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Opinion: 'What Dooms A Franchise' Response

Following yesterday's publishing of the Gamasutra report on Jason Kraft and Chris Kwak's latest '...
Following yesterday's publishing of the Gamasutra report on Jason Kraft and Chris Kwak's latest 'Video Game Journal' for the Susquehanna Financial Group, dealing with the question, "What dooms a game franchise?", UK-based game designer Tadhg Kelly has written a Letter to the Editor arguing against the analyst findings. We reprint Kelly's response in full below, and invite anyone wishing to reply further to write a Letter To The Editor (free reg. req.) in response: "Analysts essentially say that what dooms a franchise is the lack of significant leaps forward in graphical and interaction capabilities (such as saying that the lack of on-line play kills you stone dead). This is nonsense. What kills a franchise is one of three things. One, when its sequels are so poor that they effectively rubbish the brand in the eyes of its target consumers, therefore telling them to stay away. For example, True Crime New York sold very badly owing to the fact that the first iteration was pretty dull and the second one failed to show why it would be better. Another example is Turok. Two, when they deviate sufficiently from the original that they don't offer the same strong value proposition to the fanbase while at the same time failing to define a new value proposition of their own. Tomb Raider, for example, used to be a platform game with big boobies. Then it mutated into wanting to ape Splinter Cell etc, losing its own identity in the process and weakening its brand and value proposition by failing to distinctively define a new one. Third, when the franchise remains within a genre which the public as a whole has grown bored of. Second world war games will eventually run their course, for example, just as platform games pretty much have, and graphical adventures. Sometimes cultural factors just make one kind of entertainment un-cool and there's nothing that can be done to rescue it. There is no power on earth that can save an idea whose time has gone. The two factors of limitless interactivity and graphical punch are not major influencers. I know this because Nintendogs is one of the highest selling games of all time, especially on the comparatively weedy DS, which shows that strength in games brands is defined not by the offer of limitlessness and uber-graphics, but the right kind of limits and the right level of graphics. A 3D on-line 20-million-dollar-budget Nintendogs would be a disaster, for instance, because it violates the basic values of the brand (portable cuteness in your pocket), complicates the game massively (and alienates its target audience) while failing to define a new value proposition for itself."

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