLC model but its still pretty bad. I wish more publishers would have the, "its done when its done" mentality. However frustrating that is we end up with a superior product almost all the time.

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Highlander
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 9:40:28 AM
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'Annualization' is a terrible idea. All it leads to are questions about the value of the game, and reviews that say that it's just more of the same.

Sports games already do this and have done for a while. There is at least some reason for annual updates in sports games since players and rosters change with each new season. However I feel that those games and that kind of situation demands something slightly different. Such games ought to be about a one time purchase of the game at $60 with 1 free year of updates, and then $30 a year thereafter for game and roster updates. The point being that the game itself doesn't change much, and in reality people are playing the same game, year after year, with new player rosters. So perhaps it's time to be honest on those games?

But for story led games like Uncharted? No, annualization is a simply horrible idea that will burn out a franchise in the view of fans and reviewers alike.

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xenris
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 9:51:49 AM

Yeah, I agree. If you annualize franchises you will end up running them into the ground. It's sad that CoD has managed to get away with this for what 4 or 5 years? But even that giant will fall eventually.

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telly
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 10:39:51 AM
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God no. Even releasing games in consecutive years one time is a bad idea in my experience -- the first Left 4 Dead was really fun, and then the sequel came out 12 months later and my friends and I lost interested in about half an hour. We could care less when part 3 comes out now. Waiting and anticipating helps you appreciate games (and everything else in life) a lot more, PLUS it gives developers the needed time to actually rethink and improve and evolve their games.

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Ershin
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 10:51:23 AM
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I say they don't "improve" the engine, but just release a $25 expansion (essentially what the "new" game is), I'd be ok with that on most of my faves. Definitely not a full-version release though.

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BikerSaint
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 11:01:37 AM
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To me, annualization is the fastest way to devalue a game franchise.

My short version........"NO"

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Laguna
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 12:33:01 PM
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For some reason I have doubts that ACIII has been in development for three years.

Is it bad of me to be so cynical?

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Underdog15
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 12:51:55 PM

Well, it is being developed by a studio that hasn't given us anything in a good number of years, so it's certainly believable.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 12:54:09 PM

I'd say it's common, I'm pretty sure it has been worked on this whole time but that just means they had other teams pumping out filler for the in-between years. Annualization creates cynicism.

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SnipeySnake
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 5:11:19 PM
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I'd say every 2-3 years.

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Raze22
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 5:20:13 PM
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I don't care, just as long as the games don't suck. If they do, then they need to take more time to make the game.

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Trixta09
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 10:02:41 PM
Reply

Ok look, two of the best known games are currently losing their value:

Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed

Call of Duty was one of the most original shooters out there. So much that other shooters like Resistance and Gears of War were passed up just for COD. Today I'd rather play 007. Assassin's Creed was one of the most game changing experiences ever. It hasn't burned out as much as COD but it definitely loss some of its quality due to annualization. As a fan of both games, it disappoints me that these developers have taken these directions and are still blind of the results. All they see is money, money. I say all to say this, you ask me if i would want some of my fav games like GTA, Red Dead, Twisted Metal, Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, Uncharted, God of War, and Resident Evil to be annualized here's my answer. FUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mr_Sterg
Monday, April 16, 2012 @ 10:46:33 PM
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Please NO!!

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Gabriel013
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 @ 1:25:13 AM
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No thanks to Annualisation. Part of the reason they are my favourites is because they don't release every year and I know the developer have invested quality time in them by how improved they are in successive releases.

Although I enjoyed all the AC games, I can see a deterioration in quality across the releases due to the frequency.

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