Up For Debate - How Long Should Developers Wait Between Game Sequels

Written by Jacques Waugh on Sun, Mar 27, 2016 12:00 PM
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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.

How long should there be between game sequel releases?

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16:11 Mar-28-2016

3-5 years at least and they should make the game as polish as possible

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15:23 Mar-28-2016

Does it really has to be a sequel at all? There is a lot of example of games that had useless and repetitive sequels: from the third AC, bioshock, COD(almost all of them), FIFA, dead space, FFXIII, crysis, saints row IV and so on...

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22:21 Mar-27-2016

ultil the game is ready, and I mean fully ready and optimized like it should be

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05:41 Mar-28-2016

and not missing content and charging for full price cough cough street fighter

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21:10 Mar-27-2016

The question isn't how long they should wait, it should be how long they take to develop the game, it should take as long as it takes for the game to be ready. These day one mega patches shouldn't be happening as much as they do now days.

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19:07 Mar-27-2016

Depends on the game, there are some games that are better left untouched to preserve there peculiarity. Yet, developers still try and usually fail when it comes to follow-up. Then there are games that should have a sequel soon and those with which one can wait patiently before diving into it again.

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17:01 Mar-27-2016

As long to create awesome game

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16:48 Mar-27-2016

2 years...depends on the game

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16:46 Mar-27-2016

as long as its takes - most voted but how quickly would that change if half life 3 could come sooner ha xD

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16:17 Mar-27-2016

I still havent played syndicate. Unity destroyed my faith. However i believe black flag was one of the best games ive ever played

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20:55 Mar-27-2016

and yet it was too boring for me. To each their own I guess. Sailing, while innovative in the franchise, became rather repetitive in 2-3 hours

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21:04 Mar-27-2016

Yeah AC4 was the last one that I bought or played. I am not buying another AC game until they make it in a 1800s Japan setting during the fall of the Samurai time period. I want control of a Samurai that had to turn into a Ninja Assassin with a boat to sail the Japanese islands. I want to play as a renegade fighting against the Japanese Emperor and his foreign US allies (Templars) that are bringing modern weapons and technology to Japan. Until they make that game I am out.

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21:57 Mar-27-2016

^This, this, this!!! If they made that AC, my gaming life would become so much more wonderfull.

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22:38 Mar-27-2016

I pitched the idea to Ubisoft over 2 years ago, and never got a response. I actually sent in a fully fleshed out story and back story that tied it into the other games. Unfortunately I never heard a word back from them. :(


I will LMAO if AC5 uses my pitched story. ;)

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16:58 Mar-28-2016

Then you can sue if you still have that email saved

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19:33 Mar-28-2016

I don't just have the saved email, but I also have the original and edited drafts in my documents that are dated from like 4 years ago when I started it. However I care nothing about suing anyone for anything. It would be nice to see my name in the credits though. Besides...how could I sue them for a story that is based off of a franchise that they already fully own?

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16:12 Mar-27-2016

2-6 years

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16:04 Mar-27-2016

Short games, no replayability and easy to make... Every years.
Long games , replayability and hard to make... 2-5 years.

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16:00 Mar-27-2016

3 to 6 years. Anything less than 3 years means it was a rush job or a copy & paste job. The final outcome will feel either stripped down, misguided, or just down right bad. Publishers need to back off and let the developers work at their own pace. There needs to be a deadline, but it should be a reasonable & flexible deadline, not a rushed and inflexible one. They need to keep release dates secret until after the game is finished & in the optimization process. Stop rushing!

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14:51 Mar-27-2016

Ehh, part of this is the consumer I'm afraid.


i.e. FIFA wouldn't be able to get away with releasing pretty much the exact same game - every year - if people weren't totally automatically willing to say they're going to pay £50 for it. They know it's a guaranteed income.


Now if FIFA players went "stop, hang on, we're tired of this, we want more, new features, game mechanics and SIGNIFICANT improvements... the main things you update are player names, really, there's nothing you're doing that couldn't be pushed in an update or DLC" - then they devs would be forced into making the FIFA games a lot better than they are - because they wouldn't be able to "count FIFA 17 as sold before FIFA 16 has even hit the shelves".


Now, I appreciate that other games don't have as easy a situation of that in terms of franchise and significant improvements - but the consumer role applies.

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13:46 Mar-27-2016

I personally don't see a reason to make sequel,
I mean, there are countless ideas for great games, so why make sequels at all ??
every sequel is judged and compared to its previous part, anticipation is often too high for the actual sequel, overall it's really uneasy to make good sequel anyway..

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14:40 Mar-27-2016

Imagine a world without Half Life 2, Portal 2 or even Borderlands 2, that's a world I wouldn't want to live in.

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19:08 Mar-27-2016

Or Witcher 3 :O

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21:57 Mar-27-2016

for Witcher fans (like me) it would be probably harm,
but for anyone else, if CDPR made game of similar qualities, just not a sequel of Witcher series, seriously do you think anyone would complain ???

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00:51 Mar-28-2016

I for one most certainly wouldn't. :D

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09:13 Mar-28-2016

and to be honest the fact that it(the witcher 3) is a sequel limits their creativity and possibilities as they have to stick to the roots and core gameplay somewhat.

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15:05 Mar-27-2016

If you say that then we probably don't have great games like witcher3, batman arkham city,uncharted series,AC2..sequels are made because ppl want to see more of their favorite characters and devs see that they improve on what they have done

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21:58 Mar-27-2016

people want to see great games at similar importance, regardless of being sequels or not

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15:07 Mar-27-2016

and there are not ountless ideas for great games,the gaming industry is in stagnance, full of remakes, remasters, MOBA... because devs is runnung out of ideas :p

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22:05 Mar-27-2016

so basically you admit game industry quality is constantly dropping, right?

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09:14 Mar-28-2016

absolutely.

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15:17 Mar-27-2016

Sequel is very important for me! imagine a world without GTA V,IV, san andreas, call of duty, assassin's creed! sequel is everything lol don't forget Need for speed series lol

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19:09 Mar-27-2016

As a result of the modding issue in GTA V, I'm not really looking forward to GTA VI. Definitely won't pre-order and will wait half a year to see how they get on about the modders and stuff like that. SP was fun, but if you still want to play it, you're stuck with MP (+modders) or just replaying the story-mode...

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22:04 Mar-27-2016

how about Watch Dogs? how much worse it is compared to GTA:V? how much different it is compared to GTA:V? actually I liked Watch Dogs trying to be innovative instead of GTA:V trying to bring back GTA:SA which it totally failed at :P

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00:52 Mar-28-2016

Watch Dogs was fun when I played it. Got me hooked for a while, but then that was it. I too enjoyed the new approach that game had.

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16:17 Mar-27-2016

you try making all the 10 assassins creed games in one game and then well talk

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20:13 Mar-27-2016

Less than half of them are worth your money, so it's a poor point.

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21:59 Mar-27-2016

pardon me, but AC:3 was not about AC, AC:4 was about pirates, AC:5 was about french revolution, etc. etc. - honestly those could be much better games if those weren't burdened by annoying AC mechanics and logic

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20:16 Mar-27-2016

I have to respectfully disagree with you. No Metal Gear Solid sequals? No new Elder Scrolls game every several years? No Witcher 3?
These are game series that are truly outstanding in every installment, from companies that care (well, Konami used too, not so much now). Sure, games like CoD and FIFA don't hold up to yearly scrutiny, but plenty of sequels are their own thing.

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20:17 Mar-27-2016

Though I am unsure as to why you have received any down votes. Your opinion is honest and of good intention. Some people...

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22:02 Mar-27-2016

I don't really care about my single-post rep to be honest,
I prefer to write honest opinion and definitely encourage to bigger discussion :)

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09:19 Mar-28-2016

agreed, it's better to be honest, for every 5 people I make happy(and up-vote me), 4 people get mad at me(and down-vote me) - global reputation and I personally don't give a duck about any sort of reputation, what I dislike is when somebody dislikes and doesn't leave a reason.

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22:01 Mar-27-2016

I think you are slightly misunderstanding my point,
Bethesda could have done something like Elder Scrolls, but if it wasn't Elder Scrolls then they devs could have much less borders to fit in and wouldn't need to care about complains of previous title comparisons

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13:45 Mar-27-2016

I'll wait a lifetime as long as the game is good :D

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13:42 Mar-27-2016

what is with the Devil May Cry,will they make a seaquel?!

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13:09 Mar-27-2016

Shorter than Polyphony Digital releasing GranTurinmso games that's for sure...

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13:15 Mar-27-2016

But not as long as it took to release Fallout 4 after Fallout 3!

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12:55 Mar-27-2016

Speaking of sequels, where the hell is Half Life 3??

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12:59 Mar-27-2016
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14:54 Mar-27-2016

Speaking of Half Life 3 and sequels.... HL3 (if it ever gets made) - has been so hyped up and anticipated at this point that I feel the entire internet has already collectively set it up to fail :P


Because if it's not absolutely perfect, we'll have people with torches and pitchforks :P

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15:14 Mar-27-2016

I wouldn't need it to be perfect. Just Half-life 2: Episode 2's graphics AND AN ACTUAL ENDING!! ;_; Gabe said the eps were suppose to be 3... To avoid waiting..

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12:46 Mar-27-2016

I think that there are lots of misconceptions about this topic because people seem to believe that the longer the wait the better, I personally believe that a good sequel depends on both sides too, developer and consumer acceptance - continues below

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12:49 Mar-27-2016

Mgs 5, rise of the tomb raider and fallout 4 for example came after a long wait and mgs was unfinished, rotr and fallout 4 were more of the same
I am not hating on the games i am just trying to make my point across with this little limit i have :)

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12:55 Mar-27-2016

Well GTA V was a perfect game , and broke guinness records, MORE than 5 years of development. and I agree with your point, well some BIG Games need a long time mate, just to give to consumer the perfect game!

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14:31 Mar-27-2016

the gap between dota 1 and dota 2 is big. I dont remember the years but maybe 4-7 years to make dota 2. depends on the game.

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12:27 Mar-27-2016

well 2 years is quite good , but it's according to the game , for example GTA V take more than 5 years! but it was perfect! but release a game every year is a bad idea , like Ubisoft did with Assassins creed, but I think the next assassin's creed will be good , because ubisoft will not release a new one this year :)

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