The term ‘annualization’ has become synonymous with the likes of Fifa, Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. With a new instalment every year, companies are dishing out these games like hot cakes. Hence the question arises; are gaming companies more inclined to milk their franchises? Or can annualized games be a potentially good thing?
The majority of the gaming community is against annualization; it is pretty evident on numerous forums. Gamers don’t like the idea of developers using the same formula over and over again and charging a full 60 bucks (3000 rupees) for a game that is not much different from the one that came out the earlier year. Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Fifa are some of many franchises that have been criticized for yearly releases. The publishers behind these games have been alleged of releasing same games with few modifications and hardly any fresh gameplay systems for making more money. But then again, these franchises, which receive so much stick for being annualized, are also one of the best sellers every year. A bit contradicting, no?
So, the main reason behind the hatred towards yearly releases is the fact that most sequels are failing to have anything fresh in them; no gamer wants a sequel that is too familiar. When a sequel or a new installment in a franchise looks too similar to its predecessor, the gamer obviously will feel that there wasn’t much work put into the game and he/she will obviously be angry that he/she will have to pay a full 60 bucks (3000 rupees) for something that they don’t feel is new or different. But yet, they buy it, flapping their arms and muttering under their breaths. Why? Because that is what gamers do; they put their trust into the developers and hope that maybe this time, it will be different. So who is to blame here? The guy that’s selling or the guy that’s buying?
Lets look at it from a developer’s perspective; making games is a business. These guys not only need to keep their fans happy but they also need to make their bosses happy. Now a game, say, Watch Dogs, was designed to have 20 different hack elements; the game company knows that you are going to pay the full price for the game irrespective of the number of elements included. So, obviously, one of the corporate evil guys will think to himself ‘Hmmm…….. lets save some features for a sequel!! We wont have to work from ground up for a new game!!! Muahahahah!!!’ And the devs are inclined to agree as they have to think on a long term basis.
And hey, we as gamers, aren’t saints as well. Why do these companies make yearly releases? Because we buy them. Duh. By buying these games and increasing sale numbers, we are quite literally seducing publishers to release a new instalment every year. If gamers are unhappy with annualization then they have to do something about it other than complaining about it on the forums. Stop buying their games and you will be forcing them to make better quality games.
Now that we have covered everything that is bad about annualization of games, a question lingers. Can there be any good? Probably. Hopefully.
Publishers seem to be acknowledging the fact that their fans aren’t happy with their milking of their star franchises. EA seems to have actually put some real effort this time into FIFA 15. Ubisoft has completely over hauled the three pillars that make up the Assassin’s creed franchise (mission structure, parkour system and combat) to make Assassin’s Creed: Unity a new and fresh experience. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue, which received quite a lot of stick for being a rip off of Assassin’s Creed:4 Black Flag, offers a fresh narrative experience where you can play as a Templar; that is a first for the series. Also for the first time ever, a Call of Duty trailer did not look too familiar; yes, I am talking about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare which looks quite promising. Activision has also announced that they are allowing three different developers to work on the Call of Duty series, giving more development time for each installment. So, I guess there is still hope for the series?
Annualization of games might not be so bad after all. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below.