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Latest News

How Ubisoft is Capitalizing on Destiny's Faults with The Division

Written by Thorrash on March 03, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

The Division

Ubisoft’s The Division is only a few days away, but the publisher is making sure that interested gamers know what to expect from the game for the foreseeable future.

As of now, Ubisoft has announced plans to release 3 paid expansions for The Division, along with 2 free major updates. “Incursions”, the first free update, arrives in April and brings end-game content designed for 4-player squads. The second free update, “Conflict”, brings new features and areas for players to explore in May.

The Division

The first paid expansion, titled “The Underground”, will release this June and feature “intense co-op action” for 3-player parties. The second expansion, “Survival”, will release later this summer and challenge players to survive as long as possible while gathering items in a hostile location. The third paid expansion, “Last Stand”, will release sometime this winter. There is no word on what players can expect yet from the final expansion of the year, other than it contains a “new, relentless threat.”

All 3 paid expansions can be purchased via a season pass ($39.99) and are included in The Division's Gold Edition and Collector’s Edition.

Ubisoft’s transparent plans for The Division is a stark contrast to how Activision has handled Destiny's content. Following Destiny's expansion, The Taken King, Activision seemed to have no road map for future content. Adding fuel to the fire, Senior designer Derek Carroll and marketing director Eric Osborne were on different pages regarding future content, citing contradicting ideas about The Taken King’s updates.

Destiny's biggest update of 2016

Destiny players have received small and somewhat insignificant updates since The Taken King's launch in September, most of which featured only cosmetic items and holiday-themed events. Activision then claimed that a new, large expansion would release "sometime in 2016", but as of yet there has been no formal time frame announced.

Players burned by Activision's lack of a content road map will be happy to see that someone has learned a lesson from Destiny's faults. Ubisoft’s solid timeline of major updates is very reassuring for those interested in The Division as well as a solid hook for those worried about its future.

Tom Clancy's The Division releases March 8th, 2016 for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PS4) Impressions

Written by Thorrash on February 10, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

To Prelude...

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has had an interesting road to localization. First announced in 2013 for the PlayStation Vita in Japan, the title had little hope of being released in the West. Digimon titles have released year after year without localization, and previous attempts to petition for Western releases of Digimon World Re:Digitize for PSP or 3DS ended in failure. Operation Decode, the major group petitioning for Digimon games in the West, decided to switch its focus to Cyber Sleuth after it was announced. After a long and hard fought campaign, Operation Decode finally struck gold. Bandai Namco announced that they would localize Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth in North America and Europe. Last week, Kazumasa Habu, the producer of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, released a video thanking Western fans for their support. Without it, he says, the game would never have released outside of Japan. I wanted to take this opportunity to shine light on the effort put forth by those running Operation Decode, and thank them and Bandai Namco for their work in localizing this title.

BEGINNING YOUR DIGI-VENTURE

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth starts off in a very typical fashion - you choose your difficulty, gender, go through some world building dialogue, and eventually choose your first Digimon. As with Pokémon, you have a choice between 3 companions: Hagurumon, Palmon, and Terriermon. After choosing a Digimon to start with, you're let loose into Cyber Sleuth's main dungeon "Kowloon."

If you choose to play the game on Normal, then you won't have any issue at the start. I would compare Normal difficulty to Pokemon, where you can generally breeze through the game without much training. Cyber Sleuth's Hard difficulty is a welcome difference compared to Pokemon. It offers a mild challenge during boss fights and pushes you to follow combat alignments.

DIGITAL BRAWLING AND EVOLVING

Cyber Sleuth's combat is what you would expect from a monster collecting RPG. Your combat options include basic attacks, guarding, skills, and changing out your party members. On the right side of the battle screen is the turn order, showing you which Digimon acts when and how your chosen skill might change the order of battle. Cyber Sleuth, as with most Digimon games, uses a weakness system revolving around 2 sets of types: attributes (virus, data, and vaccine) and types (Fire, Water, Earth, etc.). Each Digimon is assigned an attribute and type, while abilities only use types. Attacks that take advantage of attribute weakness are doubled while type advantage gives you a 50% damage increase. Both of these stack with each other, so you can hit an enemy with a 300% if you play your cards right. The same idea applies to resistance, where attributes that resist an attack will cut damage in half while type resistance will cut damage down by 25%.

Cyber Sleuth Graphics

Fans of Digimon know that these digital critters can both digivolve and devolve. This system plays a major role in Cyber Sleuth, and provides an addictive aspect to hook players. Every Digimon has multiple evolutions that players can choose from, but most require you to hit certain stat caps along with specific levels. Leveling up and digivolving is quick and easy for a while, but as you go up in forms you must meet more and more requirements. There are 3 key stats to keep in mind while raising your Digimon: CAM, ABI, and Max Level. CAM (Camaraderie) is how friendly you and your Digimon are. In battle, this stat affects each Digimon's chance of performing a linked attack with other party members. The only ways to raise this stat is to feed your Digimon in the farm or to use them in battle. ABI(Ability) and Max Level are both raised the same way - through digivolving and devolving.

To enforce the notion that players should devolve their companions and explore other forms, Cyber Sleuth gives players a cap on "party memory." As with most technology, there is a limit to how much data you can store - and digivices are no exception. Every Digimon takes up a certain amount of memory on your digivice, changing based on their rank (Rookie, Champion, etc.). This makes players juggle what ranks their Digimon are so that they can have a balanced party. You can go crazy and rank up a Digimon to Champion or Ultimate early on, but you wont have room for others in your party. It's a smart way to keep players from breaking the game, and it made me feel more attached to my crew as I went back and forth through various forms.

TAKING IN THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Let's be clear - Cyber Sleuth isn't the prettiest game on the PS4, and understandably so. The game was created for the PS Vita and ported to the PS4 afterwards, which explains much of what I'm about to say. The team in charge of porting Cyber Sleuth to the PS4 definitely chose to focus on the Digimon models versus the textures used in the world. While models look vibrant and have fine animations, their textures are a bit blurry and feel as though they were just blown up to a higher resolution. Object textures are worse, with many looking like they belong in a PS2 game.

Cyber Sleuth Graphics
Low resolution objects look out of place on the PS4.

This is unfortunate, but honestly I didn't really mind it. Digimon (and people) are the focus of the game, and the models look comparable to PS3 "Tales of" games. The big trade-off that PS4 users get here is a solid 60 FPS throughout the game where PS Vita us ers are capped at 30 FPS. Battles and exploration feel very fluid on the PS4 version, which is a big plus for those choosing that version of the game.

One thing that Cyber Sleuth lacks in comparison to Pokemon is a large, explorable world. While you are able to visit numerous locations around Tokyo, generally they are very small. There are a number of sites to visit inside of Eden, Cyber Sleuth's virtual world. Again, most areas are small sites with one or two screens to travel between. Kowloon, the dungeon that players will spend most of their time in early on, is a bit repetitive and constricted.

As for Cyber Sleuth's soundtrack, I'm still up in the air. As soon as I started up the game I noticed Masafumi Takada's hand in the game's music. The soundtrack sounds very similar to that of Dangranronpa, which isn't a huge stretch considering both games are about solving mysteries. While I have mostly enjoyed the soundtrack so far, I can't say that there are any standout hits. I've played over 40 hours of the game and, as hard as I try, I can't even hum the battle theme from memory. In addition, I noticed early on that the soundtrack seemed a little scarce. I've only heard one battle theme, one boss theme, and a handful of scene themes that repeat quite often. In short, Cyber Sleuth's soundtrack does the job, but it's nothing to write home about.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIGIVICE

There are multiple systems in Cyber Sleuth that add depth to the general monster capture game. Of these, the two most notable ones would be the DigiFarm and DigiLine.

DigiFarm-Ville

The DigiFarm allows you to raise Digimon outside of your party and command them to do one of three things: Train, Investigate, and Develop. Along with these commands, players are able to purchase items for DigiFarms that increase experience for certain types of Digimon or the yield of Investigate and Develop commands.

Cyber Sleuth Farm
Let your Digimon roam free!

Training is exactly what you would think - Digimon who are training will gain stats and levels at a faster pace than those doing something else, but will lose CAM. ABI affects the amount of stats gained through training on the farm outside of leveling, so Digimon with high ABI are able to build up specific stats depending on the "leader" Digimon you select for your farm.

Having your Digimon investigate will send them to snoop around the Digital World. Once the order is complete, they'll come back with new side quests for you to complete. Investigating still gives experience, but not as much as Training.

The Develop command is probably the least effective of the three commands. Giving your DigiFarm this command will have the residents create items for you. After multiple uses, I can't say that I received anything other than some healing items. However, this could change depending on the levels of residents and what items you equip your farm with.

Throw Me a DigiLine

The DigiLine system is a cute system in Cyber Sleuth that allows the player to receive text messages from both Digimon they have on the DigiFarm and other characters in the game. I was really excited about this when I first started playing Cyber Sleuth, but it almost instantly became a hassle.

Cyber Sleuth DigiLine
These are 2 back to back messages at the start of the game. A sign of things to come...

The Digimon have a few set texts that they will send you, and you'll often receive the same message from different Digimon. My first 3 messages were all the same thing, which was really upsetting considering how the game should at least try to hide the fact that you're going to sit through the same 5 messages all game.

The messages and reply options in the DigiLine system also show some essence of laziness on the localization team. Most responses sounded awkward, and many times they didn't match up with the conversation at all which lead to some really odd conversations.

Cyber Sleuth DigiLine
This conversation got off topic fast.

DIGI-DESTINED FOR AN OLDER CROWD

One of Cyber Sleuth's biggest strengths is that it's aimed towards an older audience than the likes of Pokemon, Yokai Watch, and the rest of the Digimon series. This allows them to give players a story that has heavier themes and more consequences. Death is a thing in the world of Cyber Sleuth, along with plenty of criminal activity, corporate greed, and medical mystery.

The side quests in Cyber Sleuth offer players additional information on the world around them. While a good number of them are random fetch quests, there are plenty of "sleuth" cases that have you helping people find lost family members, hunt down "real" ghosts, or even fixing broken air conditioners. It's a nice change of pace compared to Pokémon, where most people exist only to battle you.

At a little over 20 hours of play time I can't say that the story has delivered on all fronts, but it is certainly made for an older crowd. I'm excited to see where the story goes, and hopefully it will end on a strong note.

LOCALIZING THE DIGITAL WORLD

Here is where I'm going to get a bit harsh on Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (and ultimately Bandai Namco). The localization of this game feels, at best, lazy. The game is filled with typos, translation errors, and other small nuisances.

There are many instances in Cyber Sleuth where you're able to choose what your character will say from 2 or 3 pre-written phrases. I've lost count on how many times the text is incorrectly formatted, giving you situations where all of the options run together like the image below.

Cyber Sleuth Options
I'm assuming option 2 starts at "It's okay"

What bothers me most, however, is how the localization team blatantly cuts corners by copying and pasting text. While running through a labyrinth, I clicked on a girl who was frozen in place. As most RPG players do, I clicked on everybody I came across just in case. What I found was that every person frozen there, whether they are a boy, girl, old man, little kid, or whoever, was called a girl in the description.

Cyber Sleuth Girl
No girls were seen in the taking of this screenshot.

Soon after this point, my fiance started playing Cyber Sleuth as the female protagonist. However, nobody apparently noticed this as every character referred to her as a boy. Each and every conversation was exactly the same as they were with the male protagonist, down to referring to the player as a boy. Not only is that lazy, but it's inexcusable.

Cyber Sleuth Boy
I've never seen a boy with that kind of figure before.

As I mentioned earlier, the DigiLine messages also reeked of laziness. Poor translations, cut and paste responses for every character, and even incorrect dialogue at some points. Instead of translating the messages and tailoring them to fit English grammar conventions, it feels like the localization team did the bare minimum so they could capitalize on the desire for this game.

Cyber Sleuth DigiLine
Either the localization team messed up, or Clockmon is one condescending Digimon.

An important thing to note about Cyber Sleuth is that it only contains the original Japanese audio - something that will delight some while upsetting others. In a way, I think that the lack of English audio allowed the team to cut corners with the translation since they didn't have feedback from voice actors and directors. As a fan of Japanese audio in games, I am happy that it is featured in the game.

FINAL VERDICT

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth hits all of the right notes for Digimon fans. Unfortunately, the localization was sloppy and makes the game feel unpolished. While annoying, it really doesn't change the fact that this game is a must-play for Digimon fans or those looking for a more in-depth monster collecting experience.

Positives:
  • Digivolving and collecting all 240 Digimon is addicting
  • Engrossing systems add depth and make you feel connected to your Digimon
  • Story is aimed towards an older audience, meatier than the competition
  • Solid turn-based combat & attribute system
  • Constant 60 FPS and fast load times
  • Difficulty options!
  • Japanese audio
Negatives:
  • Low resolution textures on scenery and Digimon faces
  • Lazy localization work mars experience
  • You can't turn the camera while exploring. WHY?!
  • No English audio for those who prefer it

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Censorship in Localized Games and Why Nintendo is a Target

Written by Thorrash on February 01, 2016 @ 11:24 am

Fire Emblem Fates

Nintendo has recently revealed that Fire Emblem Conquest and Birthright will not contain a "face-touching" mini-game that was included in the original release of the games in Japan. This announcement comes soon after Nintendo's decision to change or remove certain skits dealing with semi-incestuous relationships and what some netizens claim is reminiscent of "gay conversion therapy."

These decisions are not surprising for Nintendo, who in recent months have censored games during the localization process, such as Xenoblade Chronicles X, Bravely Default, and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. Is Nintendo's recent track record a big deal, or is it being blown out of proportion?

Bravely Default Censorship
Bravely Default's outfit censorship. US Release on the left, Japanese release on the right. In addition to outfit changes, both characters are aged 3 years in the NA/EU releases (18 and 20 instead of 15 and 17).

Recent Censorship in Video Games

Censorship has always been a hot topic, and is generally frowned upon in most situations. In recent years, video game publishers have been more progressive with what games are localized in the West and what content is allowed in those releases. Sony's PlayStation Vita has been a safe haven for games that, 5 years ago, would never have had a chance of localization like Monster Monpiece or Gal Gun: Double Piece. Steam has been a growing platform for localized visual novels and eroge, which I would never have expected a few years ago.

Even though there have been massive strides made towards localizing more risque and niche games, many of these games have received some amount of censorship. For instance, Idea Factory's Mugen Souls Z had a majority of its nude scenes blurred out with fog or removed altogether. Monster Monpiece, another Idea Factory release, had some of its card images changed because they were deemed to be to sexual for Western audiences.

Monster Monpiece Gameplay
An aspect of *Monster Monpiece's* gameplay. Cards from the JP release that were censored were too NSFW to post.

Trends in Censorship

To understand what's happening with censorship in recent titles, I believe it's important to look at censorship trends in both America and Japan. When looking at Western titles that received notable censorship in Japan, we can see that blood and violence are toned down for Japanese audiences. Blood is removed or heavily toned down in these games, but what is important to note is that these games are censoring blood in content containing 2 or more parties fighting each other. In the West, Japanese games that are localized for American audiences can be sorted into 2 distinct censorship categories: criminal violence and sexual content. The Japanese games I mentioned earlier feature the censorship of sexually charged scenes featuring questionably aged characters. What I found interesting is that there has been a trend in localization where brutal murder and suicide are both censored in games that come over from Japan.

Siren: Blood Curse
Seigo Saiga from Siren: Blood Curse. In the JP version he commits suicide, but in the NA release the scene is removed.

To find the reason for these differences, look no further than the rating systems in both countries. Japan's rating system, CERO, appears to come down hard on violence towards humans when it is shown in a positive light. The ESRB, on the other hand, has become increasingly lenient towards violence but ever vigilant about sexual content (especially when it contains children and young adults). When you step back and look at the cultures of both countries, it becomes even more apparent. To drive the point home, here's an excerpt from a great response given by Idea Factory regarding the localization of Monster Monpiece:

This was a very difficult decision since we work very hard to satisfy our fans and want to bring the same content being offered in Japan. However, Western society is not as lenient as that of Japan when sexual images are involved—especially images of humanoids that appear to be younger than a socially acceptable age. The borderline of what is “acceptable” will always be extremely gray and vary from person to person, but as a responsible company working in the U.S., we had to make the difficult decision that we did. We sincerely apologize for those who do not agree with any level of censorship, but we greatly appreciate your understanding with the decision we have made.

Why is Nintendo Censoring Games?

Now that we've looked into censorship trends, we can discuss Nintendo's recent censorship and why it is (or isn't) a big deal.

Nintendo's recent actions have received more media buzz due to their popularity. The censorship in, say, Xenoblade Chronicles X or Bravely Default, is less intrusive than blurring out scenes or removing artwork in other titles. In these games, censorship comes in the form of giving underage characters outfits that are less revealing than the ones they originally wore. In both instances, these outfits are optional and the changes do not affect gameplay.

Xenoblade
Lin from Xenoblade Chronicles X. The blue-background images are US release versions of the outfits to their right. Since Lin is only 13 years old, is this acceptable?

This is where Fire Emblem's censorship is drastically different. The removal of the "face-touching" mini-game and editing of text both change the content of the game. Skits that are changed will undoubtedly have an impact on how players view the relationships between characters when compared to the Japanese release, but more notable is the removal of content.

By removing content from Fire Emblem Conquest & Birthright, Nintendo takes away content from the consumer without adding content in its place or lowering the price. Does the removal of the mini-game justify a price drop? I don't think so, but there are those on the internet who are cancelling pre-orders due to the removal of this content.

Is Nintendo's current trend in censorship too harsh? To answer that, we have to think about Nintendo's brand image. Nintendo is known for being a family-friendly company who generally releases "E" rated titles. Their consoles are marketed towards children and families. Releasing games containing sexual content could really damage their image in those demographics, causing them to lose future customers. Imagine a parent seeing their 10 year old petting an almost nude women on their 3DS - would they want to let their child continue playing?

Bravely Default Censorship
*Fire Emblem Conquest/Birthright's* accessory shop, where you can strip characters.

As of now, censorship is still a necessary evil when it comes to localizing games in the West. It is up to each individual to decide whether or not they support the practice and will purchase games featuring censorship. While I am not a fan of censorship in any medium, I want to leave everyone with one final thought: without censorship in some titles, we would not be able to play them in our native language or at all depending on region locking. Is the price of censorship too high when you think of it in that context? Comment below with your thoughts on censorship in video games!

18 comments


MVGL's Favorite Games of 2015

Written by Thorrash on January 01, 2016 @ 7:28 pm

Hey everyone! 2015 has come to a close, and a lot of great games have been released and enjoyed by us all. We've put together some of MVGL's admins' favorite games from the past year. Hopefully you've had a chance to play them, but if not you should add them to your to-play list!

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Blizzard)

Picked by morgan

As someone who has never gotten into or had any sort of interest in card games, Blizzard has done a fantastic job sucking me into the world of Hearthstone. Being able to play within a world and with characters that I'm already familiar with was just one part of it. Blizzard made this card game dead simple, anyone could pick it up and understand the mechanics of it in a short amount of time. I also very much enjoyed how they offered downloadable content at a decent price which enabled me to play solo and not against a real person. I also enjoyed working hard to get the unique card back for each month. The game lends itself to generally quick matches so it was easy to pick up and play for 15-20 minutes without having to worry about spending an hour or more between save points as with a traditional game. I'm excited to see what 2016 has to bring for Hearthstone!

Star Wars Battlefront (Dice/EA)

Picked by jimmyb

This year has been incredibly busy for me, so finding a game that I could get a few quick matches in without having to dedicate hours at a time was a big deal. As a huge fan of Star Wars and the shooter genre, I chose Star Wars Battlefront to be my game of the year. Yeah, it crept in at the end of the year, but I can honestly say it's the game I've had the most fun with in 2015. I love the large and highly details maps. I love being able to fly an X-Wing or hop into an AT-ST to blast away some rebels. I highly enjoyed playing the Supremacy and AT-AT Walker modes for multiplayer. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the DLC is going to offer in 2016.

Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void (Blizzard)

Picked by BroRocker

An epic conclusion to the Starcraft II story, Legacy of the Void is probably my favorite of the series. The missions are diverse, fun, and even challenging when they need to be. Both old and new, the characters in this game are great and I really like the closure we get on all of their stories that go all the way back to the first Starcraft in 1998. Also, the cut scenes in this game are stunning and probably the best Blizzard have ever made. To top it all off, they’ve added co-op missions which only add to the already top-notch multiplayer experience. All in all, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void is a great game that is the pinnacle of one of the greatest franchises in gaming history and that’s why it’s my game of the year!

Heroes of the Storm (Blizzard)

Picked by Thorrash

Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard's long-awaited entry into the MOBA scene. As the grandfather of the genre (since Warcraft III was where DOTA was born), Blizzard had a lot of hype to live up to. I would like to say that they delivered with Heroes of the Storm. The major difference between Heroes of the Storm and its competitors is simple: accessibility. Heroes is much more streamlined than League of Legends or DOTA 2, but that's not a bad thing. I don't feel like I need to keep a sheet of mandatory builds or items just to be competitive, and I don't feel like I need to spend hundreds of hours playing to be as good as other people. Maps are one of Heroes most defining differences as well. Each map has objectives that you want to complete to win the game. Some maps have you taking over an area to use turrets, gathering items to summon monsters, and more. Heroes of the Storm almost feels like the Super Smash Bros of MOBAs. Not only is it accessible, but you get to romp around with established characters from your favorite Blizzard games while doing stuff the competition doesn't offer.

Splatoon (Nintendo)

Picked by notjim99

Nintendo gave Wii U owners a treat this year with their newest IP, Splatoon. Taking the tried-and-true formula of the online shooter and giving them the good old Nintendo spin, Splatoon shows gamers that online shooters don't need to be filled with gore and grunge. Gamers this year have enjoyed Splatoon so much that it won "Best Shooter" at this year's The Game Awards, beating out high profile releases like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Halo 5.

Disgaea 5 (Nippon Ichi Software)

Picked by soullesssolace

Disgaea 5 brings NIS's flagship series to the PS4, along with all of its crazy demonic antics. D5 adds a number of features to this tactics series, including fusion skills between certain characters and a revenge system that gives units a bonus when their allies fall in battle. Disgaea 5 offers over 100 hours of entertainment for die-hard fans, along with the comedy you've come to expect from the franchise.

Rocket League (Psyonix)

Picked by BroRocker, Thorrash

Soccer with rocket-propelled race cars. How crazy is that concept? Rocket League shows just how insane that concept is with this gem of a game. Rocket League gives players high-octane, fast-paced matches that keep players coming back for more. Need more proof? This indie game won "Best Independent Game" and "Best Sports/Racing Game" at this year's The Game Awards, and was nominated for "Best Multiplayer Game."

Let us know what your favorite game of 2015 was in the comments section! Hopefully 2016 bring even more amazing games for us all to enjoy. Happy New Year!

10 comments


Happy Holidays!

Written by jimmyb on December 27, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

Happy Holidays everyone! Today we've rolled out version 6.0 of the site. I hope everyone enjoys it. We'd very much appreciate it anyone who comes across a bug or an issue while using the site to report it to our Bug Forum.

We'll be continuing to work on this template and adjusting any issues we see. We hope this year to add some new functionality into the site. I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates this past year. I have taken on a new job at my company and haven't been able to dedicate any time to the site. I've also got a couple other web projects I've been working on. If only I could be paid to work on this site, I definitely would!

Of note, at this time we have also closed off game requests as we're simply far to back logged at the moment. We have something like 1500 pending requests in the forums and 2200 pending requests in the queue. Once we're able to get these down to a manageable place we'll re-open requests.

Have a safe, fun and game filled holiday season! 🎮

4 comments


Are Yearly Releases Worth It? An Analysis of a Growing Practice

Written by Thorrash on November 28, 2015 @ 10:52 am

Yearly franchise releases are nothing new – sports games have been releasing a new entry every year since 1990 and John Madden Football. However, more and more developers are taking part in this trend than ever before. Developers such as Activision-Blizzard with Call of Duty, Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed, and even lesser known developers like Gust and the Atelier series have all hopped on the bandwagon. But is that bandwagon bringing them to a good place? Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of the practice, and get a better understanding of why some companies take part in yearly franchise releases.

The Negative

One of the noticeable downsides to yearly releases by critics is sales. Sales of new yearly franchise entries are sometimes lower than their predecessors for multiple reasons: brand fatigue, poor production value, and a market flooded by the franchise are just some of these reasons. There are plenty of gamers out there that are fans of yearly franchises, but don’t have the time to keep up with yearly releases – for instance, after playing Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation at launch in 2012, I didn’t touch the next entry, Black Flag, until just last month. Some people who fall behind choose to wait to purchase newer entries until they catch up or when the price drops – inevitably hurting sales numbers.

Companies such as Activision-Blizzard and Ubisoft have seen a decline in the sales of their franchises’ yearly releases. Assassin’s Creed Unity, one of Ubisoft’s 2014 major titles for the franchise, sold slightly over 6.5 million copies globally according to VGChartz.com. In comparison, Assassin’s Creed II has sold over 11 million copies worldwide. New Call of Duty titles have been underselling their previous installments for the past few years, and franchises like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are now releasing new installments after years of hiatus, possibly due to brand fatigue.

However, this trend may not be all its hyped up to be from the community. Looking at the sales of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it’s hard to find a correlation between yearly releases and negative sales. In fact, sales had increased yearly for the franchise between 2010 and 2012, and 2013’s Black Flag had sold almost as much as its predecessor (albeit on 5 consoles versus 3). Even when new entries perform worse than the previous one, games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare still sell enough titles to be considered financial blockbusters.

Another massively cited downside to yearly releases is production value. When Assassin’s Creed Unity launched last year, it was marred by frame rate issues, fatal errors, and graphical glitches that had caused players to become vocally distressed. It has been an increasing trend for video games to launch with bugs and errors that require Day 1 patches. Instead of taking more time to test and produce a game, some companies are pushing games out to meet their release windows. Incidents like this have long lasting repercussions...or at least long enough for the next installment to release. According to Ubisoft executive Alain Martinez, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s sales have been affected by Unity’s poor reception, as seen in Syndicate’s opening week sales being some of the lowest that the franchise has seen, only higher than Assassin’s Creed: Rogue which released alongside Unity to little marketing fanfare.

Some developers have taken the downfalls of yearly releases to heart, and have taken steps to break the cycle. Gust, the developer behind the JRPG Atelier franchise, recently delayed their next title to “further enhance the game’s quality.” During a Q&A session at this year’s Blizzcon, Blizzard Entertainment employees answered a question about Blizzard’s claim last year that they would aim to release new expansions yearly. “Faster launch is still the goal, we don't know if we'll get to one a year,” they said on stage. “Our overriding commitment is to quality.”

The Positive

Yearly releases aren’t all negative, though. For developers and publishers, these yearly releases generally give them a reliable source of revenue that allows them to continue making new games, both in the franchise and out. The more money a developer makes off of their established franchises, the more they have to put into a new IP. When it comes to using franchise funds to create new IPs, Blizzard Entertainment is a great example. World of Warcraft brings in large amounts of revenue for the company, along with new entries in their established franchises like Diablo and StarCraft. In recent years, Blizzard has used that revenue to create new, exciting games like Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.

There are plenty of gamers who are happy with yearly releases, too. New versions of Just Dance offer new songs for you and your friends to dance to, and Call of Duty offers new maps and weapons to play around with. If sales numbers are any indication, there are still millions of people who enjoy running around new historical locations as assassins, playing sports with the latest rosters, or shooting against online opponents for hours on new maps. If people didn't enjoy these franchises that release yearly entries, then we wouldn't be talking about them in the first place!

How do you feel about yearly franchises? Do you think they’ve had a positive or negative affect on series that you like? Let us know in the comments section below!

3 comments


MyVideoGameList - v6.0.0 - Update #1

Written by jimmyb on November 21, 2015 @ 4:00 pm

Greetings!

We've been working hard on the next version of MyVideoGameList. While we've only got a single screenshot of 6.0.0 to show you, hopefully it gets everyone excited. We're planning to have a much cleaner and easier to use interface to start with.

MVGL 6.0.0

Larger Image.

We'll be continuing to work hard and push for a release on or before December 30. In the mean time we hope you enjoy this small sneak peek and hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving, Christmas/Holiday season!

10 comments


Fall 2015 Update

Written by jimmyb on October 25, 2015 @ 6:54 pm

Howdy folks.

It's been quite some time since we lasted updated you all. I have been extremely busy and simply don't have the time nor energy to keep the site properly updated with code fixes and new features. I sincerely apologize for that. That said let me fill you in on what's going on.

Presently we've had very little time to do any real work on the site. What few volunteers we do have, have been working hard to process the massive amount of game requests we receive. Unfortunately as you've likely noticed we've fallen quite behind with handling them. Nonetheless we're continuing to leave the request forum open and we will handle them as best we can. If anyone is interested in joining our team please check out our jobs page!

We've recently updated the template on the site, and to be honest, we're not 100% in love with it. It was a rushed job and a poor one at that. For that we greatly apologize. If everyone has some patience we have already picked out a new template and would like to have the site updated to use it by December 31, 2015. I know this might seem like a while, and 2 months is a bit away, however given the time constraints we aleady have that is what we can commit to at this time. I think you're all going to like the new layout, and t's look and feel 😄 It should be a lot more mobile friendly as well!

A final word, I thank you all for checking out and using MyVideoGameList.com, if I could make it a full time job I really would. The community has been incredibly supportive, we've had some fantastic ideas from members and I've been able to meet some really wonderful people. I'd like to take a minute and thank all those who have volunteered and to those who have stuck with us. I'd like to make a specific shout out to nagizuma who has been with us for quite a long time now and has done an awesome job knocking out many many game requests. I'd also like to thank morgan who has worked countless hours developing the code which runs the website. I am so thankful I have been given the opportunity to create this community and bring together all sorts of gamers. We have 2 more months left in the year, and we'll be working hard to add more games into the database, bring to you a new layout and hopefully a new feature or two!

Thank you. ❤ 🎮

12 comments


MVGL v4.0

Written by jimmyb on March 06, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

Today we've pushed out a huge bunch of code. We call it version 4.0. While we certainly expect there to be some bugs and broken things, we're hoping there's not to many. If anyone comes across something which isn't working and hasn't already been reported in our Site Issues and Bug Reports forum, please, please, please (!!) open a new thread and report the issue you're seeing. Please include as much information as possible and give screenshots as necessary. We'd like to get all the bugs squished before we start working on any new features.It should also be worth noting that we're still working on styling and resolving issues in the forums, so if the forums seem a bit wonky, note we are continually working on them!

Have a great weekend everyone! Don't play too many games!

Psssht, who are we kidding, GAME AWAY! 🎮

😄

11 comments


New Game List Category - Help Us Name It!

Written by jimmyb on February 18, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

We've been recently discussing internally on the team that it may be time to add a new category to our game lists. We see a need for another category that allows us to categorize games which we're perpetually and possibly infinitely playing. Games that come to mind in this category would be games which may not have a set end, titles like World of Warcraft, or playing multiplayer Call of Duty or Counter Strike, or even The Sims.

We'd like to reach out to the community to help us come up with a name for this new category. Please give it some thought and let us know what you think the name/title of this new category should be called. Leave your suggestion in the comments!

25 comments


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