Right now I can think of two triple-A series that have have a sequel popping off each year: Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.
Each year there’s some game that’s a follow up to an earlier entry. In some cases there are many years between each entry. In the case of the Deus Ex series there was three years between the original and Invisible War and then eight more years before the world would get Human Revolution. In the case of Madden, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, or–while they were still being made–Guitar Hero; one only need wait twelve months, or less, before another entry would hit store shelves and digital download platforms.
Without fail people get upset, very upset, when the latest title is announced. That’s what I’m going to talk about today, why that anger is so pointless and misguided.
Let’s focus on the titles in the CoD and AC series’. As soon as we hear news of the next Call of Duty or see the dubstep infused trailer there will be those that roll their eyes and think, or say, “Here we go again. Activision ruining the the genre even further. Just bury it already, it’s been dead for years.” Others will become downright livid. I’ve seen it happen with Assassin’s Creed more lately.
Maybe people have given up hating Call of Duty as much as they did a couple of years ago. I suppose some folks might have come to terms with the realization that, yes, we will be getting another one this year too. Even though the first Assassin’s Creed came out more than six years ago back in 2007, it feels newer. At least it does to me, I couldn’t tell you why. (For reference the very first CoD game came out in 2003. It wasn’t until November of 2007 that we’d see the first of the Modern Warfare titles. In other words: What many people think of as CoD now–the Modern Warfare arc–is actually newer and more title concentrated than the Assassin’s Creed games.)
Games in these two series, as of now, is a fact of life: Each year we’re going to see a new CoD and a new AC game. Getting upset about this is as useful as getting angry that tomorrow will follow today, that the sun will be hot, or that water is still wet.
The follow up to that point is that this anger, even if minimal, is aimed in the wrong direction entirely. When a game in one of these two series’ gets a game announced people tend to target the publisher with their ire. This is no different than getting mad at a developer on Kickstarter after a successful money raising campaign for delivering exactly what they promised to. The only difference being that we don’t know for certain a publisher will follow an exceptionally well received title with a sequel, but it’s kind of a given these days. (Honestly, when was the last time you heard that Game XYZ was selling like hotcakes the first few weeks after its release and then a month later see articles about said game getting a follow up?) A publisher is a company, a business, and it’s their job to make as much money as they can. I’m not going to get all Cliffy B here and say that the likes of EA should be ramming a big one up our butts every chance they get. What I am saying is that when people buy games and ‘vote with their wallets’ they’re telling the creators of that purchase, “I want more of this.” Don’t get mad at the publishers and developers for answering that call for “more!”, yell at the people making those votes.
This brings me to the end of my point. If you dislike something the best thing to do is avoid that thing entirely. Completely. Going to Ubisoft’s forums and making a post about how Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag shouldn’t even come out, that they should take a break, or any other comment only gives Ubisoft more attention. You may have once heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad press.” That’s truth you can take to the bank.
I have another thought on this subject. One that I hope might turn that frown upside down. When a publisher finds a cash cow like Activision and Ubisoft have with their CoD and AC series’ and milk them for all they can. It allows them to take risks they might otherwise not have. Take a look at Watch_Dogs a new title coming from Ubisoft getting a lot of praise already. Do you think this would have ever seen the light of day if Ubisoft didn’t have the capital from the success of Assassin’s Creed? Maybe, but I kind of doubt it.
What about Bethesda publishing Dishonored thanks–I’m sure–to the massive sales of Skyrim. If a publisher isn’t making money they’ll die. Look at THQ. We, the ‘voters’, can only blame ourselves for their death. I do not, for a second, regret paying full price on Steam for Darksiders II or buying the first title twice. I support games I want more of and avoid those like the plague I dislike.