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THQ Considering Longer Development Time for Next UFC Undisputed

UFC Undisputed may not see yearly releases.

THQ is reviewing the development process for UFC Undisputed, considering giving the next game a longer development cycle instead of yearly releases for the series.

According to Joystiq, the company’s CEO Brian Farrell discussed the possibility during an earnings conference call on Monday:

What we’re thinking about – not to necessarily reinvigorate it because it’s a great franchise – but as I said in my prepared remarks, we’re considering a longer development cycle. 15-, 18-, 21-months between releases rather than annually.

Disappointing sales for the latest Undisputed factor into the decision. Undisputed 2010 released May 25th. To date, it has sold 2.7 million copies. Undisputed 2009, which released May 19th, 2009, sold 2.9 million copies during this time last year. Undisputed ’09 has sold 3.5 million units as of this February, reported Gamespot.

THQ posted first quarter losses of $30.1 million, reported Gamasutra. Sales for Undisputed 2010 contributed to the losses.

On one of the reasons for lower sales, Farrell said:

Our view is that we captured the hardcore UFC fans, but did not capture as many of the hardcore gaming population as [last year].

Despite Undisputed 2010 failing to meet company expectations, Farrell stated that the MMA game is still a top franchise for THQ.

The next Undisputed could see a release window in 2012’s fiscal year, which spans from April 2012 to March 2013.

Discussion

This is a problem that’s plagued the WWEgames. Back when the series started on the Playstation 1, it was really good. Youcould see the differences from WWF Smackdown to Smackdown 2: Know Your Role. Smackdown: Just Bring It on the Playstation 2 added new modes, features, and announcing for the matches.

In the next few games, the story modes improved, among other things. When they started releasing the Smackdown vs. Raw games, it became Madden’d. Now the WWE games are given minimal changes and are incredibly stale.

Yuke’s also develops the WWE games and has really drove the series into the ground. It appears the same problem has already happened to UFC Undisputed. A longer development span could really keep the series fresh.

With traditional sports games like football, baseball, etc, the new releases have updated rosters, which is a large selling point for them. They traditionally releases around the time the season starts too, which helps even more garner interest in the game. A game for UFC doesn’t have drastic roster changes and is a year-round sport.

2.7 million copies sold isn’t disappointing in it of itself, but compared to Undisputed 2009’s sales, it’s a let down. 2010 should have sold much more copies given the hype, marketing, and momentum from Undisputed 2009. No major changes and a release alongside other big titles prevented that from happening.

It’s nice to see a company taking a step back and analyzing what went wrong with their game. Furthermore, realizing they don’t need to release a game every year is a smart move.  It’ll help boost interest and profits for the title and most importantly improve the gameplay package.

It’s good for them and good for gamers.

Photo by THQ

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