Weekly Discussion Wrap-Up: Breaks

As I said on the discussion itself, this is the last weekly discussion for a while. All being well, a brand new feature will launch tomorrow, one with a lot more involvement from you lovely readers. Anyway, before I say too much and Peter has me killed lets get to the wrap-up of this final topic.

It seems that many of you were in agreement that some franchises need a break of some form or another but it was more of a question of which series need a break. There did seem to be some consensus, for example, that FIFA, and sports titles generally, need a break for a little while. Roynaldo had this to say.

FIFA is one that definitely needs a break, just update the rosters while they are doing it. It needs a full online overhaul from top to bottom and stop with the gimic crap they keep slapping on year in year out….same could be said for almost all sports games.

With DLC it would be fairly simple to keep the squads up to date, and you could put out low cost extensions for users without internet connections, in much the same way that music games put out song packs in stores occasionally. That would suit everyone nicely and give developers a while to work on titles that feel fresh more regularly.

Of course, the big problem with taking a break is that it can be a very hard thing to judge correctly. You might annoy your loyal fans who were expecting a new title that year, or the people looking after the project might change and it never meets the light of day. A break isn’t something you can just throw at a series that’s failing, something that BIGAL-1992 pointed out.

In terms of the videogames industry, a break in the series is more of a tactical decision than anything. You have to carefully consider how well the game sold (or the latest game of a franchise), what the critical reaction to it was like, what projects are coming up, how well does the consumer base know of the brand and how the competition are shaping up. To put in simple terms, it’s a lot of work to plan a break for a game.

Coming at it the other way, you really don’t want the public to forget about you, as Watchful said.

I can see why most publishers can’t get away with what Valve and Kojima do though. In an age where the public has an attention span roughly one third the length of a music video, you’ve got to keep pushing your franchise out there to retain mind-share.

Of course, I think that’s a little unfair on the public. If your series was good enough to have some real fans then taking a break can cause people to clamour for your title more and more; just look at SSX.

There was some disagreement with me though. Whilst most agreed that Call of Duty could do with a break, colossalblue pointed out that that series has already re-invented itself once this generation, although it’s not a strategy that worked out for Medal of Honor.

I think CoD did reinvigorate without taking a break. CoD 4 was a new beginning for the second-rate WWII FPS that CoD had become.

Medal of Honor went the other way and had a bit of a break before its big reboot. I thought that was a really good game but it had a hard time winning over critics and it was always on the back foot in trying to compete with the unbelievable sales records of CoD.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a rather nice outlook from aerobes. This was my favourite comment this week, particularly as it references life in general. Hopefully I’ll see you in our new feature tomorrow.

I think it’s something which is apparent in many aspects of life, moderation is the key.
Don’t take something away so long it gets forgotten about but don’t shove down our throats either so people end up resenting it.

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8 Comments

  1. The above is a nice round up and very true, I think it’s important to define what a break is though and the right reasons for taking it. Certain games certainly need a break, Tomb Raider being one of them, to innvate properly and find out how they can be relevant today. Like is said above, an audience will always be there, but don’t leave it so long it looks like it will never happen. Dead or Alive 5, Shenmue 3, Dino Crisis 4, Getaway PS3… all games from series that were ‘taking a break’for one reason or another, but never seem to see the light of day again. The exception being Hitman 5 and certainly Duke Nukem. 5 years with no news for one and 10 years mired in development hell for the other, is no surprise that people lose faith.

  2. 2 words: Gran Turismo

  3. Fine line really and one that differs for each game, series, genre.

    There really isnt a simple answer and each game has to learn which method of follow ups will work for them.

    Irritable – yes, but the best way forward for each and every game.

    Great article/idea TSA as per usual.

    At ease soldiers……

  4. I really wish for games like FIFA etc. they would produce one game every 2 or 3 years.

    Getting quite sick of all the Halo games now too (everything in between halo 3 and halo reach were unnecessary in my opinion). Same goes for the Call of Duty franchise, and disappointingly other FPS franchises are following suit. Starting to get sick of the lego games now too but I can’t seem to resist buying them.

    I think a few franchises have it spot on though for example Killzone, Ratchet and Clank, Demon’s Souls (can’t wait for Dark Souls now!).

    • Yeah you’re right about Halo. Wars and ODST were pretty pointless (although it was interesting to see them experimenting in ODST)

  5. Typically, the games which avoid the “once a year” approach prove to be the best quality in my eyes. Uncharted, Killzone, Gears of War, etc. Recent COD games for example feel very rushed to me.

    Having said that, some games disappear for a while and when they come back on the radar I get really excited about them: SSX and Twisted Metal immediately spring to mind. I’m still waiting patiently for a Rainbow Six Vegas 3 announcement lol.

    • Yeh I agree about Twisted Metal, I’m really looking forward to that later this year :D

  6. Really interesting to hear different viewpoints on this. I like aerobes comment, accurately sums up how I feel about the debate.

    Also, do you think my girlfriend would take kindly to me asking for a break so I could play my backlog of games? ;) Just a thought.

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