Business Over Brevity

I feel conflicted. There seems to be a plague sweeping through gaming culture these days, and I don’t know how I feel about it yet so perhaps at the end of this article I will have reached some kind of conclusion. My problem, and the plague that I am referring to is the franchise. If a game is met with enough success nowadays, the company will make a sequel, and if that sequel is met with enough success they make another sequel, and another and another, and more often than not it seems that what started out as a good idea, and what was originally something that many game developers and designers were very passionate about, is now an instance of quantity over quality, the more games they sell, the more games they can make, regardless of whether or not the sequels are matching the standards of their predecessors.

It feels as though people are being exploited, they’ll buy a game because it follows the story line of a series they have become invested in even if it doesn’t live up to their expectations, even if they know it won’t live up to their expectations. I’m a victim of it, Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty. Halo made three near flawless games, the third installation had a climactic and satisfying resolution, nothing else had to be added, and yet here I sit 8 years later eagerly awaiting the fifth segment of what would have been a perfectly good trilogy. Assassin’s Creed shares the same problem, the second game in the series was phenomenal, in fact it was met with so much success that they decided to create a trilogy devoted specifically to the main character of the second game, and the trilogy was fine, and they could have quit there, but now the franchise is so wealthy that they are currently in the middle of simultaneously releasing their 8th and 9th games, despite the fact that many of the sequels received poor ratings. Call of Duty might be the best example of this trend,as they are in the middle of releasing their 12th game: Advanced Warfare, despite the fact that their ratings dropped so drastically that they are no longer a competitive franchise.

 

This issue isn’t localized to the gaming world either, movies are especially guilty of opting for sequels to make more money in favor of making stand-alones or trilogies: Marvel, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, Terminator, Alien, Fast and Furious the list goes on. There is something to be said for brevity, for conciseness, an idea can be just as good if not better as a solo installation than if it is expanded into a tangled and drawn out series that exists more for the purposes of making money than because the idea needed to be added to.

Unfortunately, I can’t make myself immune to this disease just because I have a problem with the principle. I’m still going to play Halo 5, I’m absolutely going to go see the next Marvel and Star Wars films, I’m still going to buy the games and pay for the movies even if I know I’m about to get something of lesser quality, which begs the question then, is continuation necessarily bad? If I know I’m paying for something that’s not going to be as good as its predecessor, and I do it anyways, does that make it my fault that these games and movies are being extended past what their expiration date should have been? Also, are there certain cases where continuing a series is a good thing? I realize that this post asks more than it answers, I still haven’t decided whether or not I think franchises are a bad thing, but I’m curious to know what other people think. Do they share my opinion, or is there merit to a 12 game franchise, am I making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t really matter since I don’t have to buy the games and I don’t have to see the movies anyways?

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