Wednesday, 30 May 2012 08:54
Games - Games
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Sequels have been around for a long time. I mean, if you really think about it, many of the popular titles of today are sequels. Nintendo is one of the companies notorious for this. They have titles tied to franchises Mario, Zelda, and Super Smash Bros. coming out a regular basis - by regular I mean forever.
Jokes aside though, sequels have been a topic of discussion in recent years. Perhaps it's because we get annual sequels like those in the Call of Duty series, or sequels that have short development cycles like Dragon Age 2. This isn't to say that we want sequels to come out so far apart that we get cranky about it - I'm looking at you The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. We talk about sequels because many of us care about the original titles that are made into franchises. However, for those that really don't like sequels, why should you care?
David Adams, studio manager of Vigil Studios, noted that games are a “sequel-based medium.” Why is that the case? Well, for one, it’s almost always a guaranteed financial success. If the first game does great or even relatively well, many gamers think it would be a waste of money not to invest on that franchise. Remember that making video games is a business. The most profitable way for a game to make money without spending too much on it is to capitalize on something already successful. If the assets for making a game are already there, creating a sequel would take less time and effort than creating completely new intellectual property. It just makes sense to do it this way.
Gamers who are invested in franchises have it good then because publishers want to save money by creating sequels. Both sides win Ironically, sequels drive the industry. It's because we have established franchises that the industry can thrive. How many new IPs, break a million copies? Almost none. It's the long running series that ends up selling a lot of copies. Mass Effect 3 is a great example of this. The recently released finale for the trilogy broke over a million copies. The first Mass Effect could never have done this. It's because the franchise has gained momentum, publicity and the reputation over the years that Mass Effect 3 sold as much as it did.
The games that sell well are sequels and as a result, most of the profit comes from sequels. Franchises like Skyrim, Halo, Uncharted, and Call of Duty are only a few of the examples where profits are extremely high due to it being a sequel. As the franchise gets larger it picks up new fans and players. It's obvious that profits would increase. Gamers get more sequels and publishers are happy to collect the money that gamers are willing to spend on these sequels. It's a happy cycle that keeps the industry going.
However, giving birth to too many sequels is a bad thing. It's great that companies are capitalizing on these successful titles. Unfortunately, for an entertainment medium that has the potential to be creative and prove itself, we're limited to sequels year after year. Game of the Year nominees tend to be sequels. Last year we saw that Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3, and Batman: Arkham City made this list for many sites. It's quite telling when the best games of year as chosen by gamers and journalists mostly come from sequels to major franchises. Granted, sequels improve on many of the faults of the original and the polish that comes with it makes for a great game of the year candidate. Unfortunately, the number of sequels compared to new IPs that make this category are few in number which show the limited amount of new creative content.
Still, while flooding the market with sequels is frustrating, this doesn't mean that they are inherently bad. “It'd be criminal to not make some sort of sequel,” Adams said, “You do all the hard work and you don't get to do everything you wanted in the first one.” Often times, the first game seems like a foundation. The developers build the game from the ground up and lay the base for where they want the game to go. Sadly, the developers don't have the opportunity to build beyond the foundation. What they end up getting is a game where not all the ideas are expanded upon and their vision is left unfulfilled. By having a sequel, the developers have the opportunity to do stuff they couldn't do previously and create a more refined game.
Sequels are great for more of the same good stuff. After all, if it isn't broken, why change it? People want the same good thing. If I go to a steakhouse and I loved their rib-eye, why would I want to get a different type of steak? There's no reason for me to change my dish. Of course, if a friend forcefully orders me a prime rib and I realize that this steak is just as good, that's awesome. Gamers need to expand their horizons and should try to move away from the same old stuff. I'm not saying it's the gamers’ fault that we have sequels. I'm also not saying sequels are something we should be rid of completely. Rather, I'm saying that gamers shouldn't blindly stick only to sequels of franchises they enjoy. We constantly cry out for more great games. Just as one example, I have heard so many people desperately wanting a Bioshock sequel after the game's initial release, due to its popularity People want more of what's good.
What's the point of all of these perspectives? Gamers should be informed of the products they purchase. After all, by spending money on sequels, you are in a way promoting the company's activity to create more sequels. This isn't to say that you shouldn't buy sequels. Rather, inform yourself and become more knowledgeable about the community you're in. If you're more informed, you're more likely to make an informed purchase. It's just common sense. Try to understand how sequels are made and why. I guess if I have to sum up my feelings on the matter, it comes down to moderation. Sequels are great, some could even be considered a blessing. For me, two that stand out as examples are Devil May Cry 3 and Splinter Cell: Chaos TheoryThese games represent the height of their franchises for me. However, some series seem repetitive and do nothing but over-saturate the market. For instance, I'm already bored to death of Call of Duty. It creates a feeling of series fatigue and stagnation.
To me video game sequels are great but only in bits at a time, whether that be the number of installments or the frequency with which they come out. The keys are moderation on the part of the developers and selectivity on the part of the gamers.
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Sequels have been around for a long time. I mean, if you really think about it, many of the popular titles of today are sequels. Nintendo is one of the companies notorious for this. They have...
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