THQ may not release UFC Undisputed annually

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Recently THQ blamed Red Dead Redemption for the relatively poor sales of UFC Undisputed 2010 when compared to the breakout hit of UFC 2009. Thankfully it now appears that they recognize there was a lot more to why the game faltered than just competition for dollars in the marketplace. While they don’t cite the quality of the game being an issue (actually referencing its 85 metacritic) what they seem to have realized is an annual UFC game may not be justifiable.

“We’re considering a longer development cycle—15, 18, 21 months, rather than annually.” (after releasing UFC Undisputed 2011)

When the initial sales numbers came out my ultimate conclusion was that UFC may be much better off as a bi-annual series. EA Sports has gone that direction with some franchises including Fight Night and the upcoming EA Sports MMA. It just didn’t seem likely THQ would go that direction considering similar complaints have been made over the years about the company’s WWE franchise. They have not only have continued to churn them out yearly but are now going to release a different licensed WWE game every six months.

“We put another 20-30 new fighters into the product this year, which brought the roster up. But you know, if you wanted to play as the top fighters, they were all in the 2009 product too. So it’s a little bit more difficult to give that clear reason to buy the 2010 edition. It might just be, for that less engaged consumer – the hit buyer – they’re just happy with 2009. Now, when we get to 2011 – and I know what’s in that – it’s going to be fantastic. People are going to want to buy it, and that’s the step forward. But annualization is tough.”

There are definitely a number of factors that went into the severe sales drop for UFC Undisputed 2010. Just one of them that I threw out there was how important roster turnover in yearly sports franchises may be and that UFC could not really be a beneficiary of that on a year-to-year basis. It appears that the company actually recognizes that as playing a big part and it is encouraging that they may stretch out the time in between each iteration. They have the ability to do so since there is no “season” and they can release a new version at any time throughout the year.

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