UFC Undisputed 2009 was one of the runaway successes on the gaming calender that year, selling over 3.5 million copies worldwide.  The UFC Undisputed 2010 edition has not met with THQ’s expectations however, and the gaming company are now reassessing how they are going to proceed with the franchise moving forward.

“We’re considering a longer development cycle—15, 18, 21 months, rather than annually,” THQ Chief Executive Brian Farrell said during an investor conference call according to the gaming site Kotaku.

Meanwhile the company’s UK Marketing Director, Jon Rooke, is still focused on next year’s edition and claims that it’s going to be a major progression from this year’s offering.

“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,” said Rooke.

So it’s a little bit more difficult to give that clear reason to buy the 2010 edition. Now, when we get to 2011 – and I know what’s in that – it’s going to be fantastic.”

That all sounds good, but like Farrel, Rooke also dropped a hint that putting out yearly updates may not be the answer in the longer term.

“People are going to want to buy it, and that’s the step forward, but annualisation is tough.”

Personally I wouldn’t mind the production cycle taking a longer if it means we get a better game at the end of it.  Annual sports game updates generally end up becoming spruced up versions of the previous year’s offering with some extra bells and whistles attached and little in the way of actual substantive changes due to the short development time.

As Rooke indicates, there also isn’t the fluctuation in the roster in the UFC that you might see in a team sport like Madden or FIFA for example that justifies a yearly update as a key selling point.

I’d like to see them invest more time in making the game more compelling (the career mode for instance needs a complete overhaul) and better balanced rather than simply adding in more fighters and graphic enhancements.