Here's Lookin' at you, Franchises

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So I’m catching up on Twitter yesterday when I notice that Total Gaming Network had linked to an article on Yahoo! Games. The article talks about five video game franchises we might be better off without. While I may agree that this is a problem for the video game industry, I often can’t believe it’s still a topic people care to read about.

The entertainment industry as a whole (as well as the fans) has never gotten past their lust for specific characters and plots. We have our favorites. Even if an actor is portraying a different character, we often see bits of the reason we love that actor shine through, bridging the gab between the characters.

The medium doesn’t matter. Movies? Six Star Wars films, a new Indiana Jones, almost a dozen Batman movies in under twenty years. And let’s not forget turning a classic like Ocean’s 11 into a freaking trilogy. Are you a reader? How about seven Harry Potter books, or four Twilight books in under four years? Music fan? Have you seen Britney spears making a 10-year comeback?

Now that you’ve grown up, have you watched children’s TV shows? Replace any set of characters, they all share the same plots. And I’m not even talking good guys vs. bad guys. I’m talking Prince and the Pauper spin offs, Jack and the Beanstalk references, etc… from Bugs Bunny, to Barbie, to Broadway – stories have been retold so many times, that even if the characters and backdrop are new, you should recognize the plot.

The abuse of a franchise, going back to a well we think would be dry is nothing new. Between 1931 and 1941 no less than 3 film adaptations of the book The Maltese Falcon were released. People think that the video game industry has gotten stale. But believe me, flooding the market with video game sequels is nothing new, and every other form of entertainment is has been going through it a lot longer than ours. The peoplpe complaining about the Halo trilogy had nothing to say back when Super Mario Brothers 3 launched. I’m really shocked that a few pretentious editors from around the internet come back year after year and complain that there isn’t enough new intellectual property. We are far from the first to experience this, and the games industry won’t be the last.