Games that have been annualized generally recieve alot of criticism from gamers. The biggest gripe is the lack of innovation, and the re-use of assets from previous games. One game that has been on an annual cycle that has managed to keep improving and keeping fans interested is the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Offering up new modes, and gameplay elements, while at the same time furthering the story of the universe. It’s a risky endeavor indeed, but Assassin’s Creed: Revelations’ Design Director believes this has actually helped the franchise, by forcing the developer to remain extremely focused on their goals for the franchise.
Falcom Poiker of Ubisoft had this to say in a recent interview:
These games, the production cycle is less than a year, which actually for me is about ideal. Most productions – real production is about that length, but because you have the previous game that’s just finishing on production and you start the next game’s production, there’s this very quick ramp-up time where you’re just swallowing resources saying, “OK, let’s make this team.” And from a 20-person team to a 180-people team within a few months, even that is a bit of a nightmare… So yeah, the time is definitely not on our side.
But a lot of people complain about that, I mean I’m talking internally – people say there’s not enough time. But it gives an impetus to the team and we find a direction that we say we’re going to run in, and there’s very little of the indecision that comes with teams that spend two, three, four years developing games. Frequently those games will restart completely from the ground-up because they’re like, “We’re not satisfied where we are.” We don’t have that luxury so the time actually kind of works in our favour. We go one direction and we go with it. If there’s problems, oh well, we’ll fix it along the way.
One of the big things that Ubisoft has that others don’t is that continual story that fans can’t wait to hear the end of. Though recently, Ubisoft did say they would be slowing the development cycle for Assassin’s Creed once the 2012 plotline had been finished.