While many popular game series have taken to an annual release schedule Nintendo have been reluctant to go down the same route as the likes of Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and the multitude of annual sports titles. In an interview with Examiner.com Nintendo of America’s Scott Moffitt explains why.
Nintendo’s biggest games, games like Mario Kart, Smash Bros, The Legend of Zelda, etc., rarely see more than one core game on each system. It’s somewhat refreshing to know that they have no plans to annualise the titles despite continued trends within the industry. According to Moffitt the reason they haven’t adopted the strategy is really quite simple, they want to make sure that every new game feels fresh and has a few surprised up its sleeve. As Moffitt tells it “We tend not to annualize our franchises, there’s not a new Mario Kart every year. What we’ve tried to do with the Wii U is first, create a fully featured really enjoyable game that has something for everybody, has surprises that you’ll discover as you play through levels and it gives you a good amount of quality entertainment,”.
Instead we have seen Nintendo finally embrace DLC. It’s a move that has fans both excited and nervous. Excited that Nintendo have a way to keep the games new and interesting while they wait around 5 years for the next full title and nervous that they might start to facilitate some of the nastier elements of DLC where content is cut from the original game to be sold on later or resources are moved away from the core game to help fund unnecessary paid additional content. “For fans who love [Mario Kart], we’ve released extra content over time so that it keeps the game fresh and allows them to experience more than they could when they originally bought the game. That’s the approach we take, rather than annualizing the franchise, we are periodically releasing new courses, levels and features that keep people playing. We see a huge surge in gameplay hours on Mario Kart when we [release new content],” Moffit told Examiner. So far what has been seen from Nintendo has been reassuring with fairly priced and enjoyable DLC for Mario Kart 8 and a strong commitment to free DLC support in Splatoon.
Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule. Notably Moffitt discussed the example of Pokemon. Undoubtedly the most popular annual Nintendo release Moffitt argued that it’s all about guaranteeing that the game has something new to offer that justifies a new release. ““It all depends on the franchise, the developer and what new ideas they can bring to the franchise to move the gameplay forward and keep the franchise fresh. I think we always need to innovate and we need to always bring new ideas and new thoughts, but they have to be sufficient enough to justify the next release. Small, incremental changes may not be worth a whole new release,”. So far it seems that Pokemon fans are happy with the level of advancement brought through each new series whether it be new pokemon, improved visuals, new classifications types, or mega-evolutions.