Why are launch games so poorly received?

2 min read
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Bad Reception

It’s unusual to find a console launch title that scores exceptionally well; usually there are one or two hits and a wealth of middling games, which hardly makes jumping in to a new generation all that exciting. Why is that? Ubisoft has the answer.

"Right now, all publishers are transitioning their development resources," Ubisoft SVP of Sales and Marketing Tony Key told Gi.Biz. "For a game like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms. We can’t make a version for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that’s so wildly different that we can’t market them together. So, for now, developers and designers are focused on making a game that works really well on all of the systems – but as we transition resources to the next gen, it’s going to be more difficult to do that because the power of these machines is going to allow so much more creativity."

New franchises that launch with systems historically don’t do all that well, which is one of the reasons Ubisoft’s much-anticipated Watch Dogs has been delayed. Ubisoft really knows about these things, because when a new platform launches, they tend to support it really, really, well.

"It’s heartbreaking to be so coveted for launch and not be able to deliver it at launch, but from a business perspective, it’s not a difficult decision to make," says Key. "Watch Dogs is designed to be a long-term brand for Ubisoft. We won’t launch it until we know it’s equaling the vision it can achieve. … We’re playing the long game – and as a company, we know how important it is to get it right."

I think there’s even more to it than that. When a system launches it’s placed under a microscope, and all its games alongside it – and it’s far easier to see the cracks under intense scrutiny.

Last Updated: November 19, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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