Gamers Are Getting Fatigued, These Franchises Really Need to Take a Break
We’ve all heard of the concept of milking a franchise. It’s one thing to point fingers at a publisher and observe how they make their business decisions based on making a quick buck off a popular franchise. It’s another thing to watch as that franchise withers away as all the creative juices get sucked out of it. Gamers get bored, the development team would rather tie nooses around their necks than work on yet another sequel, and the publishers who hoped to milk the franchise for all its worth only end up with a sinking ship.
It’s not a pleasant sight for anyone to see. A franchise needs the proper care and attention to remain a force for many generations. It’s nice to see how after many ups and downs, series such as Zelda, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Street Fighter, and Metal Gear are still alive and kicking. They’ve been given enough time between releases and freshness to their gameplay to make them exciting with each new iteration. But, then there are video game series gone wrong. They start off successful but go down the drain as they’re squeezed dry.
We take a look at some franchises that aren’t being given the appropriate amounts of time in between sequels. They need to take a break before gamer fatigue sets in.
Call of Duty
Activision, take a look at your history! There used to be this franchise, that was kind of a thing. It was called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It sold millions with every new release. It was up there with the top selling games for approximately four years. But by the fifth year, sales began to decline. Apparently, releasing a new game each year wasn’t the smartest way to preserve a franchise’s longevity. By now, no one wants to touch a Tony Hawk game anymore. I’m pretty sure the same thing is happening with the Call of Duty series. A new game in the series is released each year without giving gamers a moment to breathe. Are gamers really going to be that excited to play another Call of Duty game each year from here on in? If there’s something you can count on it’s the fact that Activision had better do some incredible innovation if they are hoping to keep the franchise feeling fresh. A better idea would be to give everyone a breather. Let the series rest for a year or two. That will be the only thing that can save it at this rate.
Ubisoft recently said they want to put the Prince of Persia series on pause. They realized that 8 games in ten years was too much and gamers need a break already. So, why don’t they realize the same is starting to happen with Assassin’s Creed? The big problem is that Ubisoft has more than one team working on the AC games. Which means that as soon as one game is released by the first team, the second team is already halfway complete in the second game. Turning Assassin’s Creed into a yearly ritual is not a good idea. Already many gamers are saying that ACIV is coming out too soon after AC3. If this pattern continues it will drive Assassin’s Creed to its grave. It’s time to take a break.
Mario Kart games don’t come out every year, but even so, they aren’t innovating enough to keep the formula fresh. Nintendo knows that with its big 3D Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games it must give a healthy amount of space and proper innovation to keep each franchise fresh and exciting. They do a real great job at that. But, in regards to Mario Kart, not enough has changed over the years. It’s time to recreate the formula or give the series a rest for a while until we’re begging for a new one.
New Super Mario Bros
There’s another Nintendo franchise that doesn’t follow Nintendo’s general philosophy of innovating with each new sequel. The New Super Mario Bros games almost feel identical to each other. And they are released far too frequently. We got New Super Mario Bros on the DS, then New Super Mario Bros Wii, New Super Mario Bros 2 on 3DS, and New Super Mario Bros U. But all of them had such similar gameplay that it the formula quickly lost its freshness and excitement. Nintendo, it’s time to slow down the pace.
Ever heard of a franchise named Guitar Hero? Yeah, they pretty much self destructed after releasing close to TWENTY games within the span of four years. Quite ridiculous, I know. Guitar Hero should have been the lesson for the rest of the music game genre. But looky here, someone isn’t paying attention! Just Dance only began as a series in 2009, but they’ve already released 16 different versions and sequels of the games! This can only spell one thing: a downward spiral into oblivion. For goodness sake, Ubisoft, stop making more Just Dance games! Give it a rest for a year or two.
Capcom used to realize that every Resident Evil game must be something really special. After Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, it took them 6 years to make a sequel. And that’s probably why Resident Evil 4 became such a classic in 2005. But after that they decided to shorten the development cycle of the main games and make lots of spinoffs. Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6, Deadly Silence, Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside Chronicles, Mercenaries 3D, Revelations, and Operation Raccoon City all came out within the next 6 years. We get it. Resident Evil games sell pretty well now that they’ve taken a few pages out of the action genre book. But milking a specific franchise to keep your company afloat is not a healthy route to take. Capcom has to take some extra time in between Resident Evil releases and turn each sequel into a classic worthy of the original Resident Evil name.
Lego video games
Please, make it stop, make it stop! In 2005, TT Games came out with a great game called Lego Star Wars, which became very popular with consumers. They decided that that was a good enough reason to take any famous brand that would fit as a Lego game and make a crossover game. That led to 13 more games over 7 years. We’ve seen Lego coupled with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and Marvel Super Heroes. It was cute the first couple times we saw Lego games with our favorite movie series. And we liked it before the Lego style of gameplay grew stale. But by now it’s annoying. And it’s just another example of a company milking a franchise to make a quick buck.
Uncharted is a big big franchise for Sony. And it’s one that deserves to be handled with care, preserved for longevity. I don’t think Sony is making the right moves. The first Uncharted came out in 2007. But we’re closing in on the end of the PS3 generation with four games already in the series. If Sony goes at that pace on the PS4 we’re going to be up to Uncharted 6 in no time at all, with gamers losing their original excitement for the series. Uncharted is an IP that deserves gamers enthusiasm and the only way to retain that will be to give more of a break between the sequels.
Gears of War
Epic Games has accomplished a lot of great work in its long-standing history. Unreal and the Unreal Engine, Jazz Jackrabbit, ZZT, Age of Wonders, Shadow Complex, etc. But if you ask, what did they do this past generation? You’d have to answer: they made a whole lot of Gears of War games. Without looking in any other direction creatively they made four Gears of War games in a row. Besides for being a great way to burn out all the staff on a development team, it’s also a great way to lose your most important designer: Cliffy B. Truth is, gamers are starting to feel the same way. Epic Games should take a break from Gears of War and do something completely different before they work on a new game in the series. They owe it to their staff and they owe it to gamers.
Do you disagree with any of these choices? Would you add any other series to the list?