Video game franchise leaves behind annual release schedule

Avid fans of the Need for Speed video game franchise now have something new to look forward to. Developer Ghost Games has just announced that the follow up to 2015’s rebooted Need For Speed has been scheduled for a 2017 release date. Neither Ghost Games nor publisher Electronic Arts have released details about the new game, but you can expect both studios to be extra careful with how the game will be packed in light of the ongoing upheaval surrounding the long-running racing game franchise.

It’s been known in the video game circles that the 2015 reboot marked a major turning point for the franchise. Gone are the days when fans expected a new game every year. That kind of schedule worked for a time as developers were able to tap into a variety of formats to satiate the appetite of gamers. Titles like Need for Speed: ProStreet featured street racing whereas games like Need For Speed: Shift had a touring-car simulation style. The franchise also tapped into the tuner-focused scene and the tried-and-tested police chase-styler racing. Eventually, the franchise itself became stagnant, forcing developers to take a step back and reboot the whole franchise with the release of Need For Speed in 2015.

Accompanying the release appears to be a new strategy of leaving behind the annual schedule that a lot of people point to as being one of the major reasons behind the so-called franchise burnout. So the next game, which has yet to find a name, isn’t scheduled to be released until 2017. Only time will tell if this new strategy turns out well for both Ghost Games and Electronic Arts, but whether it does or not, the extended time between the release of games should give games enough time to get their fill of the current titles.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

I’ll be the first to raise my hand if anybody asks about how stale the Need For Speed franchise got when it started releasing titles that didn’t really offer anything new. It was a frustration that I shared with a lot of gamers I knew so when Ghost Games, which absorbed the franchise from Criterion Games in 2013, and Electronic Arts decided to reboot the franchise in 2015, it was a welcome relief for hardened fans of the game.

Granted, the 2015 game had its share of issues, but by and large, the gamble paid off as the new game offered plenty of new features that jolted some life back to the franchise, enough at least to raise the expectations for the successor. Now that the developers aren’t in any rush to try to have a release in 2016, I expect that the extra time to develop the new NFS game would serve everyone better.

For Ghost Games and Electronic Arts, it gives them enough time to plan out what it wants for the new game without having to resort to using old tactics that stalled the franchise in the first place. As for gamers like me, I really don’t mind having to wait a little longer. It’s not like the schedule has been turned into a multi-year approach that is used by Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Every two years is more than enough time to develop and piece together a fresh game without losing interest in the current game that’s in the market.

I can tell you for a fact that I still play Need For Speed when time permits and with the release for the new game set for 2017, I wouldn’t mind the wait knowing that I can still enjoy what’s on the table. Hopefully, the sequel ends up being as good, if not better than the current title.

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