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Franchise Fatigue Is A Real Thing

Franchise Fatigue Is A Real Thing

Guitar Hero Died For Your Sins

dead horse placeholder

Artist’s Rendition (placeholder lol, praise MS for making MS Paint)

Games are like horses: they start smelling when they have not been moving for a bit, and they both stop moving pretty quickly when they’re ridden too hard. My point is annual game franchises get old fast. Case in point, the whole Feel-Like-Van-Halen genre of games. And Adventure games. And linear shooters. And collectathons. And … you get the point, right?

Well it has become particularly noticeable in the wake of Holiday 2015 blowout-that-wasn’t. Everything that AAAs brought out was genuinely uninspired and was panned widely because of it. Halo 5, CoD Blops III, Battlefront and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate were noticeable underperformers. Let’s discuss the finer points of their failure today.

Ubisofting Is A Real Word Because I Say So

Gents, the chickens have come home to roost, and Ubisoft is learning that if you sow dead hookers in stead of wheat, what grows is not exactly fit for human consumption. And they’re learning it the hard way. Ubisoft in the last few years were hell bent on giving EA a run for it’s money in negative public perception: from the Assassin’s Creed II PC port being always online, to Uplay being what is charitably described as utter dogshit.

The fact that they have been sticking to tying in-game bonuses to Uplay and mobile apps further stinks up the cesspool. All their bigger games were variations on the same formula: A paint-by-numbers open world filled with copy-paste sidequests which you discover by climbing a tower or something (this usually involves a climbing puzzle) and capture outposts from AI to liberate areas from the antagonist and zz…ZZZ..zzzzz…

*Grunt* wha-? Oh right, Ubisoft. Yeah, you guys desperately need new stuff.

sameold same old

On a serious note though, when Ubisoft games are good, the’re really, really good (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Assassin’s Creed IV, Beyond: Good and Evil are personal favorites) and they’re good not because of the Ubisoft trademarked mass produced open world, but because they’re a unique experience.

So why do they feel the need to cram soulless drivel down our throats is something I  cannot comprehend. Hell, it’s amazing that little like the ones Ziggy’s Mod made to Far Cry 3 change the game into something so much better, and Ubisoft they still persist in not changing things in sequels to the point where people cannot even tell sequels apart if you turn the sodding UI off.

Ubi vs EA

Ladies and Gents, Welcome to the Worst Public Perception for a Publisher in All of Gaming Championship! The prize is a smelly garbage bag which says “Boo you stink!” on it!

EA, You Gotta Stop, Man

Look EA, we hate you. We really do. From the bottom of our hearts, we despise all that you have become: a formless eldritch entity that exists for the sole purpose of making more money. And simply giving up to sell us the same game over and over again with a stat change (in case of Madden, FIFA and company) or crowbarring in always online DRM just because (Need for Speed reboot) is surely not helping your public perception much.

They’ve even given up on Battlefield series: At least Battlefield 4 actually improved on Battlefield 3, but Hardline had less content than 4, and Battlefront (which I consider a part of the Battlefield series and not the Battlefront series) has laughably little content.

Hell, Battlefield series’ major problems don’t even stem that much from yearly releases (because they aren’t) but mostly from the money grubbing that EA practices, milking customers for every last dime they’re worth. That just smacks of exploitation and taking the consumer for granted to most gamers, hence all the EA hate.

Oh and Origin, while better than Uplay, is still another bit of invasive and obnoxious DRM that gets stacked on top of Steam. Good on them for giving away free games every once in a while though.

The Madden Problem

Sports games are notorious for not changing anything in yearly iterations except for team rosters. EA and co. do nothing to improve that reputation. Nothing at all. They simply repackage the same game after tweaking some variables year after year after sodding year.

And they still sell like ice cream on a hot day in the Sahara desert. I don’t like them. They’re not my thing. So I’ll refrain from commenting on the people who buy them. If I had to comment, I’d call them brainless idiots who can’t tell exploitative practices from their ars- wait, is that a new Far Cry? FUKKEN BOUGHT!

“Killer App”

Hip to be Square

Marketing Lessons by Patrick Bateman

“Killer app” is a marketing term men in suits tell each other in boardroom meetings when they want to rip whatever is making the most money at the current time off wholesale and sell it as a different product. We had the Halo killers, then the WoW killers, and the CoD killers and others.

All this does is stagnate franchises and entire genres. Remember the MMORPG glut which finally concluded with Star Wars: The Old Republic? Or as it is now affectionately known, TORtanic? What these people fail to realize is if people want to play Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, they will play Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. 

Oh and while we are on the subject Call of Duty:

Call of Duty and Wannabes

game of thrones

Call of Duty spawned an entire genre of small pools of regenerating health, ADS, clunky, slow, forced cover shooting FPSes. Most of those other games died in ignominy, but you still get one or two of the challengers to the Call of Duty throne every year, while CoD just sits there, looking bored and telling Ramirez to do everything.

But all is not right in the CoD kingdom, as sales are declining despite a jump to future and amping up the gameplay: sales are at an all time low. So low, in fact, that Activision stopped publishing sales data altogether this year. Is the king perturbed yet? Does he see the Great Birnam woods approach Dunsinaine Hill? All we know for sure is that there’s a new Call of Duty coming this holiday season, and it won’t be smashing the series’ titanic sales records.

Relax, Take a Break, Smell the Roses

Annual franchises are fucking stupid as shit (pardon my vernacular). I say this as people are genuinely tired of playing the same games every damn year. If they aren’t, they will be. Even if the first, say, 5 games make a fat stack of cash, the franchise dies. An intellectual property dies. A vast, unexplored universe dies. Beloved characters die, and its is a crying shame.

The Problem (with a capital P) isn’t the lack of originality, or an unwillingness to give up status quo, or not providing what consumers perceive as value-for-money, or developers doing shady stuff to extract every last dime from people. It’s all of those things. Seriously, the business tactics these people use will make you feel greasy if you study them in detail for too long.  These people are cashing in consumer trust for short term profits. Consumer trust is a very finite, fleeting and finicky concept. And we all know what happens when people get tired of your shit, don’t we THQ?

For more unsolicited opinions, check Gaming Central regularly.

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