Is EA’s Sequel Cycle Running out of Steam?

EA Logo

EA, the publisher best known for all of the sports games, Need for Speed and more recently, project $10. Those are the top 3 things that you think of when someone says ‘EA’ .To me, when someone mentions the almighty publishing giant’s name, I think of the thing I have a love/hate relationship with : the sequel cycle. The sequel cycle is the process of releasing a game in a series annually such the FIFA games which are on shelves with a new year on the cover and few updates in the game, every year, without fail. The sequel cycle ensures that publishers are guaranteed money in their pockets and gamers are sure to get a bright, shinier and sometimes even better version of their favourite franchised games. Recently I’ve been surrounded by talk of games in the sequel cycle, such as UFC Undisputed 2010 and FIFA World Cup and it made me think about how annoying that damn sequel cycle really is!

Wednesday signaled by birthday. I was less excited about the extra candle on the cake than I was about getting some new games. Games to me are like brains to zombies, so of course I looked forward to getting Red Dead Redemption and Skate 3. Without a doubt when my birthday came around, Red Dead Redemption was played for at least 8 hours straight, with Skate 3, however, there it was sitting unopened in its packaging. Today, 3 days after I got the game I finally popped the disc in my PS3 and started playing. Only, I didn’t. I updated the game and went to watch TV , turning my PS3 off and not giving Skate 3 a chance to shine. When Skate 3 was announced, we were all worried that this would be another ‘copy & paste’ sequel that we’re beginning to see frequently. Sure, each game comes with a slew of new updates and a brand new back of tricks to play with but I think that we are starting to grow a little bit tired of the endless flurry of the same games, year after year. It’s easy to say ‘every game is better’ and yes, I would agree with you but at the end of the day, gaming is fuelled by original games and new IPs, something that EA has said it will support more, especially after the huge success of Dead Space. The sequel cycle will tumble down if it continues in this way, leaving creative, unique titles left to hold up the video game fort.

On the other hand, there’s a reason that EA and other publishers, such as Activision with their Guitar Hero series keeps attempting to sell more and more sequels, it’s because they work. There’s that age old saying that goes

If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it!

and it makes a good point. Why would publishers stop making sequels just because we’re fed up of them? If you ask me, there’s always someone who will buy your game, regardless of how much that latest movie tie-in sucks, there’ll still be someone willing to fork out some money just to buy it and it seems that in the case of sequels, there’s a lot of people who still love them. For example, as I sit here and write this I’m looking at my collection of games, which includes Saint’s Row 2, FIFA 10 (as well as FIFA 09) , God Of War 3, Skate 1, 2 & 3 , WWE Smackdown VS Raw 2010 as and Final Fantasy 13 just to name a few. Obviously I’m as susceptible to sequels as any of you (it’s a virus!) which shows that if they can slap a new paint job and add a few tweaks to a game, we’ll probably buy it, which is why we get so many sequels released, year after year. Plus, they come with features not seen before in games, but which could have been added years ago, all of which adds to the likelihood of us buying the game.

In conclusion, I think that yes, at the moment, the sequel cycle works and EA will be fine for the meantime and if they can give new looks to games such as adding the ‘flickit’ control system that they did with Skate they’ll be ok, but eventually kicking a ball around a field will still be the same game in 10 years as it will tomorrow so unless they can do something unique with their games, the cycle will be no more and EA will be left out of pocket.