The Yearly Video Game Franchise: Good, Bad, or Simple Cash Grab?

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Every year a new Call of Duty game comes out. Every year a new Madden game comes out. Every year a new Assassin’s Creed game comes out (or two). You get the point. Video games are in a state where we get yearly franchises. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or just a simple cash grab? First, let’s look at Call of Duty. The first Call of Duty game was released in 2003. And then we have Call of Duty: Finest Hour which came out in 2004, although, it is debatable if this can be considered a full game or simply an expansion. Call of Duty 2 in 2005, Call of Duty 3 in 2006, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (when the franchise really blew up) in 2007, Call of Duty: World At War in 2008, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, Call of Duty: Black Ops in 2010, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in 2011, Call of Duty Black Ops II in 2012, Call of Duty: Ghosts in 2013, and lastly, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014. Something a bit strange is going on here. Call of Duty has always been a yearly franchise! But why are people just starting to complain about it.

I think the answer is pretty simple: it’s popular…extremely popular. It’s fun to hate on the popular thing. I’ve hated on Call of Duty before. I won’t deny that. I actually haven’t bought one since Modern Warfare 3 but have decided to buy Advanced Warfare simply because it looks like a more innovative game this time around with more interesting mechanics along with keeping the same fun core gameplay. But is this a good thing? Is it a good thing that we get these games every single year? I actually don’t think it is a bad thing. Could each Call of Duty be more innovative if they actually spent a bit more time on it? Sure, probably, but they also realize they can make a lot of money. First and foremost, video games are a business, especially huge big budget franchise. The number one goal is to make money. We cannot lie about that as gamers and consumers of these products, we’d be kidding ourselves.

As a personal note, I’m more of a fan of the two-year development cycle for video game franchises. One studio that does a really amazing job with that is Naughty Dog. They’ve managed to consistently release every iteration of the Uncharted franchise every two years and kept them consistently great games. Do they play fairly similar? Yes. But did they add enough each game to make them worth purchasing? Absolutely, I’d say more so than a Call of Duty game does every year (especially in terms of story writing…). I do think it is very much possible for most major studios to release consistently great games every two years, is it a necessity? No, probably not. Would it be really awesome? Sure.

So are we supposed to embrace yearly franchises as gamers? As evident by sales…it seems to be that way. People keep on buying Madden, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed every year, so why would these studios NOT continue to push out these games? I can’t say I’m crazy about the model as a whole, but I’m not against it either. If people buy a product, the producers will continue to make said product, especially if you build a brand like Call of Duty has. (I mean you managed to get Kevin Spacey in your game. That shows something.) As a whole, I have one rule that everyone should follow when it comes to video games (or any industry): vote with your wallet. If you don’t want to support the yearly video game franchise concept…don’t. Simply don’t. The less people who buy it, the more studios may realize this isn’t worth doing and that they could potentially make bigger and better games. I’m not for or against the model, it simply depends game by game if I’m willing to support the franchise that year, that’s just how I feel about the entire concept.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)

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4 thoughts on “The Yearly Video Game Franchise: Good, Bad, or Simple Cash Grab?

  1. Feels very meaningless for the few to vote with their wallet if the rest just keep on buying. The companies don’t see the “players who didn’t buy the game that you should consider” chart, they see a million copies shipped.

    • I still think it is important to make a personal statement against these yearly franchises if you want to, that is. Besides, if nobody stops buying them, that does absolutely nothing. Sure, in the end, it may come across as meaningless, but it still gives them 60 less dollars a year if you avoid buying it.

      • While I agree ideologically, the practice is difficult to achieve without a notable group of not only refusing but making a statement publicly, like I said they’ll likely not hear about those who did not pay, making a stand is one thing, getting those you oppose to recognise it is another.

  2. Pingback: Broken Games and Half-Ass Releases: What the hell is going on with games in 2014? | Smaller Than Galaxies

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