5 years is arguably a long game to play, and the topic of chronical length is something that had been brought up many times over the course of the last couple of years prior to the length change announcement. Considering this, chronical length became a multifaceted topic which had long-term implications that affected the vitality of the organisation as a whole.
The short answer is that the 5th year of chronicle 1 was extremely bad for the organization.
There was a sort of general malaise that is endemic to reset-based chronicles as you move into the lame duck year. We saw quite a few games run out of story and fold. The larger-than-local didn’t have much chance for advancement left so those behind the curve simply dropped out. The perceived invincibility of certain characters left some other players with the impression that there was nothing left to do and we dropped the ball on pushing them towards a dramatic ending. This was compounded by both experience points and status issues. How can you break through somebody’s Favored stack if there aren’t enough Elders left to pay off to give them Vulgar?
This slow decline and drop in morale had other carry-on problems. As games drop out and people don’t engage its harder for the OSTs to keep the games interesting. Networks rely on network effects. It also meant we were bringing in less money. The final year being less interesting to people had a direct impact on our ability to function at all. We don’t take in a lot of money in the first place, so we should have done better to avoid good reasons for Patrons to have a “wait until reset” attitude.
Moving to four years helps mitigate most of these things. Troupes don’t have to run quite as much story. The OSTs can focus their large-scale stories a bit more. The experience spread will be naturally smaller. There will be less time to wait out in-play for the end to come and another reset to topple your invincible enemies. Patrons will have an easier-to-foresee timeline that puts more value on planning their experience and character arcs.
There were a lot of other potential proposals to fix each of these things individually. Contracting the length gave a possible solution to all of them in one simple-to-understand and simple-to-implement change. It also means that if we’re wrong and more drastic changes are needed that there will be less time for us to have to live with these bad decisions.