Franchises are a huge cornerstone of the games industry. It can end up costing so much money to create a video game and bring it to market that it’s just a much safer bet to release an updated version of a game you’ve already built.
But in a world with the Call of Duties and Assassin's Creeds somewhat diluting themselves with yearly releases, the necessary time between sequels is comparable to the question of “How long is a piece of string?”
On the one end of the scale you have yearly releases. It takes Activision three different game studios to create yearly releases. Originally, it was just Infinity Ward who developed the Call of Duty series. It created the first two games in the franchise which both sold extremely well, and so Activision brought in Treyarch to develop Call of Duty: Big Red One and Call of Duty 3. At this point it falls right in line with FIFA or similar in that we don't hope for but expect yearly releases.
Speaking of FIFA, pretty much any sports title has an annual release. Whether it be WWE, FIFA, NBA or NHL, when a new year rolls around you can expect to see the latest, shiniest version of your chosen sport simulator. With sports games the focus is less on gameplay iteration and updates and more about capturing the zeitgeist of a particular season. The sports are already split up into yearly cycles so it goes hand-in-hand with yearly game releases.
Then you have something like The Witcher which takes a serious amount of years in between games, but then culminates in an entry like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which has become the most critically awarded game of all time. Mass Effect is somewhere between the two options, with fairly frequent releases during the trilogy but then a big break before beginning the next cycle.
Which of these do you guys and gals prefer? Do you enjoy yearly releases as you just can’t stop devouring content, or do you prefer to wait in the hopes that the final quality will be higher?
Share with us your thoughts and which game series you think nail the best form of release cycle.