This is not a condemnation of Electronic Arts, their business practices, or the people who work there. Truth be told, when I started on this "the industry is doomed" article, things were looking rather different then they are today. Heck with articles like this this becoming more common it’s hard not to have hope in a bright happy future. Thankfully my feelings quickly changed reading about Ubisoft's purchase of the Far Cry license. Long live the maddenification of the videogame industry!
What is "Maddenification"?
maddenification (mad-if-i-cation) adjective:
1. Taking a product normally produced on a "when-its-done" or other such inconstant schedule and shipping it on a regular schedule driven by shopping seasons and/or quarterly financial reporting schedules
2. Taking a product released in the past year, adding a handful of new features, and releasing it as a new product for full price.
3. Buying the rights to intellectual products simply to attach the "name(s)" to a product in a category where your company is either struggling in/or has never released a product in.
4. Cutting features found in the last version of your product in order to make the release date of the new product.
5. Making a franchise into a yearly-updateable product in order to maximize thinning profit margins and dwindling market share.
I'm not pointing my finger solely at Electronic Arts; because while I believe they created this current trend, they're not alone anymore. Just as baseball fans seemed to turn a blind eye to the ever growing biceps of players in the '90s, I believe that video game fans have done the same to the creation of these "updated" releases. And why not?
Where in the past gamers like myself might have only been able to enjoy a new Splinter Cell adventure every couple of years; now we're all able to sit back and guide Sam Fisher through a new story every year. The quality would even appear to be getting better every year thanks to small positive tweaks to tried-and-true gameplay mechanics.
However, maddenification goes beyond yearly updates and threadbare ports, it's a deeper problem that is bigger than the "original IP vs. sequel" debate currently being waged. I'm not going to sit here and rant against big corporations and try and convince you that our salvation lies in independent studios producing "innovative" titles.