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EA Boss On Dead Space 3, Benefit Of Annual Franchises

EA has been on the update path lately and now, CEO John Riccitiello talks about everything from the new Dead Space to the benefit of annual franchises.

In speaking at the 2011 Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Riccitiello first confirmed that the publisher had shipped 2 million units as of February 1, but that number doesn't tell the whole story. He says the best measure of the title's success "is what the sell-through has been and Dead Space 2 compared to Dead Space 1 in a like number of weeks, has been about double, a little more than 100% growth." He went on to mention the company's "strong, growing franchises:" Madden, FIFA, Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. He is currently excluding Dead Space because they need to wait until the third entry before the series enters that magical 5 million-unit realm.

After reconfirming EA's license extension with the NFL, Riccitiello expressed his high hopes for Battlefield 3 and added that he makes no bones about it- he wants EA to have "market leadership i n the first-person shooter business." Then, he talked about a hot topic recently: the annual franchise concept.

"There's a great thing about an annual franchise, whether it's us or our competition. When you've got that annual franchise, it's a meal ticket. You can generate a great deal of income. One of the problems with an annual franchise is you don't take the time to reengineer the underlying code base, so it is, if you will, as next generation as it can be. So we think there's a window of opportunity here. We've been investing for three years to build this next Battlefield 3 game, [and] I think it will stand up as the best product in the industry this year. And we're going to get at 'em."

From a business standpoint, that certainly makes a lot of sense. And let's not forget that, based on the evidence, EA really does strive to put out a quality product. Just look at that list of "strong" franchises; it's pretty impressive, no?

Tags: ea, dead space, battlefield, dice, ea nfl

2/16/2011 8:52:19 PM John Shepard

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Comments (49 posts)

BIGRED15
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 9:45:41 PM
Reply

haha first. battlefield 3 as the goty? hefty statement there hope they can back it up. EA's really been making some good stuff so we'll see

Agree with this comment 3 up, 15 down Disagree with this comment

Lord carlos
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:13:24 PM

Don't type first,its kinda lame

Agree with this comment 9 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Gordo
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:10:18 PM
Reply

Nope, as soon as things become annual I start to lose interest.

Assassins Creed 2: Loved it. Not bought Brotherhood.

COD/MW: You've got to be kidding! Once bitten twice shy...

Dead Space. No way am I buying annual installments! How many times can one guy get trapped by the same aliens? It's not Die Hard...

When they start doing that to Mass Effect then thats it for me.

Killzone3/Uncharted3. Looking forward to those since there has been a nice gap which means I have played the last ones to death and it has given them enough time to do some meaty development.

18months or two years is the sweet spot in my opinion.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:45:47 PM

Me too, when you hear a franchise will be yearly you know it won't be improving. Best to just avoid them until you got nothing else to play and find it cheap.

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Beamboom
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 5:19:39 AM

Well then, why not buy every third release then? If that is what you want?

If they released Mass Effect every year, *and* kept it at current quality level or higher, I'd just say "bring'em on baby, keep your story writers busy!"

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 5:27:37 AM

Beamboom:
You've hit the nail on the head. An annual franchise will inevitably stagnate. A series must improve on its predecessors, and annualisation doesn't really allow the jumps one needs to not only stay ahead of what you've done, but also the competition.

I'm sure that if a yearly series could continually improve, and make changes significant enough to make it seem as more than a reskin, then no-one here would have any objections. But, what are the odds of that? Besides, regardless of quality, everyone needs a break every now and again. People will always skip certain iterations if they don't feel that they will live up to expectations (or at least sane people will).
Peace.

P.S. Sorry if this is a bit garbled, I'm about to go to sleep and am not feeling particularly coherent ATM. Perhaps I shouldn't 'net before bed.

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Lord carlos
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:25:43 PM
Reply

Don't care if they keep pumping out annual sport games but keep your greedy corporate fingers away from Dead space,it deserves better because the developers actually care about what their working on, and not just making a new yearly piece of boring drivel.
"Ok there lads and ladies thats a wrap on PGA Tiger Woods 2012!!" (Cheers)
"Right so...lets get started on 2013....Any ideas???

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SvenMD
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:26:23 AM

Thats exactly what I think. You can pump out as many sports games every year as you want. But for REAL games that need stories, amazing new locales, and true advancements....it just doesn't work.

DS2 was perfectly timed and it turned out to be a freakin' great game.....Keep it that way!

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playSTATION
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:41:14 PM
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beside sports games i wouldn't want annual releases. i am already sick of assasins creed. don't think i will be getting the next one.
my 1st call of duty was mw2 and it will be my last.
uncharted and killzone, those are every 2 years or so which is good.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 10:44:33 PM
Reply

So Battlefield will become the next CoD eh? Well at least there was improvement from 1 to 2 and apparently to 3.

Whatever, at least I don't see Bioware being forced into this with Dragon Age or Mass Effect, those games take time. And Visceral is a pretty small studio so an annual Dead Space is out of the question.

Starting DS2 tonight, can't wait!

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Dancemachine55
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 11:06:02 PM

Try not to s**t yourself in the first chapter. Scariest game I've played next to Silent Hill 2.

Nearing the end of Dead Space 2 myself. Am loving it!!!

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Shams
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 11:15:22 PM

DS2 is a bloody good time. I thought it would've lacked the special something being a sequel and more of the same, but no.

EA's done good with Visceral. Amongst their franchises, Deadspace is easily my favorite.

I'm on chapter 8, and I must also say, DS2 has a fairly, challenging, normal, difficulty level, relatively speaking. You WILL have to conserve ammo, med and stasis packs, pick and choose your shots carefully, reset to your checkpoints/save-points etc...

Tip: Stasis is amongst the first things you should fully upgrade. You'll be using it a lot, especially later in the game, which will save you ammo, and life. It replenishes with time, unlike other things.
Boost your hp on your rig some which will help, too. People recommend upgrading the line gun first, and while it is beast, I've used plasma gun, javelin gun, and the mine deployer more often. But using stasis, and dropping a couple of line gun mines will destroy just about any enemy. I had three enemies jump at me, after getting off a lift, I froze them just in time, set a Line gun mine, scurried out of the way, and watch them splatter from a safe distance away. Good stuff. Still nearly scared the sh*t out of me.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 11:52:45 PM

Sweet, thanks for the tips Shams. I'll probably start on normal.

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MadPowerBomber
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:28:50 AM

Stasis is key! As is the alternate upgrade for the javelin gun. :)

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SvenMD
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:33:20 AM

@World - you will be amazed, I'm sure.

@Shams - You're getting to one of the best parts in the game...and I guarantee you will walk slower in Chapter 10 than you've ever walked in a game before....it will scare the hell out of you the first time.

I'm currently on Ch 13 of Hard Core, using just the Plasma Cutter and Contact Gun...currently have 200,000 credits, so I dont think the end should be too tough.

Good luck guys - hope you have as much fun as I did. :)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 11:10:18 AM

I played a bit at midnight with the lights out, very happy with this game so far. There is lots of freshness and thank god it is still creepy as hell. In my opinion a good survival horror game needs to make you a paranoid player, and DS2 accomplishes that. I can see why the scores are so high.

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Shams
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 3:32:46 PM

My pleasure, World, glad to be of service. Yes, the paranoia element is key. Although, in the sequel, we have a better idea of what we're up against, and the experience being a less isolated one with more characters, through hallucinations, and not knowing who's on your side (or even what side you're on), the suspense is retained in the story.

I came in thinking the story would be weaker, but I've been pleasantly surprised (and not-so-pleasantly frightened) so far.

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Shams
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 3:38:31 PM

That's hardcore, Dr.Sven. I'll have to give the contact beam a try. So many options and alernatives, it's hard to know what to stick to and upgrade. I see you've opted for surgical precision. I suppose that's the best way to go at max difficulty.

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Kiryu
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:29:39 AM
Reply

Yakuza Series is the only series i can think of where they release an annual entry but with each entry they make such big innovations.
You guys will see the amount of improvements they did from Yakuza 3 to Yakuza 4!

Last edited by Kiryu on 2/17/2011 12:35:30 AM

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main_event05
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:56:31 AM

Which one has the zombies??

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Kiryu
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 1:07:06 AM

Yakuza of the end currently releasing in japan on march 17th.It's not Yakuza 5 it's a spin off .This type of game has never been done before.A third person shooter with had to hand combat in a open world city,with an engaging story.
I think this is the first time i will like zombies in a game!These guys will make even zombies more cool.

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Gabriel013
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:49:17 AM
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I see his little dig with Battlefield 3. He's pretty much saying annual installments have their place as they bring in a steady revenue stream, but we've been developing Battlefield 3 for 3 years so it will be better than the competition.

I hope he's right.

Like a number of other posters, I am not a fan of the annual installment model. I just dislike copy-paste games.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 11:11:52 AM

I took that to mean Battlefield 3 will be the basis for a yearly release of that series, which already would already make their yearly game technically ahead of cod.

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main_event05
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 1:00:33 AM
Reply

So no new Mirror's Edge and Dead Space becomes an annual occurrence.

WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED?!?!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 11:12:25 AM

nah, that won't happen to DS. The article pretty much confirms it.

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

main_event05
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:20:30 PM

oh, I guess I shouldn't read late at night. apparently my comprehension goes to bed before i do.

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Excelsior1
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 1:06:29 AM
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a year just isn't long enough to make a great game. sports games can get by with it, but i'd hate to see that happen to the dead space franchise.

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___________
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 1:15:50 AM
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i swear to god EA if you turn dead space into a yearly series your going to wake up and wish you found a horses head in your bed!

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CH1N00K
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 10:41:38 AM

You have got to be the angriest Australian I know....Most of the ones I've met are so easy going....of course most of them were stoned too..wonder if that has something to do with it..lol

Last edited by CH1N00K on 2/17/2011 10:42:35 AM

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Lairfan
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:40:47 PM

Wait, I thought you disliked the series' direction and didn't care about it anymore blank line?

Oh yeah, that's right, your opinion changes every couple days it seems.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 1:31:06 AM
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I think that a large part of this early success of Dead Space 2 is because of people having played the first later on. I'm expecting a higher sell-through rate all around, but perhaps a shorter sales tail. I didn't buy the first until four months after release, but loved it enough to make the second a D1P.

Even if Battlefield 3 is the best FPS of the year, managing to topple KZ3 and Crysis 2 in critical acclaim, I don't see it topping CoD in sales. For some reason, that series is a phenomenon that isn't going to be taken down easily. I'm not saying there's no chance, but I don't think it'll happen. While I'm on the topic, I suddenly get the feeling that CoD actually won't sell all that well this year. I mean there are a lot of top notch FPSs that just might cut into its market share.

And what he says about annual franchises is right on the money. Doing so means that the devs don't have time to make the core changes to the engine that they need to keep up with the competition. Sometimes it isn't needed, as the gameplay mechanics are relatively unique. I'm not sure that anyone here would be averse to an annual Uncharted, because the mechanics of the game don't saturate the market (maybe that's just me). And also, yes, an annual franchise, if you are able to keep up the quality and ensure that it is high on the 'buyer's agenda' will net you a lot of money. It's just a shame that it reduces the chances of true innovation.
Peace.

P.S. John, there's a couple of small grammatical errors in the article that you might want to clean up.

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SvenMD
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:37:36 AM

Yeah, I didn't buy DS1 till 5 months ago when it was $15 at Best Buy. I remember playing the demo when it first came out and said "I want this game now", but just didn't have time. When I finished it, and then plat'd it...I knew DS2 was a D1P.

Amazing franchise....just keep the dev cycle where it needs to be.

EDIT: I don't think I want ANY game yearly....there are just too many good games, and not enough time. I would definitely start missing out on some AAA titles if they did that. Also, I don't think even Naughty Dog (as good as they are) could have made Uncharted 2 half as good if it was on a yearly cycle....

Last edited by SvenMD on 2/17/2011 9:40:42 AM

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Lord carlos
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:57:51 AM

i wholeheartedly recommend both 1 & 2

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Snorge
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:28:09 AM

Just finished DS1 about a month ago....Dont care how old that game is, its STILL amazing. Cant wait to start DS2. Gotta finish Vanquish first. Theres a game that went under the radar!

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:39:05 AM

Don't worry! I was in the same boat as you. I didn't play DS right away either. I heard about DS2 and read up on it and it peaked my interest. I picked up DS1 and fell in love! There is no doubt DS is very special. It has the right mix of story, suspense, horror, graphics, sound and great gameplay. It's truly an achievement to make it through the DS games. The last time I felt this type of achievement was when I beat Demon's Souls. Obviously Demon's Souls is harder but you get the idea. Play DS first and enjoy it. If you like DS then pick up DS2. I really doubt you will disappointed in any way. A fantastic jewel that can be hard to find in today's games.

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:41:11 AM

@Snorge

I loved Vanquish!! My only gripe is that it was to short otherwise I feel a longer sequel should be made. The gameplay and FPS mechanics was outstanding. Ahhh, good memories!

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SvenMD
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:42:58 AM

Well you're in luck because now you can get DS1 for $20, and then pick up DS2 for $60....like getting both games for $40 each!!!

And they are both amazing. I think they are completely different than anything out there.

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:48:19 AM

Yes, that is a great deal indeed! Make sure you buy new though to support the devs.

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daizycutter
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:55:15 AM
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im happy to see them release dead space saga every year if they get the story and content right ..as i love sci-fi theres loads of room for the story to progress and evolve ...it be like playing your favorite sci-fi series!!

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Vivi_Gamer
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:57:36 AM
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Hmmm, well if they think they're capable go for it. What bugs me about Dead Space is all the little spin offs. The books and cartoons they're doing. When I invest my time in a game I want the whole story, In one format, not loads of multiple ones.

It's just like Kingdom Hearts, how they have seperated their games on multiple Sony and Nintendo platforms, It completely put me off as now I feel I am missing aspects from the story i just don't want to continue. It's one of the main reasons I'm not buying Dead Space 2 untill i see it for half price.

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:04:54 AM
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I don't care what they do as long as there is a quality product available. I always look at the reviews and if the game blows I won't even look at it since there is so much out there. They know this and it would be suicide to release a Dead Space 3 and have it receive 5.5 out of 10. That would be the end of the franchise. I am scared of this happening because I love Dead Space. So, if they cannot put out a fantastic game like DS2 then I hate this. If everything works out then I love it. I do believe that the chance for failure is raised I don't want to take a chance with a franchise like DS. In conclusion, I think this is a bad idea! Just put out a new game every 2 years. Keep coming up with new IPs like Bulletstorm. This could be EA's beginning of the end.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 2/17/2011 9:05:24 AM

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Snorge
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:34:50 AM
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So do sports game get a pass for the annual releasing!? Madden and COD sell like hot cakes and they release yearly, but when the devs state they want Dead Space annually, some freak out. I trust Visceral, and if they decided they cant do it annually and keep the same quality if not go higher, I say Im all for it!

(I do prefer at least 2 years for games to "mature" ala Killzone, Uncharted, and even God of War)

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 9:45:13 AM

I agree and after giving this thread much thought I wonder how much better visually it can get. I mean, DS2 looked unreal! I don't need the game to look better. So, if they can just work out the story and add some new gameplay elements I am sold. They don't need to create a new engine or redefine the whole look. This could be successful with the right dev and I think Visceral is the right dev to pull it off.

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CH1N00K
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 10:45:03 AM
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I borrowed DS1 from a friend and played a bit of it. It was one of those games that I always told myself I would buy myself eventually....but the new games just keep coming and I haven't gotten back to get it. I know the game is super cheap right now, but I still don't know when I'll play it....

It's tough being me...lol

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BIGRED15
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 11:36:06 AM
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sports games always get a pass because theres always a new season with new rosters. im on zealot in ds2 and dreading hardcore cuz i no u get only 3 saves and none of your armor or weapons from previous difficulties. sound like a huge pain but is it really that tough

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tlpn99
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 12:31:53 PM
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I clocked Dead Space 2 last night. It was brilliant, as good as the first one I would say. It made me jump a lot still like the 1st one did.

I would love to see a Dead Space 3 but not yearly as then the game will just become stagnant.

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Beamboom
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 3:50:55 PM
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Well, I don't see the problem here. From the sound of you all it seems like one either have to buy "all or nothing". So what if a successful game concept is being repeated annually?
There's a stockpile of shitty NEW games being released every single month of the year, I'd much rather get rid of those than good games that are released on a yearly basis. If there is a market for that then good for them, I say.

As for me I look forward to Skate 4 (if that happen) even though I know it brings little new. There will be a bunch of new coop challenges and new surroundings and that's good enough for me, and why should anyone not grant me the pleasure I find in that?

No, go hunt the new bad IPs instead, they are only an annoyance for everyone.

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Lairfan
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:56:17 PM

Dude, no one's denying your right to enjoy the games you want to enjoy. Its just that if you never advance gameplay in a game's sequels, then the gameplay will become stale and NOT GOOD as a result. You always support annual releases of games seemingly without thinking about how the gameplay will just be exactly the same with little to no improvement. And if that game is eventually beaten in every single way by another game (even if it isn't exactly the same style of gameplay), then its gameplay will not be as good as a result. And if the devs were to continue to refuse to change after this, then their gameplay will become archaic, out of date, and completely disliked because everyone will be sick of it.

No game's gameplay is endlessly fun if you make it into a series and don't change it, no matter how much you seem to want to make it so. Even if Uncharted were made into an annual series, it would quickly become as stagnant as CoD. Most gamers need fresh new things in a game to keep coming back to, otherwise its like we already played that game and we've already experienced the experience that it re-offers.

Also, how many bad new IPs have you seen in the past year? If anything, most new IPs are good, and the ones that are bad aren't talked about really. Btw, I'm sure everyone wants to get rid of all bad IPs, but the only way we could get rid of all of them is if we stopped making IPs altogether (since you really can't tell if an IP is good until you've played it). If we were to do this and stop making IPs period, where would we get the next big series from? Even CoD started out as a new IP you know.

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Lairfan
Thursday, February 17, 2011 @ 6:58:56 PM
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Well, I like this guy's comment, basically saying that "CoD comes out every year, but we've spent 3 years on Battlefield 3 and we think it'll be the best this year." Its like he's saying that there's benefits to annual series, but he's also saying "Screw it, we just want to make good games no matter how long it takes," at the same time.

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