Time, time, time

When I see games brought to market by companies like Assassin’s Creed, I can’t help but think – why move to an annual release date? Okay, obviously I get that there is more money in it. That part goes without saying (well, it should have I guess). I even understood it in the making of the Ezio trilogy. Same character, similar art assets and the the country is the same. But moving from the Italy games, into the Americas and completely going in a new direction – that to me is something that needs a break in between.

What bothers me is that games are getting released faster and faster. Something that was a biannual release, or longer, becomes a yearly release, and the quality just isn’t where it should be by the time the game is gold, or released. Last year being the worst of it – two team, two Assassin’s Creed games (Unity for current gen, Rogue for last gen) at the same time…So, there are only two ways to look at it: Either A) Ubisoft is milking the fan base, and they are aware of it, or B) They really think splitting up teams to work on simultaneous releases, is something the fans actually want. I find the latter awfully hard to swallow.

Now, I’ve played Unity. It’s a decent game. I haven’t touched Rogue, but I hear that it’s excellent. Pretty hard to justify picking up a game exclusive to last gen, especially considering all of the remasters. And this isn’t a rant to say that I don’t like the company, or the games. I have bought every title they’ve released in the series, except for the DLC stand-alone games like Freedom Cry, etc. And, as I also said earlier, the majority of titles I’m really looking forward to this year are Ubisoft games.

The problem falls somewhere between games not being finished when they’re released and making the fans feel like, well, like this:

Look at companies like Rockstar or Bethesda. They have huge titles under their belts. GTA V, Fallout 4, etc. Those games come out when they’re supposed to come out. They’re released finished, not half-baked. Do they come out of the box perfect? No, not always. Skyrim was basically unplayable for quite some time on PS3, but my point stands.

The reason why games like Grand Theft Auto V were such huge successes, aside from being an incredible IP, is that Rockstar wants the people who buy their games to get something worthy of their time and money. Fallout 4 is another example of how to do it right. The game is announced, is due to be released within six months of it’s announcement, but has been under construction for long enough that they can show off a (basically) finished product by the E word. When the come with promises for features – they’re actually in the game.

Assassin’s Creed 3 – felt like it got Molyneux’d (Aside: Pretty awesome that it’s actually on Urban Dictonary). Climb anything they said. Use the woods to your advantage they said. Well, neither of those things ended up being [fun]ctional really. And, I feel like it’s the sort of concept that could have been worked out over time. Rather than forcing a deadline.

Speaking from my experience in the game industry: pushing up a dev cycle on a game because you have x/y/z already complete (in this case a parkour system) doesn’t mean that you don’t need that extra time to make sure it works like you said it would. You’ll never see a GTA rushed to market. If anything, companies like that err on the side of too slow. But, that’s why they set world records and sell a million copies on release day.

Even though sometimes it makes me edgy, and I have a hard time waiting for something (like GTA V heists, Fallout 4, etc), I’d prefer to see the release pushed back a month or two, if it means a polished game.

– The Ego


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