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"Kingdom Hearts", "MechWarrior" and 2019s delayed gaming sequels

On Friday it finally happened: Kingdom Hearts III came out. Only in Japan, granted but without a catastrophe – which would not be a shock if Kingdom Hearts is affected – will be the extremely long-delayed sequel to 2005 Kingdom Hearts II worldwide on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next Tuesday end the release as a maze as part of the series' game titles ( Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue ) and Plot Points.

Mobile, handheld and browser based games count – but no collections and remasters count ̵

1; Kingdom Hearts III is the 12th installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, an action RPG crossover between Disney and Square Enix (the creators of Final Fantasy ), first released on PlayStation 2 in 2002. It only took three and a half years until Kingdom Hearts II came out, but the next direct console sequel languished in developing Hell for more 13 years before proving that it was not. Although the 2013 game was officially announced at E3 , it was already developed in 2010. Discussions between Disney and director Tetsuya Nomura started in 2006.

Perhaps the most surprising part of Kingdom Hearts III s long-delayed release – apart from the fact that the game obviously did not get lost during its protracted development – is that the game is not the furthest sequel released in 2019. Polygon List of the most anticipated titles of 2019, including Kingdom Hearts III also Shenmue III (18 years since previous installment), MechWarrior 5 (17 years), Psychonauts 2 (14 years), Devil May Cry 5 (11 years), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 (10 years), Crackdown 3 (nine years) and Rage 2 (nine years), in addition to two more upcoming sequels that have not yet received release dates, Beyond Good & Evil 2 (16 years) and Metroid Prime 4 (12 years). In accordance with the theme, the best-selling game in Japan was Kingdom Hearts III the road date Ace Combat 7 the first entry in the long-term phase Central continuity of the missile series since 2007 Ace Combat 6 .

Some of these unreleased games may well be in or beyond 2020, further extending the time between sequels. The examples above do not have identical lineage histories, but taken together, this barrel of sequels to older games reflects some of the possibilities in which the present conditions of the video game industry have matured for the revival of long dormant concessions. In an increasingly overcrowded and risky market, where development costs are constantly rising, publishers are looking for identifiable names, even though they are tied to series that no longer seem to work.

Video game data is hard to come by and therefore difficult to track the frequency of such sequels over time. Although we have received records from the NPD group of game publications grouped by franchise from 2000 to 2018, the pre-2000 data are sporadic, and even the information after 2000 is due to the plethora of platforms on which Games, the presence of spin-offs, and the tendency for remix and remaster versions of games to appear, even if there are no full-fledged sequels. The distant sequel is not just a phenomenon of the year 2019: follow-ups have their sweet time in the past few years from the infamous long-delayed shooter of 2011 Duke Nukem Forever and the same year taken. Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 to lesser-known examples such as Deception IV (2014), Carmageddon: Reincarnation (2015) and V-Rally IV (19459004 ) (2018). But it will soon be a deluge, and it does not look like a coincidence.

The first and simplest reason why so many sequels come after the games is that the games are getting bigger in size and need a lot of time and money to earn. "If an AAA game needs three or four years, if all goes well, then a delay in starting the sequel, a significant stumble in development, will push the consequences further," says Brendan Sinclair . North American editor of gamesindustry.biz via e-mail. Last year's best-selling game, Red Dead Redemption II came out eight-and-a-half years after Red Dead Redemption and was in a grueling development all along with three delays. That's what it took to create a game with a world of unprecedented detail and enough content for performing players to last on average more than 140 hours.

Kingdom Hearts III is another entry in the category "Making modern games complicated". KH III took so long, explained Nomura, partly because technological advances over three console generations have called for a migration in the midst of the evolution from one internal game engine to the more powerful Unreal Engine 4 due to competition from others Square Enix projects. Nomura himself helped in the period between Kingdom Hearts II and III with several Final Fantasy titles.

. in development for a decade or more; These are projects that were created after a fallow track for a franchise. They are becoming more common because reviving a series is a relatively low-risk approach to the arms race in the industry. "It's a hit business and the big publishers (EA, Activision and the like) are pursuing a strategy of fewer, bigger and better titles," says Sinclair. "And if you're competing in this area, you either have a mega hit that you update at most every few years, a whole new thing that you want to make a big deal (very risky), or you're looking for money on the couch ,

In this last category comes the distant continuation: It is the product of a well-known but not capitalized commodity that is already in the portfolio of a publisher or readily available. A license with a significant history, says Sinclair, is "something you know it already has a fan base on which you can build – something that attracts attention without you having to exert so much pressure. Something old enough that it could probably benefit from modern tech and gameplay conventions.

This name value is especially important for single-player games on a big budget, a class that includes most of the profile's distant sequels along the way. This group of games, industry analyst of NPD Group says Mat Piscatella via email, "is currently experiencing a disruption and competition from the growing strength of service-oriented multiplayer games such as Rainbow Six Siege , Destiny Call of Duty PUBG and Fortnite [and] The concomitant increase in importance of downloadable content and microtransactions driven by an ongoing shift in the reasons why people play and away from lonely Game experiences towards more social.

This pair is putting pressure on making single-player-centered, offline-oriented games enormous, and the competition of thousands of new indie games is flooding Steam and other online marketplaces, and "the likelihood of profitable success, especially with single-player-focused AAA content, it's getting harder, "says Piscatella. This makes risk minimization more important and reinforces the temptation to pursue an existing IP that could make consumers nostalgic enough.

In this sense, the rash of distant sequels in the interactive realm does not differ from the rise of rampant restarts and remakes. We've seen in movies and on television where established attacks on scripted content are established brands that stand out against the background of bottomless originals. gives a high priority. After the first release of MechWarrior since 2000, many players may think, "This is a name I have not heard for a long time"; At least it's a name they've heard at some points and possibly one with positive associations from a formative phase in their game pies. This title could be worth a longer look, where another game would get glassy eyes.

Some series long after their "Continue?" – countdowns had sequels, seemed to run, were no financial successes; Shenmue Beyond Good & Evil and Psychonauts were to varying degrees commercial duds. In the cases of Shenmue and Psychonauts crowdfunding came to the rescue, proving that an audience existed for continuations of the cult titles, which directly led to followers being green-lit. Psychonauts raised nearly $ 4 million on Fig. While Shenmue raised more than $ 7.1 million for Kickstarter and other crowdsourced platforms. This made it the most funded game in the site's history and one of the most heavily-funded projects of any kind.

"Crowdfunding tended to be one of the things that [is] was equally interesting to other investors or partners, as development funding, "says Piscatella. Even $ 4 million or $ 7 million can not cover the entire cost of a big, modern game. Piscatella adds, "It turns out that some people are ready to raise the product in advance for years, which can magically become a sales forecast with some creative extrapolation." The publisher Starbreeze provided $ 8 million for distribution Psychonauts 2 During Shenmue received additional monies from Sony and the publisher Deep Silver. Although Kickstarter's support for video games is beginning to fade, it is still a viable option for past but not forgotten games to release sequences – or reboots or spiritual successors – years after closing the usual release window. And more and more publishers – some stand-alone companies and some indie-targeted businesses within larger companies – are seeking to work with smaller developers who may be considering intellectual property inerting.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 could be a madness bringer another new model of distant sequels. The successor to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 from 1945 is developed by Team Ninja and released by Nintendo and will be available exclusively from Switch. "The console manufacturer's digital marketplaces are today the leading retailers of content on consoles," explains Piscatella. "Console manufacturers also know that exclusive content is one of the biggest buzz and motivation to buy." This changes the risk / reward calculation for console manufacturers: if they help to finance or distribute a sequel in return for exclusivity, they can cut their costs This makes up for another selling point for their system. As a result, Piscatella says, "I definitely see a likely scenario where console manufacturers are playing a more active role in funding these games."

In the short term, the spread of distant sequels will likely depend on how the evolution is going on, which is currently driving up ticket prices financially. "When Kingdom Hearts III comes out [Tuesday] and sells well, taking the top spot in the January ranking and setting a sales record for the franchise, and [ Devil May Cry ] comes out and shows growth from the previous version. We could see more games of this kind, "says Piscatella. "The gaming industry always wants historical metrics that support future expectations. [and] You are shockingly happy to rely on outliers and exceptionally small sample sizes of successful titles. On the other hand, if most / all of these games flicker, well, the same goes for the other way. "

In the long term, however, all indicators point to a future populated by descendants of the past. In the gambling industry, as in most entertainment arenas of the time of incessant distraction, "What's dead, can never die" remains a reasonable strategy to persuade consumers not to take a break.

Thanks to Jessica Barbour for research support.

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