Today we have an interesting debate for you and one that might have a unique, timely angle as for the argument in favour of it.
And that debate is whether or not sports games, or any game for that matter, should release a new title every year with minor updates over the previous year’s game.
As you can see, this would impact a lot of sports games – and bottom lines – for many companies. But is there something to be said for it in this era of eSports and games-as-a-service business models? Yes, yes there is, and it might result in a better gaming experience for everyone.
Lack of innovation in yearly releases?
Like the changing of the seasons, gamers can expect a new FIFA or Madden title with regularity. Yet it is rare that these games truly make leaps and bounds over their predecessor. Indeed, it is tough to not think that these games are kind of like a cash grab. No one wants to be a part of that. So what is a publisher to do?
Well, there are a lot of options. For starters, more frequent updates and a larger initial price might do much to compensate for money lost due to not releasing a game every year. It isn’t like this is a new concept for gamers.
Beyond this, however, is the extended ecosystem that mainline gamers aren’t aware of in terms of smartphone games and apps. FIFA 20 won’t be the only way EA makes money off of FIFA 20, and it is this ancillary income that could also perhaps make up for the loss of revenue from not having a new FIFA every year.
The biggest argument in favour of chilling out on a release every year is that a lot of the game can be improved through periodic and consistent updates but also that eSports almost favours games that have some level of predictability.
eSports to force change in FIFA strategy?
To outsiders, most new FIFA and Madden games aren’t that different, but they are different beasts in ways that would be fundamental for an eSports circuit. Plus, there’s just the general fatigue from buying a game every year – especially when you can’t really trade in the previous one because it’s basically worthless.
A new model would do a lot to maybe expand FIFA’s model outside of this situation which we can only imagine isn’t that good for programmers, either.
Who knows whether it will happen or not. FIFA has survived bad reviews in the past and it will continue to do so in the future. The only issue is what the future of these games will be and how much of an impact eSports and entertainment has on the direction devs take with the game.
At the end of the day, what the players want will matter more than anything else, aside from EA’s shareholders. Right now there doesn’t seem to be any serious incentive to move away from the annual production cycle they have now but it’s a shame to not consider new options in this ever-connected world.