According to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, developers should take heed when it comes to franchise releases on a yearly basis. “I don’t aim to annualize our non-sports titles because I think you run the risk of burning out the consumer,” Zelnick explained. With developers behind franchises like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Need for Speed insistent on having annual releases to the series, if there aren’t major changes to the game’s format, can players start to get turned off what may have been their favorite series?
Though the Call of Duty series continues to have high sales, anybody that’s browsed the internet in the past few months may have noticed the backlash that came from the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The future setting did little to increase the excitement of fans of the series and even led some to believe that the developer had completely gone off the deep end. By releasing annual installments to a franchise, the developer risks running out of valid ideas rather quickly. Now, unless this installment to Call of Duty tanks completely, it is inevitable that for the 2013 holiday season, Activision will push out yet another iteration, but where do you go from future warfare?
Take-Two has several games on the horizon, one such being Grand Theft Auto V. Its successful predecessor, which was released nearly four years ago, came four years after the release of the critically acclaimed San Andreas. Looking at the reputation behind companies like Take-Two and a company like Capcom, who had a three year gap between its console Resident Evil games, it may be apparent that its not the frequency the title shows up on our gaming library shelves, but rather the quality that comes in the tiny little packaging.
Though there are exceptions to the “spacing” rule. In 2011, after 15 years of development, Duke Nukem Forever released to an extremely eager crowd. Unfortunately, though, despite the lengthy time on the slab, the game bombed and did little to satiate the needs of even Duke’s truest fans. So, adversely, is there such thing as too much time between titles? The Canadian based developer, Eidos Montreal, doesn’t think so.
It may not have been in the works for as long as Duke Nukem, but Eidos’ foray into the cyberpunk world of human augmentation proved to be just as anticipated as the fowl-mouthed brute. Deus Ex: Human Revolution came nearly 8 years after the release of the series sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War; and while it latched onto some popular concepts of the older series, its addition of new gameplay mechanics only helped to amplify the games success.
Every developer has their own way of doing things, and while Call of Duty has met much success over the past few years, Activision may very learn the meaning behind “milking the cash cow dry”. In his interview with Gamasutra, Zelnick states, “Some of our competitors have had this trajectory where they extract a lot of value and the IP goes away. We’re trying really hard to build permanent IP. And if you have to rest the title for a few years, over time you’ll extract more value.”
In summation, even in the gaming industry, absence does make the heart grow fonder.