Earlier today, I was playing through Ratchet & Clank 3, because I'm playing through the series for the first time ever right now. This isn't a post about the quality of the games (because they're super great) but more about the timeframe of development. 4 games… in 4 years! I haven't played Deadlocked yet, but the 3 that I have played are really good.
This got me thinking about a bunch of pre-PS3 games that came out quite quickly.
Silent Hill. 4 games in 5 years. 2, one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved horror games, maybe games of all time, was released only 2 and a half years after the first game. 3, a game I and many others also love, was released less than 2 years after the second one.
Jak and Daxter. 4 games. 5 years. With the second and third being released barely a year apart. Hell, the 4th, Jak X, was released less than a year apart from the third one.
Metal Gear Solid. 3 well-beloved and brilliant games, (that could maybe be argued, haha) 6 years apart. Each game separated by 3 years.
Sly Cooper. 3 games in 4 years. With the second and third being separated by a year.
Grand Theft Auto. 3, VC and SA. 4. Year. Time. Span. All medium-defining games.
This is a non-exhaustive list, obviously. I'm sure there's a million different series you could point to. This ALSO isn't to say that no games released in this era of consoles are not developed in a similar timeframe. I mean, look at Yakuza. There's been a new game almost every year since 2005.
But these games were considered the cream of the crop. The top games. System sellers. Now it's not weird, rarely considered abnormal, that a game's development time is north of 5 years. I feel like, for some series that aren't even dead, it'll be quicker to list the time between releases in decades. It's not an impossibility that Grand Theft Auto will see a double-digit year count before it's next release. The Elder Scrolls has already gone a full decade without a sequel. In a decade, TES 3, 4, 5 and their various expansions were released.
The point of this post isn't to bitch and moan, it's to ask if such a time for big franchises will ever come again. As games get more advanced graphically and in animations, in scope and scale, it's perhaps an unavoidable reality that game development will get longer.
Is the reality of year, or even a decade between some sequels, just going to be a factor of game development forever? Or will new tools and maybe even AI development aid the development of games faster than before?
Side question: Many of these games were able to be released so quickly due to mechanical similarity. Would you be willing to play games that were mechanically similar, or perhaps even identical, if it meant that you could explore new worlds and experience new stories even faster?
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