Are Modern Games Dev Cycles TOO Long?

Pre-PS4/Xbox One consoles it was common to get ENTIRE trilogies in a 5 - 7 year console generation span.

Here are a few examples of game dev cycles of the prior gens

GTA 3 (2001) -> GTA Vice City (2002) - GTA San Andreas (2004) -> GTA IV (2008)
Splinter Cell (2002) -> Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow 2004) -> Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)
Burnout 2 (2002) -> Burnout 3 (2004) -> Burnout Revenge (2005)
Need For Speed Underground (2003) -> Underground 2 (2004) -> Most Wanted (2005)
Mass Effect 1 - 3 (2007 - 2012)
Dead Space 1 - 3 (2008 - 2013)
Gears of War 1 - 3 (2006 - 2011)
Metroid Prime 1 - 3 (2002 - 2007)
Halo 1 to Halo 2 (2.5 years)
Halo 2 to Halo 3 (3 years)
Zelda Wind Waker to Zelda Twilight Princess (4 years with a bunch of GBA/DS games in between)
Devil May Cry 1 (2001) -> Devil May Cry 2 (2003) -> Devil May Cry 3 (2005)

Keep in mind the successors to a lot of the following games brought forth new mechanics, that led to the matured state of game design today.

Here a few examples of modern game development cycle lengths.
GTA V Sequel (Approaching 10 years+)
Halo Infinite (6 years of development, and missing content Halo 1 - Reach had)
Red Dead 2 (8 years of development)
Horizon Forbidden West (6 years of development)
Cyberpunk 2077 (announced in May 2012, released in 2020)
New Elder of Scrolls (Approaching 12 years+)
New Fallout 5 (approaching 8 years+)
God of War (2018) to God of War Ragnarok (2022, with plenty of reuse)
Zelda BOTW to Zelda TOTK (6 years, with a lot of asset reuse)

The picture below is a timeline of Rockstar Games release schedule, this is just one example but it represents the actual state of the modern development cycle length.

As games continue to require more resources this length will continue to increase, we're already seeing the effects.

As game development cycles increase things get more challenging in terms of meeting the expectations of something such as E3, where people are expected to be "wowed" on an annual basis.

Sony knew this, and was exactly why they pulled out from E3 showings.



Final Verdict: Yes
 
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Raven77

Member
Oh boy......

Anyone wanting faster dev cycles is about to get their wish in the form of Ai. But at what cost?

  • Ai generated voice acting
  • Ai generated 3D objects and game assets
  • Ai generated textures
  • Ai generated game world's and levels
  • Ai generated animations (look up RADiCAL and DeepMotion)
The above is here already. Imagine 5 years from now...

Would you be okay with half the game dev industry losing their jobs in order to shorten the dev cycles?

Ai, true creative, discerning Ai, has always been an idea. A seed planted in the ground waiting to spring forth. I believe strongly that the release of DALL•E will be looked at decades from now as the moment that true Ai emerged from that seed, the smallest of green shoots. Now the real question from here is, will the seed bear a beautiful plant, a boon for humanity, or will it bring forth strangling vines that destroy one of our greatest attributes, our ability to create?
 
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Hendrick's

If only my penis was as big as my GamerScore!
The industry warned us this would be the case. No one listened but instead blamed Covid. AAA games have become huge cost and time sinks, and that's why we are seeing the exploration of alternative business models from all the big players.
 

Mr Hyde

Gold Member
I don't really think about it this way. There are so many games put out there today, so much variety, that there is always something interesting on the horizon. I don't think I've had a drought in at least 10 years. Maybe even longer.
 

DenchDeckard

Gold Member
Yeah. I think so.

I actually long for the day that we can have game pass or ps plus type tv show games that are still of high quality but are shorter experiences. Maybe a few hours 6 to 8 hours as like a season once a year. That would be awesome imo.
 
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mansoor1980

Gold Member
it is only a problem in those games where i cant find an alternative game to the particular game ..........for example there is no alternative to elder scrolls or fallout type games , so we are stuck with waiting for those games as there is no other game of the same type.
 

Pelta88

Member
Game dev length has been consistent. What's changed is that publishers have started revealing their games way too early to try and build momentum.
 

Lunarorbit

Member
Yes. Yes they are.

Not only that but the decision making at so many of these studios is brain dead.

For years people begged ubisoft to make a game in Japan. Ghosts comes out and is a major success so that's what gets ubi to move their ass? Sand thing with setting a game in India. What took you so fucking long? (shitty mobile games don't count).

Another example is Konami. Silent hill is dormant for decades. PT comes out. Hassan does his thing on the industry for a year. Oh, now there's 3 silent hills coming.

Suikoden has been dead for years. What's this, eiyudan chronicles made a shit load of kickstarter money? Put down the pachinko and gyms! Lets rush out this palette swapped suikoden.

Fucking dead space too. What's a callisto? Better remaster it now instead of working on it the last 10 years.

Shits played out and I haven't even mentioned embracer group. I think they have 70 games in development. 70! How about you slow down and actually release some of them first before you buy another dozen IP.
 

Robb

Gold Member
Yeah, although it also seems to me like the goal for most devs these days is to produce as few games as they possibly can..

A lot of devs seem to just try to produce a multiplayer cash cow that they can earn MTX-money from in order to not have to make anything else/new.

If that’s the goal the future is looking kind of dull imo.
 

midnightAI

Gold Member
Horizon Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok have each taken 4 years to develop (not 6 for Forbidden West), nothing wrong with that seeing the size of the games. the issue is announcing games too early, something Sony has now stopped doing but now gets criticised for being too quiet (damned if they do, damned if they don't)

Your comment about some asset reuse is silly, that happens on lots of game sequels it is not unusual, especially animations as you don't want known characters moving differently as that would be weird. Also, a lot of models are made at VERY high poly counts, much higher than used in realtime in the game, so those can be reused no problem.
 

Jaybe

Member
Overall yeah. We have cases like Plague Tale Innocence released May 2019 and its sequel Requiem coming out Oct 2022, so 3 years and 5 months. But Asobo seems to be a strong studio (also did MS flight sim in this time). Then you have Ninja Theory’s Hellblade, what I would say is a similar AA title release August 2017 and no date yet for Hellblade 2… maybe late 2023 at the earliest? I would I think with all the existing tech and assets developers have built up and most games being iterative than innovative, they could keep a solid every 4 year release schedule going.
 
They’re as long as they need to be and probably should be longer to avoid crunch and bugs. It comes with the territory of bigger and bigger ambition with games. The wait sucks but the AA market is superb so I never feel like there isn’t anything to play.
 
They’re as long as they need to be and probably should be longer to avoid crunch and bugs. It comes with the territory of bigger and bigger ambition with games. The wait sucks but the AA market is superb so I never feel like there isn’t anything to play.
This dosen't make sense.
 

Kurotri

Member
I think so too. These days you'll wait half a decade just for a sequel alone. I remember the God of War devs saying that the reason why the Nordic Saga turned out to be a duology instead of a trilogy is exactly because they didn't want people to wait another 4 years for the end to a story that started out 8 years ago. That would've been fucking insane and I'm glad Santa Monica did this.

We also have a problem of publishers announcing their games way too early. Some people have said that that is actually deliberate, as the purpose of such announcements are to be, basically, ads for developers to come and apply for the studio, as there's seemingly talent shortage everywhere because you need talent more than ever today. As for us who just want to play, we see these announcements and then there's radio silence for years and then most likely another long silence after breaking the initial silence, which is then followed by x amount of delays before we actually hold the game in our hands.

It sucks but what can you do?
 

deriks

4-Time GIF/Meme God
Modeling nowadays takes longer than ever

Publishers and producers changing the direction are way more present now

Sometimes direction wants more than can release in the window time promised, so they try to do damage control inside and forget about the consumer

Also, stupid people says that we need games with 20+ hours, or the game is automatically bad. So side missions are giving by the thousands, with developers putting here and there, and most of them are not creative or fun, so is a lot of time wasted on nothing
 

Ozriel

Member
There’s quite a bit of stuff wrong in the OP. For example, painting the picture that there’s been an Elder Scrolls game in active development for 12+ years.
Also, lots of stuff depends on the game genre and extenuating circumstances. The OP’s put multiple games that would have been impacted by the pandemic. And calling out games like GTA and Red Dead that are many orders of magnitude more detailed and intricate than the likes of the early Devil May Cry trilogy that’s cited in the OP is weird.

But certainly, games are taking longer to make these days as gamers demand more and more detail and more and more content.
 
Rockstar stopped making new games because of the success of GTA Online.

GTA shark cards and expansion makes the same money as selling a new game for them. Crazy, but that’s the truth and it’s much easier to make that than creating new games.

Also the pandemic was the main reason things slowed down in the last 2 years, mainly for AAA releases.

Another reason is studios are scrambling to make free to play games or live services games instead because that model has been shown to be very successful. So games are getting scrapped in favor of these new models which of course lengthens dev time.

Just think about it, micro transactions in Fornite rival the sale of some of the best selling full priced games. So why would a studio put out a new games every couple years when they could do the live service model. Most won’t succeed with it but publishers feel it’s worth trying.

You got to keep in mind creativity is second and money is the main driver of these decisions in the gaming industry.
 
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Rockstar stopped making new games because of the success of GTA Online.

Also the pandemic was the main reason things slowed down in the last 2 years.

Rockstar's actual game development timeline shows a decrease in output post-HD gen (PS360), which is basically the norm across the industry.

Game development cycles were increasing long before the pandemic.

The requirements on what gamers want in their $60 games have risen, and so has the time to make the actual games.
 
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The_Mike

I cry about SonyGaf from my chair in Redmond, WA
What causes the long development is the constant pushing of better graphics, better textures, better models etc.
 

EverydayBeast

thinks Halo Infinite is a new graphical benchmark
Just wait until the next metal gear solid you’ll be 10x older hopefully devs can get games out sooner.
 
Depends. Some.

Final Fantasy was my favorite franchise for the longest time. It might still be, but to a lesser extent.

We got 3 numbered main-line games in each of the NES, SNES, PS1 and PS2 eras. And those were among the best games still (excluding 2 and 8). And those generations were only about 5 years long each.

Now, we are getting 1 a generation and they're lower quality, despite being significantly higher budget and taking five times as long to make. 14 being the exception, but that game had to be made twice to get it right.
 
Rockstar's actual game development timeline shows a decrease in output post-HD gen (PS360), which is basically the norm across the industry.

Game development cycles were increasing long before the pandemic.

The requirements on what gamers want in their $60 games have risen, and so has the time to make the actual games.
The demand of improvement with each title has always been there. It’s not that, it’s just not lucrative to release new games as frequently.

Especially when you can make one live service game and build on it each year and sell micro-transactions.

The gaming industry has been in existence for decades now and like most industries, game development should have become easier and more efficient over time and I think it has.

The narrative that because “gamers demand more” isn’t the reason for the shorter game output. Just look at most of the games that are coming out. Most are free to play games and remakes because those games have been proven to make the most money.

Also if “gamers demand more” was a real issue why would studios continue to release cross gen games?

100% of the decisions that drive this stuff all come back to finding ways to shorten dev work and increase profits. That’s why we see less games being released and for the games that do release they are mainly live service .
 

Clear

Member
Yes. But what can you really do about it?

Objectively game-dev is a collaborative multi-media enterprise, so you need lots of skilled specialists in quite defined areas all of whom ultimately need to pour their hard work into the same "pot". The point being you can only scale-up manpower to a certain degree without the inherent bottle-neck of the need to integrate everything into a singular end-product becoming an intractable problem.
 

SmokedMeat

Gamer™
Stop asking for more powerful hardware and loads of bells and whistles in your games.

It’s only the AAA stuff that demands this massive development time.
 

EDMIX

Member
Pre-PS4/Xbox One consoles it was common to get ENTIRE trilogies in a 5 - 7 year console generation span.

Here are a few examples of game dev cycles of the prior gens

GTA 3 (2001) -> GTA Vice City (2002) - GTA San Andreas (2004) -> GTA IV (2008)
Splinter Cell (2002) -> Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow 2004) -> Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)
Burnout 2 (2002) -> Burnout 3 (2004) -> Burnout Revenge (2005)
Need For Speed Underground (2003) -> Underground 2 (2004) -> Most Wanted (2005)
Mass Effect 1 - 3 (2007 - 2012)
Dead Space 1 - 3 (2008 - 2013)
Gears of War 1 - 3 (2006 - 2011)
Metroid Prime 1 - 3 (2002 - 2007)
Halo 1 to Halo 2 (2.5 years)
Halo 2 to Halo 3 (3 years)
Zelda Wind Waker to Zelda Twilight Princess (4 years with a bunch of GBA/DS games in between)
Devil May Cry 1 (2001) -> Devil May Cry 2 (2003) -> Devil May Cry 3 (2005)

Keep in mind the successors to a lot of the following games brought forth new mechanics, that led to the matured state of game design today.

Here a few examples of modern game development cycle lengths.
GTA V Sequel (Approaching 10 years+)
Halo Infinite (6 years of development)
Red Dead 2 (8 years of development)
Horizon Forbidden West (6 years of development)
Cyberpunk 2077 (announced in May 2012, released in 2020)
New Elder of Scrolls (Approaching 12 years+)
New Fallout 5 (approaching 8 years+)
God of War (2018) to God of War Ragnarok (2022, with plenty of reuse)
Zelda BOTW to Zelda TOTK (6 years, with a lot of asset reuse)

The picture below is a timeline of Rockstar Games release schedule, this is just one example but it represents the actual state of the modern development cycle length.

As games continue to require more resources this length will continue to increase, we're already seeing the effects.

As game development cycles increase things get more challenging in terms of meeting the expectations of something such as E3, where people are expected to be "wowed" on an annual basis.

Sony knew this, and was exactly why they pulled out from E3 showings.



Final Verdict: Yes

To be fair, some of the games.....well a lot of the games you listed are not even by the exact same teams, thus you are not looking at some beginning to end thing, a lot of what you listed was in development by other teams during the development of the other games..

For example, GTA 3 is made by former developer DMA and only part of Rockstar works on that game, its Rockstar North that is making Vice City, they didn't make it in 1 year, it was already being made while DMA made GTA3.

Splinter Cell 1 was made by Ubisoft Montreal, Splinter Cell 2 was made by Ubisoft Shanghai, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory is a return to Montreal

LA Noire was never "made" by Rockstar, that was made by the now closed Team Bondi, it was merely published under Rockstar and later Rockstar bought the IP, the team that made Bully made Max Payne 3, Vancouver.

So the better question is, does the lack of knowing who 100% makes are games have us under a belief of when games get made or if they take too long or too short?


This is no different then those weird arguments where someone says Call Of Duty is cheap and lazy, oh look it comes out every year, they don't even take their times.....

Can we really have a discussion around that if the person doesn't know that COD takes YEARS to make and simply has many teams that work on Call Of Duty?

So some might think dev cycles are too long, I say.....maybe those really taking that long have respect for what it really takes to put those projects out and working cause I'd say a bigger issue in gaming is releasing broken, unfinished games.
 

Klosshufvud

Member
Absolutely. We wait 4-5 years for one studio to put out a single game now and there is a 50-50 chance it sucks anyways. The current model is not sustainable. The race to having juggernaut AAA titles instead of a steady release of smaller scale games is ruining this hobby. It's also very frustrating when a 5-year-in-the-making game comes out and still has elements that are unfinished (Cyberpunk, Halo Infinite) or poorly designed (RDR2). So it's not like those long cycles even lead to better games.
 

Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
games getting bigger, people want amazing visuals.
You can have amazing visuals in games lasting 10-15H, not 40H.

OP - yes, games take too long to make due to increased length, because people think they are “not getting their money’s worth” with a 10H game. So developers will pad it just to put a nice bulletpoint out, and of course creating twice the amount of assets takes a longer time.
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
Yes. Yes they are.

Not only that but the decision making at so many of these studios is brain dead.

For years people begged ubisoft to make a game in Japan. Ghosts comes out and is a major success so that's what gets ubi to move their ass? Sand thing with setting a game in India. What took you so fucking long? (shitty mobile games don't count).

Another example is Konami. Silent hill is dormant for decades. PT comes out. Hassan does his thing on the industry for a year. Oh, now there's 3 silent hills coming.

Suikoden has been dead for years. What's this, eiyudan chronicles made a shit load of kickstarter money? Put down the pachinko and gyms! Lets rush out this palette swapped suikoden.

Fucking dead space too. What's a callisto? Better remaster it now instead of working on it the last 10 years.

Shits played out and I haven't even mentioned embracer group. I think they have 70 games in development. 70! How about you slow down and actually release some of them first before you buy another dozen IP.
HOLY SHIT THIS.
I feel like these companies really need to invest in researchers who search forums like these, youtube, discord etc to see what people actually want. They're so fucking tonedeaf and out of touch. If these companies hired even 1 person to browse neogaf every day to gauge interest in IPs they may be trying to create/remaster/remake they could literally double their revenue. They can't keep being late to the punch and beaten by another company who's actually in touch and knows what the hell people want
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
Gamers: “man, games take waaaay too long to come out, tired of long dev cycles”

Also gamers: “man, this game looks like dlc, they are literally reusing animations from the last game wtf”
by "Also gamers" do you literally mean just salty xbox fanboys shitting on ragnarok? because i havent heard anyone else complain about reused animations. Im pretty sure a staple of sequels is to reuse shit from the previous game lol
 
by "Also gamers" do you literally mean just salty xbox fanboys shitting on ragnarok? because i havent heard anyone else complain about reused animations. Im pretty sure a staple of sequels is to reuse shit from the previous game lol

I heard people do it with elden ring as well

The truth is people expect bigger, shinier, and prettier games every day now. Especially now that these current gen consoles are out and cross-gen is being extended. Now its, “man i bought a ps5/series x for NEXT GEN. Games. I WANT TO BE BLOWN AWAY BY GRAPHIXXXX’

Thats the main criticism i keep hearing on these forums everytime a new game is announced
 
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HTK

Member
I have no issues with dev cycles. Something is always coming out and willing to wait long for the good stuff.
 

64bitmodels

Reverse groomer.
I heard people do it with elden ring as well
hm
not a big thing i hear from gaming discourse where i hang around. online or IRL people don't really care about "reused animations" thank god

I do think the DLC criticism is valid in some cases though, like GOW Ragnarok does look similar to 2018 but it was a 4 year dev cycle for a clearly high budget high production value game, and there doesnt seem to be any downgrades anywhere gameplay, graphic, cinematics wise
Meanwhile Tears of the Kingdom looks the exact same as BOTW while also having a 6 year dev cycle with multiple delays and almost 0 news on anything new we can expect in the game.
Back in the 16bit/32bit days sequels didnt look this close to each other
 
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lh032

I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
You can have amazing visuals in games lasting 10-15H, not 40H.

OP - yes, games take too long to make due to increased length, because people think they are “not getting their money’s worth” with a 10H game. So developers will pad it just to put a nice bulletpoint out, and of course creating twice the amount of assets takes a longer time.
I mean yea, however AAA devs prefers to make huge long games otherwise gamers would whine like what you say.
 
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