Assassin's Creed director defends yearly releases

Creative director Alex Hutchinson calls argument over annualized franchises "strange," says yearly releases allow developers to keep franchises relevant.

Assassin's Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson has defended yearly releases for major franchises. Presenting today at GDC Europe (attended by Eurogamer), Hutchinson said he finds the argument over annualized franchises to be "strange," and noted gamers should be concerned about quality, not the frequency of releases.

Is every year too often for a new Assassin's Creed game? Hutchinson doesn't think so.

"I find it strange we've decided yearly is too often," Hutchinson said. "If Radiohead put out an album every month, I'd buy it. It's about the quality."

Hutchinson went on to explain that releasing annual sequels allows Ubisoft to keep the Assassin's Creed franchise "in people's minds" so that the publisher can "keep telling the story."

The Assassin's Creed franchise launched in 2007 with the praised original, and subsequent console and PC releases followed with Assassin's Creed II (2009), Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010), and Assassin's Creed: Revelations (2011). Assassin's Creed III is due out later this year.

Elsewhere during his talk, Hutchinson said the development team at Ubisoft is treating Assassin's Creed III not only as a new game, but as an "entirely new franchise."

"Assassin's Creed III is as displaced from Assassin's Creed II as much as Medal of Honor is from Call of Duty," Hutchinson said.

Set during the American Revolution, Assassin's Creed III features a new protagonist with a mixed Native American-English heritage. Named Ratohnhake:ton but going by Connor, the hero of Assassin's Creed III will inject himself into the ongoing struggle between the Templars and the Assassins. The game is being built by Ubisoft Montreal and six collaborating studios on a new engine called Ubisoft-AnvilNext.

Assassin's Creed III will arrive for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 30, with a PC version following in November. A Wii U version is also in development, though its release date remains unknown. For more on Assassin's Creed III, check out GameSpot's latest preview.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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233 comments
simomate
simomate

Annual releases are good in the short run, but they make a series go stale really fast. 

jyml8582
jyml8582

Annual release will be justified when they stop recycling the same code base with the same bugs, and start beefing up the integrity of the story. they have some guts to make that announcement after they completely napalmed AC3.

Trev9421
Trev9421

As long as the game is good, no one gives a flying monkey crap how often it is released. If you don't want to play a new one every year then don't stinkin buy it.

 

Either way,  If it takes too long people complain it's not as good as the time spent waiting would have you believe, if it takes too little, people assume they cut corners. Society IS going to bitch about something no matter what.

old_man_mossy
old_man_mossy

oh, Lord, my typos...lol...serves me just, to try and put time in half asleep....

 

I'll be going now...slepp drunk.

 

To my unknown friends on the box and trey...enjoy your game tomorrow ;)

 

Just awhile longer for me.

old_man_mossy
old_man_mossy

Quality with a game three years in the making could be maintained with a year latter release; very true point.....but only in the most stripped down, new feature limited, state we've come accustomed too with many a game (that damn them, are still enjoyable, to me atleast)

 

I'm thinking it would be a very gifted dev staff that could maintain the excitement and multi faceted new features this one does, in that same time frame. So much newness, from duel wield, to ship combat, to annimations and the skyrim want to be feel I get from watching the NPC interaction..then their is the homefront or whatever is called...

 

The years are telling....I expect this single game to dwarf the others.

 

Also, while I know you are aware this game spans 30 years in conners life, during the Revolutionary war and there after, weather it be pigion holed or not is dependent on the speed of the campaign. I'm curious where that goes and how well its implemented...but 30 ears...1/3 of a mortals lifespan....well it can either be shoe horned  in an obvious flawed way... or epic, lol, time will tell.

 

(I spent close to 30 years in Morrowind gametimee for one of my characters, and there mode of keeping time was natural enough for my telvannie by the way I RPG'd him)

 

Thanks for your response, btw...I agree that 30 years sho horned into a game demands alot of that game to overcome the 'quantum mechanics' with a single person running the role of protaganist....but ass the old adelage says...time flies when your having fun.

 

I'm just hoping this whole Desmond crap takes a back seat. AC has never interested me at all intill Conner, and as much as I'm on the fanbus, and watched the vids..I have no care, worry, or interest with Desmond or the sandbox/renissance gang.

soitgoes19
soitgoes19

He would.

 

Quality can be maintained with relatively frequent releases, but the fact that annual deadlines have already been decided upon makes me very skeptical. Instead of just developing the game and letting it happen at it's own pace it is being shoehorned into a very specific timeframe. They're stretching or cutting the storyline to fit the timeframe, when it should be the other way around.

 

old_man_mossy
old_man_mossy

Practice makes perfect...it also takes time.

 

When I buy the game this man has been a director on...a game in the works for 3 years, that has a new engine and fleshed out, thought over, and inventive scenerios...well could he build it just as good in one year?

 

I'm not sure. While I agree people should worry more about quality than release schedules; I find that time influences them both, and that mastering and detail work on a product is something worth more, atleast to me.

dbzpranav
dbzpranav

He hit the nail on the head when he said its quality that matters and not the frequency. And for a couple of yearly releases, Brotherhood and Revelations have amazing quality, I'm still in awe at how much they achieved in a year especially considering the detailed world and all, but you CANNOT argue with the face that neither holds a special place in the heart of fans like AC II did, now that was something special and unless you can replicate that in yearly releases gamers are going to be against it. My gut feeling is that AC III will be something special and no gamer is gonna care how soon it came out if its good enough.

danielpetermoll
danielpetermoll

they dont start developing just 1 year before. i read somewhere that ac3 has been in production for more than 3 years. i do agree though for the fifa serries those games r just way to similar

games_are_fun71
games_are_fun71

This was a horrible argument by Alex. How did he defend that yearly releases are better and that this argument is strange. He said it is about the quality, which I agree with but game developers need more than a year to make a good quality game. Thus why usually games are released every 2 to 3 years. This argument is completely relevant and isn't strange in any way and Alex's argument was bad.

SoNin360
SoNin360

The problem is with the games being too similar to their predecessor(s), which is one of the faults of the AC series, especially with the yearly releases. Just because the previous game was a success doesn't mean you need to basically copy and paste and call it a sequel. Just because a series isn't tossing sequels out every year doesn't mean it isn't relevant. 

Devin-B
Devin-B

I stopped reading after he used the words "Radiohead," "monthly," and "quality" in the same phrase.

NTM23
NTM23

I don't mind as much as the game is good, I personally am not worried about AC3, but that's not to say the same thing about the whole topic in general, just for Assassin's Creed 3, it does look different, and it looks good. The biggest problem with yearly releases is the whole money side of things.

snowSHO
snowSHO

Half Life 2 was released 8 years ago and it is still pretty damn relevant. Make a great game, and people will remember it. Over-saturate the game, and people get bored. 

thingta42
thingta42

Same thing with COD After MW2 i lost complete intrest in the series after i realized that hey! this is the exact same game with the exact same engine with the exaxt same guns as i played last year. Complete with more 15$ mapapcks with half of those maps reused from previous games.

 

Seriously, What do people see in COd that makes them play it for hours on end? I just loose intrest in yearly games. Only thing i get from it is that the publisher is greedy.

thingta42
thingta42

Not really. It's only now that i feel ready to play a new game in the series. I played the first one thought it was okay. But its only now that i feel ready to play a new game in the series.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

This generation of games have been sort of(well VERY Id say) Tarnished by bad business practices. On-Disc dlc,inundation of main page ads,and one of the worst of the crimes....annual cash in sequels..I generally distance myself from those because to me they are just Triple A Shovelware! When they make these games(AC,CoD,Madden etc) the problem is they never take into account the stuff they do right in games and maybe make dlc for 2 years that may for instance improve multiplayer, fix game bugs or add new missions(I thought that was what dlc was for...or am i wrong). No instead they release sequel after sequel and slightly improve graphics just to build hype on a game at E3 or something so it sells.Though I liked the first 2 Assassins Creed games, the following 2  AC games really brought nothing to the series and were clearly made as a cheap cash in.

I really dont feel that sequels should be released so closely together timewise in general weather it be games or movies. Also in Games Sequels really shouldnt be released unless theres dramatic improvement content wise from the previous game.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

People don't like yearly releases because when you do it the games suck.

 

Look at the difference between AC1 and AC2, then AC2 and Brotherhood and Revolutions.  It's the same damn game with small pointless additions (tower defense?  REALLY?).

 

Neither game is as good as AC2 was.  Neither game advances your series.  And Guitar Hero has already shown proof of what spamming releases does to your series - it doesn't make it relevant, it makes it crap.

 

A good game takes 2.5 years to develop, MINIMUM.  Any less and we know you cut corners.

Henninger
Henninger

No annual releases of a game would make me not want to play it & i would get bored of it. I'm a COD fan but have grown to stop liking it cuz of the yearly installments. Nothing new. It gets boring. So please Ubisoft dont do the yearly thing with Assassin's Creed. I know you already started the trend but u can fall back on it after 3.

victorlamy
victorlamy

what a bunch of shit. gta and anything blizzard is still very relevant, tho AC is pretty soild 

ggregd
ggregd

It's well established that it takes more then a year to develop a game from scratch.  If the same devs are releasing annual games it means they're using existing technology and tacking on a new story and new art.  The problems are that the underlying tech is not capable of doing anything more than last year's version, so nothing really new happens.  Since it's a sequel intended play it safe and get sales by pleasing players of previous iterations, again, nothing really new happens.  This often leads to bestselling games every year, but it can also easily lead to franchise burnout - ala Gutiar Hero. 

 

IMO, two or three releases per franchise, per console generation seems like a viable schedule for keeping a game relevant and fresh.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

A lot of crappy pop music is released every month... and it's far from quality, maybe if they spent more time on it, instead of being pushed into things by money hungry publishers, they'd make something more reasonable.

Not to mention keeping something in someones head by smacking them in the face with it constantly, is a good way to get someone bored of it... Make a good game that leaves a lasting memory and people will want it more as time goes on.

J4m3sR4n0r72
J4m3sR4n0r72

I doubt we would be having as much CoD hate as we do if Activision didn't release a CoD game every year. Ubisoft is heading in that direction with the Assassin's Creed franchise. This is likely to lead to Assassin's Creed haters.

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

This guy can't get anymore wrong than he already has.......

elitejounin
elitejounin

Sometimes more of the same thing can be a good thing? Assassin's Creed 1 was awesome but when I finished, I found myself wanting more. More story, more Altair.

 

And that's exactly what I got with Assassins' Creed 2 (with Ezio), and I do agree that Revelations was a bit of a letdown, but they kind of expanded on the whole leader of the guild concept by having something like district leaders which felt like the natural next step in Ezio's growth.

 

The tower defence minigame on the other hand, felt tacked on and frankly it was just plain bad, given more time they might have realized that it sucked. 

 

So while having a game out every year might affect the some aspects of the game, if the overall quality is still there, I say go right ahead. But there has to be some kind of balance between speed and quality. (As evidenced by revelations.)

GreySeven
GreySeven

"Assassin's Creed III is as displaced from Assassin's Creed II as much as Medal of Honor is from Call of Duty," Hutchinson said.   - Oh yeah, right, right, right.  This is a perfectly reasonable thing to say.  Those two games are so freaking different!  After all, Medal of Honor has created stories that took place in World War II, against global terror threats, with iron sights shooting and regenerating health while Call of Duty has had stories of global terrorism, World War II, and iron sights shooting.  They are SO displaced from one another!  Right on, Hutchinson!  Right on... you... genius guy you.

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

He talks about quality but doesn't seem to get that that is the problem, AC 1 & 2 were both excellent and unsurprisingly had a 2 years plus development cycle for each then we get Brotherhood  as their first annual release and the game's quality drops. With revelations it drops again I can AC 3 is looking much better but from what I have heard  its been in development for more than a single year, I certainly hope so or we'll have another AC game that's altogether mediocre. Its for the sake of quality that we're opposed to yearly releases and lets face it the evidence is on our side.

tgwenz
tgwenz

Only a crazy person does this --> "If Radiohead put out an album every month, I'd buy it."

 

I spent two years playing Mass Effect and another two for ME2 and in each playthru I would find a new nugget of information or a corner I forgot explore etc and by the time the next sequel was announced I would be just about bursting with anticipation. Conversely I have never replayed an AC game except the first game...I wonder why.

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

this guy is just wrong, it doesnt matter how good something is, you can have to much of a good thing

 

i bought 1, 2 and Brotherhood all on launch day and it was my favourite franchise but iv still not even bought Revelations yet because i only managed to force myself to finish Brotherhood recently (because it was basically the exact same game as AC2)

 

you can definitely have to much of a good thing, even though i know AC3 game will be fantastic quaity, its just not exciting when a new Assasins Creed is anounced anymore

 

and that is definitely a problem that comes from yearly releases, if i had more of a gap between each game (and if there was more of a difference between each game) i would be much less burnt out and much more excited

Gater29
Gater29

You're absolutely right. It is about quality. If companies could put out yearly releases that are of high quality and worth the 60$ they are asking for, I'd be more than happy to pay for them. Its when companies start putting out yearly releases simply because it's the thing to do, with little innovation or improvements between titles, that I start getting a bit upset. If you want me to pay 60$ for a new game, it should feel like a new game, not the game I bought last year in a new wrapper.

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

it's funny because Duke Nukem forever took 12 years to be released and it was a total crap!At the same time Dragon Age 2 was also a degenerated game (but that's mostly because BioWare has become EA's little b****) It is obvious that both extremes HURT the quality of a game...Games shouldn't be released to early (annually is a joke) but at the same time they shouldn't be released to late.

DarthLod
DarthLod

This guy is smoking crack. Yearly releases RUIN the appeal and enjoyment of a franchise. They lose their luster and become stagnant. I don't even get excited about AC anymore because of it.

JACOBDRAGON666
JACOBDRAGON666

dosnt matter how long a game takes it can suck the moan focus is puting your heart and soul into it.loving it and puting all your hard work into it but dont rush or drag your feet to increase sales.

DesertLynx83
DesertLynx83

What is he talking about? Yearly releases hurt quality!

travo0159
travo0159

lol at this, hell at least AC is a good game, defiantly closer to being worth $60 than most garbage you buy today. This just goes to show some people will cry about anything wether it be overpriced DLC (that they still buy), special game services (that they still buy), and yearly game releases (do i need to say it). God bless hypocrites :)

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

 @Trev9421 What's worse, people complaining you "took too long" and cared too much about quality or people complaining because your game sucks because you didn't spend enough time developing it?  One kind of complaint goes away once you release the game, the other type remains FOREVER.

J4m3sR4n0r72
J4m3sR4n0r72

 @snowSHO

 You hit the nail dead center on the head! This is why yearly releases of a franchise is not just a bad idea, it's an extreamely what the f**k were you thinking are you out of your mother f**king mind s**tty idea.

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

 @JimmeyBurrows totally agree, if a game is good then the longer i have to wait for a sequel then the more and more i want that sequel, not having to wait for it gives me absolutely no time to get excited about it and that means when its released i dont really care

 

its very difficult to get excited about something when you only finished playing the previous game a few months before and the sequel looks very similar

J4m3sR4n0r72
J4m3sR4n0r72

 @tgwenz

 Why in the blue hell would Radiohead even put out an album every month? They would have no time to relax at home, go on world tours, etc.

Gater29
Gater29

 @NoDzombie Exactly! I love the AC series. I played AC1 when it first came out, bought AC2 when it first came out, and I even jumped on board Brotherhood (granted it was about 6 months after it came out). The first two games, I played through pretty much as quickly as you could because I couldn't put them down. They felt fresh, and I had a blast with them. I beat Brotherhood, but it was in between playing quite a few other games, and many times I simply got bored and had to come back later. I finally got around to playing Revelations (which I didn't even buy, I borrowed it from my brother) a few months ago, but I got halfway through and felt like I was just going through the motions.

travo0159
travo0159

 @DesertLynx83 Have you played GRFS? they spent years on that pile and its trash! 

my opinion of course.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

 @Trev9421 What?  No it wasn't.  Is this some kind of idiotic revisionist history?

 

Assassin's Creed came out November 13th, 2007

Assassin's Creed 2 came out November 17th, 2009

J4m3sR4n0r72
J4m3sR4n0r72

 @LoganWesker

 Exactly! If you release a game from a franchise every single year, people are going to be bored with it realy fast. We don't need nor want Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed overload. I feel like the games should have at least two to three years between releases for every franchise.

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

 @Gater29 yeah i just have absolutely no desire at all right now to play Revelations, and i feel i should play it before i play AC3, iv just had an Assassins Creed overload, i could do with a few years break from the franchise, that would get me excited about it again, i really hope they do that after AC3, but i get the feeling they wont, we will probably get a  spin off game again each year and then eventually AC4

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

 @Trev9421 1. That has nothing to do with what you said.  You said that AC2 came out a year after AC1.  That is flat out wrong.  Don't change the subject.

 

2. The handheld games aren't even made by the same dev teams.  They're outsourced to far inferior people which is why they all suck.

Trev9421
Trev9421

 @Thanatos2k Regardless of whether you want to think so or not, the handheld games are part of the series, and thus there has been one a year since 07...