News Post

It's becoming clear that Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick is not enamored with franchises that are released annually, according to Gamasutra. At the UBS 38th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City, Strauss Zelnick discussed the risks of an annualized franchise.

And "reasonable people can disagree about this, but my belief is even a very, very high-quality annualized franchise runs the risk of burning customers out."

However, IGN points out that Zelnick is still backing yearly sports titles.

With the exception of its sports titles, Take-Two has no interests in bringing out annual iterations of its major franchises every year. Zelnick says he feels consumers can get burned out after awhile, which ultimately lowers the value of the franchise.

If there was a company out there that might lean towards a biennial release schedule for its sports games, it would be Take-Two. After all, the company has been very successful with downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto and Borderlands -- Gamasutra points out that Take-Two is on pace for "its first profitable year without a numbered GTA release" -- and it has become known as a company that is unafraid of delaying marquee titles.

But if Zelnick is not even considering biennial sports franchises, it might be time to retire the discussion for now. At best, we might continue to see alternative sports games like Skate or The Bigs come out every two years, or we might continue to see something like EA MMA and Fight Night alternating with each other on the yearly release schedule.

Member Comments
# 1 acts238shaun @ 12/06/10 08:01 PM
There need to be bi-annual releases for many sports games. I feel doing so would cut glitches and bugs.
# 2 Dazraz @ 12/07/10 03:25 AM
This is a tough one. I sure have mixed feelings. A year without a new MLB/NHL/NBA/NFL title would be strange after so many years of annual iterations. I guess the question is do developers need that extra year. Look at NBA 2K11 & you would guess not. This game has seen a tonne of upgrades from last year. However look at NHL 11 & Madden 11 & you have a couple of releases that are better than the previous years game but in more of a tweaked sense than a new gaming experience.

As the technology improves & the consumer base becomes more demanding it is no doubt getting increasingly difficult for developers to get it right year on year. Certainly in the case of NBA Elite where EA tried to introduce a whole new system within a one year cycle. 2K have done the sensible thing by taking a year out to try to turn around their NHL series after a couple of poor releases in 2K9 & 2K10.

For the major franchises such as the MLB & the NFL I still feel the market exists for annual releases. This is because of the demands of the consumer within these titles. Many gamers expect up to date spot on realism within these titles. Such as minor stadium alterations, uniform changes, rule changes & up to date commentary being accurately depicted. However games such as FIFA, F1 & Fight Night have a more relaxed following & therefore a 2 year release cycle with downloadable roster patches would likely suffice.

I guess ultimately it comes down to what will be best for the developers. Can EA afford to go a year without releasing a FIFA game. If developers did take an extra year are we guaranteed to get a better game at the end of it. Think about it. If a developer only releases a game once every 2 years they are in theory losing a year of potential sales. To counteract that they will likely have to use the games developers more prudently. This will likely see developers being used on a multitude of titles. Therefore each individual game may actually get less attention to detail than we have currently.

Also if a developer takes an extra year the consumer will inevitably have a higher expectation of the final product. Time Taken = Better Product. Or at least it should in theory. Look at the feed back from Gran Turismo 5. Whatever your opinion of this game I think even the most diehard fan will struggle to justify the development time with the quality of the final product.

As I stated at the start of this comment I am undecided as to the benefits of a biannual release. If it means we get an improvement in the quality of releases then it is a good thing. The problem is I have a niggling doubt the changes will be as great as many would expect.
# 3 BigH2k6 @ 12/07/10 08:20 AM
I beleive bi-annual releases would be better for sports games. What they could as well is make downloadable minor title upgrades to the games to get rid of bugs, improve gameplay, new jerseys and new players (rookies, retired veterans) and such between bi-annual releases and charge something around $10 or $15.

That way, you don't lose all your sales revenues and it keeps the games fresh until a new release. Think of it as somthing similar to expansion packs that already exist for certain games

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