Game Franchises: The Highs & Lows

Franchises have been a staple in the video game industry for over 30 years. From the early SMB banneryears of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of ZeldaSonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy, Metroid, and Metal Gear to newer ones like God of War, Uncharted, Dragon Age, Infamous, Batman:Arkham, Dead Space, Gears of War, Mass Effect, and Halo. These games are responsible for a ton of gaming hours.

Its no secret that developers and publishers pay attention to the trends of the past and present to gauge and plan their approach when it comes to the future of gaming. From their perspective they should stick with what has been successful. A lot of gamers invest their precious time in franchise games. This typically happens when a person develops some sort of bond with the character they play as in the game. In most instances sequels to video games continue the story that was started in the original, or sometimes tell a different story altogether but set in the same time period or place. Either way if the original main characters remain that is usually enough to create a successful sequel.

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I believe that the creators of certain video game franchises walk a fine line when it comes to pushing out multiple sequels to a game. For example, franchises like  Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty typically release a new game every year. This year Ubisoft released two Assassin’s Creed games (Rogue & Unity), while Sledgehammer released another Call of Duty spin off,  Advanced Warfare. I haven’t played these games and to be honest I don’t plan to. Although, I have heard that Advanced Warfare is the best CoD released in the past few years. I really feel that with the amount of options available to gamers companies need to really step up their game.  Perhaps instead of extending a franchise beyond its prime, or pushing out sequels annually developers should allow more time to pass before releasing games especially if these games aren’t improving upon the franchise. Don’t get me wrong I get the philosophy developers/publishers have because its very easy to stick with a successful product, heck Square Enix has done this with one of the longest running franchises in the industry, Final Fantasy.

I must be honest, I’m more inclined to stay with a franchise if the story is compelling, the characters have aspects that resonate with me, or a developer is bringing new ideas to life that I find them unique and fun. I truly believe that franchises like the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this article have been successful because the sequels have been strategically planned and released in an effort to improve that franchise and the experience gamers desire. I applaud developers that don’t see the need to release sequels on a yearly cycle.

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If you have any thoughts on this subject please share them in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

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3 Comments

  1. I think the key to a successful franchise is avoiding over-saturation. While the past few single player Final Fantasy games have not lived up to earlier iterations, I think that series such as Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, and even Mario Kart really speak volumes as to what makes a successful gaming franchise, and that is not churning out a new volume every single year for the sake of putting out a new game. I am hard pressed to think of a yearly franchise that I truly want to play every year. Nice post, by the way!

    • Thank you. I agree with your FF statement. Mario Kart is a great franchise. GWW has a lot of Mario Kart fans as well as Smash Bros. As of right now the only Franchises I have on my must play list when new titles are released include Uncharted, LoZ, Metroid (crossing my fingers for a new WiiU title), God of War, Destiny, & Batman:Arkham. I’m certain that I’m done with Sports titles, the AC universe, & CoD/Battlefield franchises. Even though I play & love Destiny I’m not a huge fan of the FPS genre.

      Appreciate your comments. Happy New Year

  2. Great article! I think what they did with Assassin’s Creed this year was pretty insane. So if you didn’t know, the last bit of story in Rogue ties into Unity, but Rogue is 360/PS3 only. So that means people like me who didn’t own last gen systems won’t get that little tid bit of what I’d call pretty important info into Unity’s story without watching it on YouTube. Unity being a freaking mess as it is, and Rogue being a much better game overall, it’s crazy they decided to release two complete different games on the SAME DAY, not just in the same year. Ubisoft’s gone mad…

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