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According to a new interview with Examiner via GameSpot, Nintendo of America's Scott Moffitt came forward to explain why, exactly, we won't be seeing these franchises popping up every year a la Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed nowadays.
Moffit explained that with games like Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, the team at Nintendo has tried to "create a fully-featured, really enjoyable game that has something for everybody" and "gives you a good amount of quality entertainment." I'd say Mario Kart 8 has succeeded in those regards, wouldn't you?
He continued, noting that for fans of the series, extra content has been released over time to keep the game fresh and for them to "experience more than they could than when they originally bought the game." Perhaps not surprisingly, the company sees a rise in gameplay hours in Mario Kart when new content comes out. It makes sense of course, because if there's a reason for fans to go back, they definitely will. That's adding value to a product that consumers have already purchased, and less work for the developers to have to roll out an entirely new game.
But when it comes to other Nintendo properties, Moffitt confirms that annual releases make more sense:
It depends on several different things for Nintendo to make the decision to annualize a franchise, and it sometimes happens that a specific title doesn't need enough changes to warrant a new release. And if you think long and hard about it, why would a yearly Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart make sense, anyway? It's already a little strange to get entirely new Madden titles and what-have-you year after the year, especially since they're basically the same collection of content with new faces and names after all this time.
"If you look at the Pokemon franchise, we have released multiple core games for the 3DS. We like to give fans something every year, but for something like Mario Kart or Smash Bros.,there may only be one version of that franchise in the whole console cycle."
Personally I'm just excited that Nintendo sticks to its guns when it comes to an issue like this, especially since companies often give into the pressure from a loud subset of gamers who don't always know what's right or even good for the franchise.
Nintendo seems to be doing well for itself with this strategy and going forward will be sticking to this model for the foreseeable future. Perhaps other companies will follow suit, since it really seems like a viable model.