PS3 News: Is Ubisoft Really Guilty Of "Annualization" With Assassin's Creed? - PS3 News

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Is Ubisoft Really Guilty Of "Annualization" With Assassin's Creed?

I've been thinking about this: When we speak of "annualization," that means we're referring to franchises that see new entries every year, like Call of Duty, Madden and Assassin's Creed.

And it's certainly true that we've seen a new AC iteration every year since Assassin's Creed II released in 2009 and in fact, with the original launch in 2007, 2008 was the only year where we didn't get a new AC game. However, is this really the best example of the controversial "annualization" process?

Thing is, most every time they announce a new Assassin's Creed, one thing jumps out at me from the press release: The fact that the project in question has been in development for several years. So it's not like they spend only one year making a new series installment. And in truth, maybe it's unfair to apply the "annualization" tag to CoD as well, as Infinity Ward and Treyarch have been trading off this entire generation, which gives each team two years - not one - to make a new Call of Duty.

At the same time, maybe it can be argued that innovation and creativity must, by default, take a hit if the publisher continues to push their developers to have a new franchise iteration on store shelves at the end of every year. That much is obvious. I'm just wondering if, considering how many people (8 teams and possibly over 1,000 employees) are working on Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, we can really complain about a lack of effort. Sure, David Cage and other visionaries frown on the practice because perhaps true greatness and originality take time.

Even so, I think we need to take a closer look at this "annualization" label.

Tags: assassins creed iv black flag, assassins creed 4, aciv black flag, ubisoft

3/14/2013 11:14:00 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (22 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:29:08 PM
Reply

I don't play the series nearly enough to form a solid opinion. But I will say I like periods of absence with any series I enjoy (Uncharted, FF, RE, Silent Hill)

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Temjin001
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:38:14 PM
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I've always thought of it as a marketing term, not a production one. That is, yes, we've always known that games like CoD and AC have longer than a 1 year development span. But it's the constant advertising and in your face presence of an ip that I think gets tiring to the more 'play for the experience, something new every time,' homogeneous gamer types. Those who don't want to keep seeing and doing the same sort of things for too long. Something CoD and AC are challenged to achieve. So this year it's AC with pirates and ships. Next year it's space ships and martians. Fans of the game play who really like AC and COD for what they are I'm sure will be pleased to get more of what they enjoy. Those of us who get tired of seeing an experience 'annualized' can look elsewhere.

There's never a doubt now that something CoD and AC will show up in time for the holidays... heck they should just get their own holidays now (hey, if it means no school or work I'm ... GAME ;)

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Temjin001
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:43:23 PM

and another thought. I'm not a big fan of using quilted teams to create a game. That being having several teams piece or patch together the final product under different roofs. I think that inherently creates problems. I suspect that reason has something to do with AC3's bugginess and uneven design.

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JDC80
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:38:47 PM
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I don't get bored with AC they change enough of the gameplay from game to game to make each title feel different from each other(even during the Ezio trilogy). As long the story is solid and new gameplay additions I have no problem with them dropping titles every year.

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JDC80
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:50:53 PM

Secondly after what went down at the end of ACIII I want to know what happens to the team.

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Cabalavatar1
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 11:43:03 PM
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Aside from Assassin's Creed: Revelations, every iteration of the AC series has produced a successful narrative (for the historical figure; the Desmond story arc is continuously tiresome). One can say that the combat doesn't change too much, but I'd say that about any series (Uncharted, God of War); they tweak it, but not too much. AC always has enough familiarity to keep me eager for the next entry and simultaneously enough innovation to keep me intrigued while playing.

Considering all that Ubisoft continues to pump into each game, I really don't mind the annualisation. About the only thing that this process does negatively, IMO, is halt original IP production (as Mr. Cage argues). But it really does change how I'm going to buy games: perhaps I shouldn't feel so compelled to invest each year in the AC franchise and (with limited time and money) not others; however, I wouldn't want to give up on more of the gameplay that I always love.

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Yukian
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 1:07:24 AM
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I haven't seen a Final Fantasy since 13 so there's no annualization and I shouldn't worry of sequels or abominations...

Getting all serious again, AC has only suffered story-wise with Revelations, they have kept it interesting. I do understand that having an AC annually is exhausting but I haven't bought any on release so I'm not that affected.

And ACIV:BF has pirates so every argument is invalid. :p

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gungrave
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 1:32:37 AM
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I've enjoyed the series. I've skipped the spin offs. Part 3 was cool, but the with this new game announced...has me feeling burnt out on the series. Now a franchise like Bioshock has me really pumped. If it weren't for AC3 changing it's settings, i never would've bothered.

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Beamboom
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 1:48:31 AM
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I've never thought of "annualization" as something that took a year or less to make, only that it is a franchise that releases a new title annually.
Are there any examples of an annualized game that took less than a year to make for each iteration?

The problem with annualization is that the games of the franchise are released too rapid.

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daus26
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 3:49:09 AM

Do you know how it works for annual sports game? It may be a bit irrelevant, but now I'm curious if these sports games take a less a year of development time.

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Beamboom
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 4:32:51 AM

I was thinking about the exact same thing when I wrote this comment, Daus. Are perhaps the sports games an exception? I don't know!
I think we need to google this. :)

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Twistedfloyd
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 5:01:54 AM
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I don't think it's the issue in terms of they didn't spend enough time on the game. All of these games took multiple years to develop, however, it falls into the same trap as COD does (COD utilizes a similar plan as Ben mentioned in terms of switching developers), in that they oversaturate the market.

Think about it, new AC game released in October. At the end of the month mind you. And not even five months later we already have information and a trailer about AC IV? I mean, it's crazy. There's no build up, there's no excitement because at least for me, I know longer crave AC the same way I did after II because there's a new one either being announced or released every time you look over your shoulder.

AC IV looks sweet, but I have no intention on playing it for a long time, just like with III and Revelations before it (I have not played any of those yet), because there's a new one every year and they're constantly talking about it.

They don't give the previous iteration any time to breathe because they're already moving forward with the next project.

It's just downright crazy to me. I liked AC more when it was one team. You could really tell the differences in II and in Brotherhood in terms of they felt like they were made by completely different teams. There's not enough cohesion between II and Brotherhood. Yes same character, a continued story, but it just all felt rushed. The gameplay was slick, but the story was forced and almost non existent in many respects unlike the well told story in II.

Too much, too much, too much. And the thing about AC is that it's so unique and such a well thought out concept that really grew into greatness in II, but now is just getting so overplayed and force fed, that despite the tremendous efforts by the developers, Ubisoft as a publisher has turned me off from the series just because there have been so many releases, and no build up to the new releases.

I lose my mind when there's a new Uncharted, or a Metal Gear announced because it's usually been two to three years since the last one. There's a build up. There's consistency in the story and feel because it's the same directors and developers working on the game (minus rising or other spin offs, I'm talking about the core titles).

AC lacks in this and will eventually lose its popularity, IMO. We've seen it with many IPs in the film and gaming industry. It might not happen this year or the next year, but soon, I predict AC will be taking a holiday. A very long holiday because of the annualization. No matter how you slice it, annualization eventually equals people getting tired of something if it's annualized for too long.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 8:28:18 AM
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yup.

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telly
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 10:42:56 AM

It's not the relatively fast development cycles that bother me so much -- I'm sure Ubisoft works on the games longer than 12 months a piece, has multiple teams plugging away on various installments in the series at any given point in time, etc. It's just way too much exposure for any game series to come out that often. We are all constantly being bombarded with more Assassin's Creed news, now all year long, and every fall there's another one. They're obviously making lots of money off of this strategy, but I don't like it one bit.

In short, I'd rather go crazy waiting for the next Metal Gear than get sick of playing them year after year.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 11:05:00 AM

Me too Telly, even if every dev can make a great new experience and have it come out yearly that leaves no time for fans to digest the last one or theorize and get hyped about what might be next. As an old school dude I find that important to the overall gaming experience.

When there's always another one coming around the corner you start to care less, whether that's games or anything else it's just human nature and I don't think it's sustainable. CoD so far succeeded because it grabbed a certain peculiar demographic that plays almost nothing else all year anyway.

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Kryten1029a
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 11:30:35 AM

It's just too much. I looked at the Wikipedia entry on the series and counted 12 entries since 2007 spread across multiple platforms! TWELVE SMEGGING GAMES IN FIVE YEARS with the release of Assassin's Creed 3.
They may be taking their time with each installment, but I don't think that anyone can argue that they aren't flooding us with Assassin's Creed content. Don't misunderstand me, most of them have been at least good, but you CAN have too much of a good thing

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wackazoa
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 10:34:59 AM
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Well yeah Ben, once you make the first game you already have the template for the second game. So in honesty you could produce a game today, put out another gamer 1 year from today, and claim to have worked on it for two years.

Thats what always makes me shake my head at annualized games. Say the first one is great, the second and third should also be great. But often times they are not. So where does the quality go? Is it that the first was just new, so therefore we classify it as great?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 11:05:58 AM
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This is one point for Japanese game devs, yes they take a long time but whatever they put out it tends not to be stale.

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PHOENIXZERO
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 1:08:41 PM
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For me ACIII was a total disappointment from both a story and gameplay standpoint and the game's issues with bugs/glitches didn't help, it was rushed out before it was ready with half baked ideas didn't reach their potential if they made it into the final game at all.

ACIII was the first game in the series I bought on release and it'll be the last as the Assassin's Creed is going back to being a "I'll get it when it's cheap" game. I'll probably get the PS4 version when I get the console a year or two after launch if I get it at all.

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PSTan
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 2:29:40 PM
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Assassin's Creed is my favorite franchise this generation, so I may be a little biased.

I've rarely seen a problem with annualization. As long as a game is good and delivers on its promise and then some, I see no problem with playing a new installment every year. And to me, every AC (yes, even Revelations) has done so.

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PC_Max
Friday, March 15, 2013 @ 4:02:08 PM
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Well if devs what to suggest gamer/player fatigue... annualization of games may just do it. The way the market has moved in the last few years, well its really all about money and for devs to make bigger games they have to do it in a shorter time period to recover costs.... if they can. I suspect if many more go this route some devs may disappear all together either swallowed up by publisher or just closed for business.

Personally I think game series should be kept to 3 games, a trilogy. If they want to do spin offs in the same universe, do so, but make it a completely different game that maybe somewhat is related to its parent.

I do agree time is needed to develop a story for a game and then actually bring it in to fruition. I think thats the best approach, but some games that have had plenty of time have ended up being major disappointments.

Its odd but I have started to look more at the indie games now for entertainment and just plain enjoyment.

I think we as gamers have really been spoiled with the number of games that have come out last gen and this gen. Yep, many generic games, but definitely some gems. Ideas must be tough for the devs these days so the easy route for them I guess is to stick to a familiar formula and maybe add an additional ingredient to spice it up. Too bad.

Keep Playing!

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Freedom Or Fire
Saturday, March 16, 2013 @ 9:53:26 AM
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Say the word "annualization" to Rockstar Games and they will laugh in your face. "Huh,whats that?". So if Ubisoft is ramming the Assassin's Creed series down our throat,which they obviously are, I don't see the problem with that if the game is done well and gamers continue to eat it up. Strike while the iron is hot.

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