Should sequels be phased out in favor of continuous updates?

As digital distribution has continued its gradual takeover, we've seen a lot more (mostly bigger indies) games take on a strategy of continous updates. Sometimes via DLC, sometimes as free-to-plays, more then a few making use of microtransactions.

This leads to an interesting question of at what point should the updates to the original stop, and a sequel proper emerge. Or should that not happen at all?

With a certain level of slowdown in technical advancement, even sequels with upgrades (nevermind the ones popped out on the same engines) are a sort of minimal improvement. There are other improvements in UI and so on, but those could be patched.

A case could be made for keeping games to a single entry in a generation, and simply iterating content onto that base game. Its actually a model that a few varying MMOs essentially already use. It could pool a vast amount of content into one package (giving at least the appearance of value, even if the DLC packs are charged as per standard), and keep playerbases unseparated for multiplayer titles. FRom a business side, you're essentially presenting the user with a catalog of possible products in one place (and hypothetically, this could benefit a consumer by compacting skins and so on all into one singular purchase rather then rebuying them every game, in theory).

On the con side, there is a problem of too much content. The "post release early access" game style where sweeping new mechanics and overhauls appear has a tendency to leave a lot of clutter in its wake. Stuff gets neglected as the new wave comes in, and a newcomer diving into GTA or Warframe (for instance) will be utterly befuddled without literally doing homework to figure out what they should be doing. More modular designs (like if you had "Assassins Creed with separated campaigns) doesn't have quite the same issue there, but poses another issue, as a game containing multiple campaigns can quickly become pretty bloated on the file size if not designed in such a way that the content is patched separately.

Of course, there are obvious real world concerns. Physical retail is basically incompatible with the idea. DLC for whatever reason seems to have been accepted as a lesser offering, when it should be more content for your dollar, given that technical engineering work for the game has been almost entirely done at that point. But is all too often (always?) not the case.

Besides MMOs, there have been other instances of this. Since emerging from their original publisher, Harmonix Rock Band series has stuck to a once per gen platform title (although the current iteration has had expansion packs). A handful of remastered (PC version) games have been free updates to original owners (most recently Red Faction Guerilla). Various games like No Mans Sky, Absolver, Titanfall 2, and others have (or have plans for) fairly substantial content updates landing months out of release date (Free in those cases). The recent Prey : Mooncrash DLC, while a bit slimmer on the time offering, is essentially a sequel of its base game, with its own substantial mechanical identity and variations.

No, I'd rather they stop giving support after a certain amount of time and move onto the next project. Take what made the previous game good and expand upon it.

I really, really wouldn't want this to happen.

Firstly, the piecemeal nature of continuous updates robs them of their excitement for me. I prefer a single, large content release-- whether a significant expansion or a sequel-- that I can then explore at leisure.

Secondly, once continuous updates on a single game have been going on for a while, the game starts to look more and more inaccessible. Starting it becomes more and more of an insurmountable undertaking. If we have separate games, you can play each regardless of how late you are to the party.

No because that immediately negates some of my favorite games, which are sequels in one way or another.
I get that your system would get rid of "sequels" that are little more than "we have all these assets from years of development" cash-ins but it would also aggressively limit storytelling within the each franchise.

No mention of Minecraft? Minecraft has been updates over updates for years, adding lots of different stuff (from new items, new enemies, to new whole ares).

I definitely don't want updates to replace sequels tho. Several old mechanics have been changed, making the game very different in ways that are sometimes detrimental to the previous experience. Updates means there is no vanilla experience, as the vanilla is changed with every update.

Another no here. I think the allure of continuous updates might coincide with the elimination of console "generations", but you run into the issue of nothing feeling "new" anymore. There's a fine line between when to stop supporting an older game, and when to introduce the next one; MP and digital distribution has only seemed to blur it. Sequels should be significant enough, with enough time between to warrant a new entry.

I think such a design philosophy rests on the assumption that sequels are almost more of the same which isn't the case. If Nintendo settled with just permanently updating Skyward Sword its engine and design philosophy would remain in place and as such the radically different Breath of the wild would never be made.

The Witcher 3 is different from the first two games and sticking within the constrains of those games meant we wouldn't have gotten The Wild Hunt.

This idea works well for relatively static franchises such as Ace Attorney but despite their reputation a lot of sequels actually are quite different from their predecessor.

CaitSeith:
No mention of Minecraft? Minecraft has been updates over updates for years, adding lots of different stuff (from new items, new enemies, to new whole ares).

I definitely don't want updates to replace sequels tho. Several old mechanics have been changed, making the game very different in ways that are sometimes detrimental to the previous experience. Updates means there is no vanilla experience, as the vanilla is changed with every update.

A comprehensive list would be kind of monumental. Its almost standard fare for MMO and Survival games, but I can get to at least a solid dozen other examples without even trying.

The original discussion elsewhere was around Warframe and a bit of Ark. And those are both kind of littered with the relics of abandoned mechanics, or stuff thats trivialized by later mechanics.

Doom was kind of brought up as a potential example. How much is Doom Forgettable Subtitle really going to vary that it couldn't be an expansion or mission pack onto Doom'16. Which would ironically be kind of going back to ID roots, back when thats literally how the stuff was released (usually with part 1 as shareware). And if the original game was being updated with improvements leading into the big addon, you add value to the original. (Dark Souls was another offhand example, although prior to Remastered, Dark Souls did only have 3 on current gen)

I...really don't know. Maybe? Depends on the game.

I mean, try justifying the idea of a "League of Legends 2" of "Dota 3." Look at MMOs, how sequels often end up splitting apart the fanbase (EverQuest is reportedly an example of this). Heck, Minecraft even. What's the point of a Minecraft 2?

Of course, you could point out that almost all of the above examples are multiplayer focused and/or free to play. So, in some cases, I think it would be a hard sell to make a separate product for a game that's been updated for years.

So on the other hand, there's singleplayer games. Now, DLC is fine of course, but a sequel gives one a chance to implement/improve mechanics, and get a larger scope than DLC will usually afford. So I figure if you had one product, and just released DLC to continue the story, you'd eventually start suffering diminishing returns.

So, either approach can work, but in general, I'd go for the following:

-Continuous Updates: Good for multiplayer focused games, especially if sold on the idea of a core product updated over time.

-Sequels: Good for singleplayer focused games. Useful for continuing story and/or updating mechanics.

Hawki:

So on the other hand, there's singleplayer games. Now, DLC is fine of course, but a sequel gives one a chance to implement/improve mechanics, and get a larger scope than DLC will usually afford. So I figure if you had one product, and just released DLC to continue the story, you'd eventually start suffering diminishing returns.

For the purposes of the hypothetical, let's assume you could get effectively the same market with a digital release, and wouldn't have to factor a lwoer budget due to not getting the physical retail segment (which is the only real reason DLC has for being smaller in scope, as I noted, on a strict development level, it should be bigger by the dollar because some/all of the technical framework is already developed so thats a huge chunk of development cost that can be rerouted strictly into content)

In short, no. A long NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

See, my uncle suggested this when I spoke about Kingdom Hearts and all of it's games. He said they should sell the extra worlds as DLC, so people could choose what they want, and the game is the same every time anyway. I said fuck no. The games are most certainly not the same every time and it'd fuck with what's already a confusing narrative.

No, I prefer to get my games whole. I don't want to play 2 hours worth of plot and then wait a month or so for the next release. I'd also like to see my games improve, or at least change, between releases.

MMO's, are a different beast, so I don't include those. Though it's high time certain games, like Call of Duty, ditch the yearly release and go yearly subscription.

Release a game, move on to the next. Repeat. Please.

It used to be FPSs, then RPGs, now it's live service MMO-lite, and MMORPGs. Ugh. Next, it will be space sims.

If you want to know about the horrors of Live services. Look no further than GTA5 Online. I consider GTA offline a 9/10 game. The Online is a cancer-filled virus that sucks money out of stupid kids for $hark Cards, so if you want everything in that game aka what you pay for. You need to grind like crazy or buy microtransactions.

That and I still pissed they dropped support for PS3 updates, but the shark cards, hangers, yachts, and being pay to play not pay to win pay to play after you have paid 29.99 to 59.99 for it.

Also, Rockstar used to release lots of great games, then after GTA5, they stopped. I know they are a business, but catering/preying on small children's parent's credit cards is never a good idea.

I also can't believe everybody took Rockstar's word on GTA online being a separate game. Complete, and utter horse shit.

Edit: This comes from someone who is going to buy Division 2, and Anthem(Maybe). And has brought ESO, Destiny 1, Division 1, and Destiny 2.

Not every game needs to be like this.

I'd say it works for some games better than others

Also sometimes it's nice for graphics etc to update between sequels, more ability for feedback to change systems etc

Also continuous updates seem bad for games with like... actual plot lines and stories and such

Since my previous post in this thread disappeared, I'll say it again.

No.
I want to decide when and if I update. Or skip an entire sequel, but play the next one.
Don't take away choices and options. Add to them instead.

Though I'm raging against the wind and tide, looking at how the market accepts the current direction..

For some games, like Minecraft, Warframe, League of Legends, DotA 2, Siege, PUBG, Fortnite etc. work better with the continuous update model.

However, games like Battlefield, CoD, Halo, Ghost Recon, The Division, The Witcher, Dishonored, Street Fighter etc. work better with the traditional sequel/expansion pack model.

 

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