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Annual Game Releases: Ubisoft Only Speaks The Truth

I've been saying this for years, but it's nice to see a publisher put it so bluntly.

Gamers always whine about "annualization;" i.e., the practice of releasing a new entry in an existing franchise every year.

There are several points to this argument that most of them forget but for the time being, let's just look at what Ubisoft told Edge concerning their wildly popular Assassin's Creed series:

"We are able to offer people a new Assassin’s Creed every year because they want Assassin’s Creed every year. As long as this is true we would be very stupid to not satisfy this need, but it puts a lot of pressure on us to create something that will never disappoint."

Yes, exactly correct. They produce one every year because we buy it every year. If we didn't, they wouldn't. People also usually forget that each game takes much longer than a year to produce; multiple internal teams take several years to make a new entry. For instance, this year's Assassin's Creed: Unity took over three years to make. Even Call of Duty, with two main development teams, trades off and each title gets two years. This generation, with Sledgehammer added to the mix, each iteration will get three.

But that's all irrelevant, really. We buy 'em, so they keep making 'em. It's really that simple. Don't like DLC? Well, quite obviously, a lot of other people do, because it usually sells. Don't like microtransactions? Companies seem to be making an awful lot of money on that business model, so... Look, companies are in business to make money; if they get it, they'll keep doing what they're doing; if not, they won't. In fact, they can't, if they want to stay alive.

All these things everyone supposedly hates? Either everyone is hypocritical and is either buying them one minute and turning around and disparaging them the next, or the ones who do buy each new annual release and all the DLC are just staying quiet. Either way, it's all on us. We have nobody but ourselves to blame.

Tags: ubisoft, annualization, annual game releases, assassins creed

3/29/2014 11:01:59 AM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (20 posts)

Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 11:42:03 AM

This is true and I've always wondered if the ones whining are the ones buying. Honestly these games sell millions and millions of copies, but at the same time it's still only a fraction of how many consoles have been sold.

So maybe half the gaming community is griping about annualization while the other half is buying Cod, Ac, Madden, etc..

Personally I don't own any of these games, not due to release frequency, most of them just don't tend to be in my play style. If games like Ni no kuni, ff I-XII, Majin and the forsaken kingdom, Infamous, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, if these type of games were released annually and they retained their quality, I'd buy them as quick as I could play them.

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Norrin Radd
Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 12:05:50 PM

I've never whined. I love annualization, DLC AND microtransactions! Why? Options. I am NOT required to purchase any of it. Do I? Some. I've purchased almost all of the DLC for Borderlands 2. I like pre-ordering as well to get DLC included that I might otherwise have to buy if I didn't.

But the bottom line is choices - I like having options. Game makers make games and content that sells. Period. Sometimes pricing models don't work and they are scrapped. How many MMOs have gone free to play because that's the way they can make money? Will ESO go free to play some day? We'll see. But I wouldn't rule out.

In any event, I'll side with options.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 12:16:55 PM

AT first i thought when i saw the Assassins creed Unity trailer i thought this will be Great.But after seeing the screenshots and hearing more details this might not be a step forward for the assassins creed franchise in terms of innovation.

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Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 10:50:01 PM

At some point, innovation reaches it's limits.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 12:35:21 PM

It's just like "Gawwwwd" every time they announce a new one though.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 1:58:11 PM

Well when the install bases of the consoles consists of millions of people, is it really that surprising that a large fraction of those consumers seem to buy practically everything that gets released?
I'm sure there are plenty out there who whine about dlc and annualization and actually stick to their guns, they're just outnumbered by those who apparently have an excess of time and disposable income.

In the case of AC I was super pumped for black flag, since I love pirates and ship battles, but other than that I haven't bought an AC on release since the very first 2.
I skipped Brotherhood altogether and just watched the cutscenes on youtube, there are too many of them to care about every single one.
I'll most likely get Unity eventually, but so far there is nothing exciting about it to make me have to have it at full price.

COD on the other hand I haven't even touched since the first modern warfare.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 2:12:59 PM

Some people like to complain. I prefer to use my dollar(s) as my vote.

Last edited by Teddie9 on 3/29/2014 2:13:47 PM

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 2:15:27 PM

I don't blame myself.
I stopped buying AC games and CoD games for years.
So I've done my part.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 3:04:24 PM

Agreed. I have done the same.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 3:32:21 PM

I'd guess roughly 80% of people who play games don't post on game websites, and only buy CoD and Madden every year, or the like. The 'casual gamers' that get bashed on this and 99% of game related websites.

So I really doubt many people are being hypocrites, so much as it's just Ubisoft/EA/Activision creating a business model that works based on the overall numbers, not the people who care enough to talk about it on the internet.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 5:43:06 PM

Well, of course.

I just happen to know many people who say they hate DLC and microtransactions and yet, they've bought both in the past.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 4:09:37 PM

I've heard AC4 is great. Used to be my favorite franchise of the generation.

I have yet to buy it.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 @ 2:53:33 AM

no, we have everyone else to blame.
you can control your actions, but you cant control the actions of everyone else.
well you can, but swooping everyone up and putting them in a underground bunker may not go down very well........
typical publisher though, its not our fault, its yours.
its about time these suits took some f*cking initiative and for once in their life put the needs of their product, before the needs of their wallets!

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Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 10:51:53 PM

There are more than just the needs of their own personal wallets at stake.

I am sure their investors wouldn't take very kindly to them not making millions of dollars anymore.

Also, these are still real people working at these companies, if the companies fail to make money, people lose jobs. That changes lives.

At the end of the day, it is the people at the top of the company's job to look after the interests of the company as a whole, not just themselves, and not just gamers.

There is no reason what so ever for them to stop annualization at this point, not when a title like Black Flag was one of the best AC games in the franchise, as thought by MANY of the series' fans.

This year is going to be a turning point for Ubi and Assassins Creed. Will 2 titles a year prove too much? Will the quality of each game take a hit due to the reduced focus on the one?

Last edited by Akuma_ on 3/31/2014 10:53:40 PM

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 @ 5:29:05 AM

yeah i get it but that doesn't mean that i'm not interested the AC based in the french revolution but then again i don't support DLC anymore or micro transaction but yeah i'm gunna try really hard not to support tis crap that is erroding the interesting

happy gaming =)

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 @ 7:22:22 AM

Well it's not like they'd make Assassin's Creed every two or three years if people quit buying it, they just wouldn't make it at all.

Personally I buy a grand total of zero annualized franchises.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 @ 6:09:45 PM

People want it all. They want great games yearly. They want these great yearly games to be better than ever. They want more via DLC, but don't want to pay for it. They want what microtransactions offer, but don't want to pay for it.

Then they bite the hand that feeds them. You didn't make a great game. You put too much of the game in DLC. Too many microtransactions. Ridiculous.

Don't want so much added content? Get people to stop buying it. Don't like yearly games crapping out? Allow several years between games to pass. This is basic economics. Supply and demand. You keep demanding it, they'll keep supplying it. How dare you complain that they supplied what you demanded.

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Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 6:59:55 AM

sadly agree with that, and I'll add that if people never bought useless DLC like a new costume for 1$, new fighting game character for 3$ or new map or race track for 5$, thse would have stopped, they'd be free or very cheap

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Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 12:39:49 PM

How much does it cost a studio to make a new game?

Now, how much does it cost a studio to make add-on content for an existing game? Especially when it's a new outfit for a character, and not even new content (levels, maps, whatever)?

Even if only 10% of their customers pay $1 for a new costume, that's probably a lot of revenue compared to the cost of throwing it together. When we buy stuff like that, we encourage more being made - and it doesn't matter if "most" players hate it if the studio doesn't need but a small percentage to buy it in order to turn a profit. If they get their 10%, or whatever their target is, they're happy even if 90+% of us are not.

Annualization is a trickier issue. For me, the time frame doesn't matter one bit - it's all about execution.

If they release a game that just sucks because they didn't have the time to put into it, then it will hurt the franchise overall and harm sales of the next in the series. So they have incentive to release a good game - at least not an awful game. But if it's just "more of the same" and people are bored because it's not different enough...I seem to recall a conversation like this about Infamous Second Son - if you like the series and want more of what you like, then what's the problem with another in the series that feels like all the rest? That's only a problem if you don't like it, or are bored by it, or they do a bad job and don't deliver.

Personally, I really like Madden. I buy one every five years or so, on the discount rack (will have to get this one, after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl) after the season is over or the next one is starting. It's good enough, generally, and I generally enjoy the leap that five years brings you. But since I put so little into it, EA won't care what I have to say - they're more eager to please the players buying the new release before it hits the stores, because they're the ones who will affect profits. I, and people like me, aren't even a blip. That's the downside of voting by not buying - you don't get listened to much, either.

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Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 10:57:27 PM

My biggest concern with voting with my wallet, is that instead of changing the direction of the games, they will simply stop making them altogether because they will draw the conclusion that that game doesn't make money anymore.

Look at Dead Space, the third game lost it's way and didn't sell well. So now it's effectively on hold indefinitely.

I don't want to stop playing Assassins Creed, it is one of my favorite franchises, I love the end of the year game period half because of the new AC game coming out.

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