Developers, Stop Playing it Safe With Franchises & Use The “3 Game Rule”

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Many gamers hate it, the milking of a gaming franchise, especially if it’s their favorite franchises. Many developers, especially this generation are making sequel after sequel now, usually without any noticeable innovation, or just too many games year after year. Notice that many games are hitting title number 2 or title number 3 now, and as we’ve seen from many games (Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy), sequels aren’t bad under certain instances, but some developers just have to know when to call it quits. It’s simple, make three games in a franchise, then stop all development of that entire franchise, sounds like a daring move? It’s gonna be better for everyone in the long-run though, here’s why.

When this new console generation started, it was so interesting, and such a fun time to play games. I’m pretty certain the main reasoning for this is simple, there were so many new IP’s (Resistance, Uncharted, Gears of War, etc), there were major exciting rethinking and innovation of many game series (Call of Duty for instance), and of course, all of the exciting graphical and hardware changes to these games.

New IP’s and reforming game series, that’s a lot of what we had when the PS3, 360, and the Wii came out, and man was this an exciting time to play games. That formula went on pretty strong for about two years, and then came the sequels. Some of our favorite games were getting a second adventure like Uncharted 2, Gears of War 2, Assassin’s Creed II, along with many more. A second game in a franchise is usually a warm welcome to me, as long as they don’t release just one short year apart from each other, and of course if they are better than the first game in the series, many games this generation were able to achieve a great second game too!

Recently though, we have been seeing a lot of game’s with a number 3 at the end of their title, especially last year in 2012, did you realize how many “number three” games released last year? Restance 3, Killzone 3, Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, and the list goes on and on. Why were these games so awesome and well regarded in their first and second games in their franchise, but some are now starting to stumble on their third release? More importantly though, why are some of these developers wanting to make a 4th game in their franchises as gamers are becoming fatigued of their game series.

Resistance 1 was a very sucessful new IP, it brought a lot of new things to the table, a very new and exciting experience. Resistance 2 added a major sense of scale and story, while stumbling with some things, but still liked by most. Resistance 3 didn’t do very well at all though, even though the game itself wasn’t bad, people were simply tired of the franchise, they didn’t show they could innovate the story enough for three whole games to prove to the consumer that they should buy the third game, or maybe it was just that a lot of people kinda knew exactly what they were going to be playing anyway.

People argue Gears of War 3 is a good game but seems to be getting old now, same with Killzone 3, same with Modern Warfare 3… the truth is, if you take the risk at changing the formula of a game series as it starts to get its age to make it fresh and new again, you could risk disappointing a fan base, with some games, they already are perfect as they are and there’s nothing to change, the only thing is, that franchise is simply just getting old and not much else can be done with it.

Uncharted 3 is an excellent example, the Uncharted series is something special, it came out of nowhere and really made an impact on the gaming industry, the first game was an amazing new IP, and the second game expanded on that first experience by a huge amount. Then, Uncharted 3 released, a good game at that but anyone whose played it can most likely make many, many parallels in the story of the second and third games, this game is perfect for what it is, but getting old and all gamers want something new, perhaps Naughty Dog knows this, and is why they blew us away with “The Last of Us” being unveiled recently. Naughty Dog took the charge to divide their company into two and work on a new IP,  kudos to Naughty Dog, but not every developer is doing this. Instead, many developers are going to their number 4 in their already fatigued franchise.

In my honest opinion, the Uncharted series needs to end now, the Resistance series needs to end right this second, Killzone should end if not now, definitely next game, Call of Duty obviously wont end, but needs to seriously innovate before being run into the ground, and Assassin’s Creed SERIOUSLY needs to get to their third game and end this year. All of these games are great no doubt, but they’re getting old, losing their “new car smell”. I think you can probably agree that after a while when a game loses its new car smell, you want to venture to something else fascinating and new, either leaving you tired of the franchise, or maybe even the developer itself, because you know they can definitely make something amazing and different, but just keep going with the sequels.

I feel that the main problem is the developers want to play it safe, so they keep with their current franchise and keep spitting out sequels, and this usually disassembles the game’s fun factor at a slow pace (or a quick pace if the sequels are rolled out yearly). Sequels are great but developers, you have got to STOP at game number 3, or even stop a game or two before that, why? New IP’s are so much more powerful if heart and soul is put into it, you wont be scrambling to find yourself as a developer after making too many sequels and finding where you went wrong and then discover you needed a new IP (unfortunately like Insomniac Games seems to be doing now).

New IP’s are a breath of fresh air, what were our reactions when we first saw LittleBigPlanet? Or the first time we saw the innovative and never-before-seen physics and movement of the Mirror’s Edge trailer? Or what about the time we kept going back to those Heavy Rain trailers with our jaws dropped in amazement? The first time we played Portal? For the most part, I’m sure we were absolutely amazed at what was to come from these new experiences, and in my personal experience, I’d so much rather play a new IP than a sequel any day.

So that’s why developers need to stop their franchise after their “number 3″

There are a few exceptions, given the genre and timing of releases, developers can go far past number 3 where gamer’s will still find a ton of interest in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto is a great example of this. It’s an open world sandbox crime game, but with every new game there is substantial reforms to the game, whether it be a new character, physics, graphics, new methods of travel, game modes, Rockstar always finds a way to create something new with their franchise and it won’t get old past their number 3. For many game’s though, you really just can’t do many changes, or pull in a new character.

Another exception is to release many sequels, but make us actually “miss” that character and want to play their story again, do you realize how much I am dying to play a Kingdom Hearts III? I want to play that game so much because they haven’t released anything on console in so many years?  For example, Uncharted 3 was not on the top of my list in 2011 because I felt I had kinda just played Uncharted 2, I honestly didn’t miss the franchise that much, so I didn’t have that same amazing fun that I felt with the first or second game.

So, there are few exceptions, but it usually involves extremely long waits or ever-changing innovation and fresh, new experiences to keep a franchise running, and most developers simply cannot keep that going past their number 3. That’s why I think that once developers make their third game, they need to really listen to what people have to say about it, and if the reaction isn’t seriously amazing as their first or second game, they need to go back to the drawing board and reform their franchise (like Tomb Raider), or my personal favorite, make a new IP.

That’s the three game rule, a time of change and excitement after a developers number 3 game, and that’s what I think developers really need to do to keep the gaming industry new, alive, and kicking! What do you guys think, should more developers use something like this?

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BlindMango

I am a visually impaired tropical fruit with firm yellowish-red skin and a juicy pulp.

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Comments
  1. 2 / 19 / 2012 4:09 pm

    I agree at the start it was exciting with all the new ip’s and i cant wait for it to happen with the ps4.

    But i do love the game we have got from it like uncharted i think the huge games should stay and keep going. But games that didn’t improve in sales and reviews since the first one should finish.

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  2. gally

    2 / 20 / 2012 3:04 am

    love this title but lets be honest if the plot and storyline keeps being as good as a movie you wud see at the box office why stop “james bond 007″ rings a bell

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  3. gally

    2 / 20 / 2012 3:11 am

    plus the detail naughty dog put into this franchise.. its not a matter of copy and paste so clearly they are proud of what they created don’t get me wrong i would love to see them create a new ip but don’t want them to finish this series or worse hand over uncharted to another Sony developer when they have these franchise so well put together

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  4. 2 / 20 / 2012 7:29 am

    We agree with you its just some devs need to be more creative. They will bring out one new ip and stick with it and will not create a new one.

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  5. PS3Fan

    2 / 20 / 2012 8:09 am

    The same logic should also be applied to GRAND TURISMO, WIPEOUT, METAL GEAR, TWISTED METAL and LBP franchises. It’s getting old so quick, like a bore fest magnet.

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  6. 2 / 20 / 2012 2:30 pm

    ever thought that there are FANS who play those games and want devs to continue making the sequels!?

    gamers are just full of complainers.
    We have fans of MGS, who beg Kojima to make MGS5. Even though it is milked to death. But when it’s for other games people love such as Uncharted, the haters or “not so fan” of Uncharted will tell Naughty Dawgs not to make a sequel that they are milking it.

    Please everyone just stfu already!
    If a franchise like Resistance, then we can say devs should stop with the sequel as Resistance series are not big enough in terms of impact and FPS experience.

    But if its a series like Unreal Tournament, and some @sshole is telling Epic to stop milking Unreal. Seriously STFU!

    Franchises that are doing well and brought out innovative features SHOULD not be considered milked or stopped being in production.

    Franchises like Mario which introduced new genre and gameplay innovation from all it’s sequels means Mario deserves to be milked and is here to Stay!

    Franchises like Metroid is also here to stay. It introduces new gameplay/story experience (Other M) as well as changing it’s own overall gameplay with prime series.

    Half Life is milked? yes. What innovation or new experiences did Half Life as a whole brought in?
    it uses the same scripted cutscene from Half Life 1 and hasn’t changed ever since. It was only Half Life 2 that introduced a benchmark graphics in terms of realistic/realism graphics (Duke Nukem can go back to sleep).

    Only games like Call of Duty (WW2) and Medal of Honor can be considered milked because they are always the same thing and no changes. Modern Warefare is quit different but I think it’s starting to spring to life, I haven’t played MW3 yet so I don’t know how it is different compared to other MW or how many new things it has.
    Because there is always room for Modern Warfare Hack n Slash:P

    But get 1 thing straight!
    If a sequel from a franchise can introduce gaming elements that other games borrows or copies? it means that franchise is here to stay!

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  7. 2 / 20 / 2012 3:12 pm

    I need to disagree. Franchises should not stop at 3 they just need to be handled properly. I think Sony has done a horrible job handling its franchises which is why almost all your examples are Sony titles. Microsoft has done slightly better adding new elements to its IP but not enough to drastically change the games.

    Nintendo on the other hand has proven they can keep franchises fresh. Their handling of Mario is a perfect example. Every Mario title since SNES has innovated and changed up game play no two Mario games are alike. Nintendo then releases unique spin offs to take their franchises in new directions a Mario Kart, Mario Party, MarioRPG/Paper Mario and Mario Sports not to mention Smash Bros. With all these unique experiences consumers keep on coming back. Sega did a decent job with Sonic and it paid off sometimes and failed others. You have IP like LoZ which change art direction and often elements of game play from game to game. Star Fox, Pokemon now people say Pokemon is the same game but Nintendo puts in new game play with each entry example beauty contests etc…etc.. they change up the game play and with the releases of spin offs they keep the franchise fresh.

    Sony needs to build on their brands and to innovate and changed their games just enough each entry to keep fans were intrigued while not upsetting the existing base. Microsoft too needs to do this and with Halo4 I am guessing they are the change in plot and artistic direction are very intriguing.

    Activision is getting stale. They are not pushing the CoD franchise and by releasing it annually they aren’t given enough room to create a master piece.

    The trick is innovation evolving your product as the times change. Creating a strong brand and growing that brand into the next Mario, Pokemon or Halo. New IP are great and we should see a ton of new IP in Tue next two years. It is viable to release new IP with new hardware Ubisoft and other publishers have proven the best time to launch a new IP is within the first two years of new hardware when consumers are looking for new content to drive their console purchases.

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    • Unknown

      12 / 10 / 2012 8:37 am

      I agree with Mango 100% I disagree with you Joelcool7t in fact I find Nintendo worse than Sony and Microsoft. I use to be all for nintendo.

      Then I realize I’m just playing the mostly same inferior games all along. The Wii was the final push I needed to move on.

      Mario has turned to crap since the gamecube. I got tired of pokemon after the 2nd generation, Legend of zelda is getting tiresome.

      If it weren’t for the 3rd party games like no more heroes etc for the wii I would still be pretty pissed how crap the 1st party games have become I’m just sick of the same franchises that gets worse and worse.

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  8. 2 / 20 / 2012 5:26 pm

    A game that incorporates elements from all games and starts small but grows over time. This should be considered more normal than making sequels. You play the same game, and it improves. Uncharted 1 becomes BOTH Uncharted 1 & 2. Graphical and gameplay updates become a part of the game instead of part of a sequel. The universal game is unstoppable due to the single, brilliant idea of singular growth instead of copied repetition.

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  9. Game-Critic

    2 / 22 / 2012 1:35 pm

    Title should read “Publishers” stop playing it safe with franchises use the 3 game rule. Devs are nothing without the publisher. Hell I can be a dev but whose going to publish my work? If they don’t like it or want to play it safe I have to create what they want me to do so I can get paid for my work. So I believe your title is wrong.

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  10. TheCoolMan

    2 / 23 / 2012 5:00 pm

    I totally agree. We really need new IPs. It keeps gamers interested

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