Game Franchise + More Games = Milk Money?
Give me a break! Why is it that most of our favorite franchises are going downhill with the developer not even caring about their own fanbase in the process? It is pretty redundant and it is an ongoing problem for some developers who just only want to get their greasy hands on cash.
I, for one, think that it is pretty insulting for companies to do something like this and just make money on games that can either end up as being mediocre or just completely monotonous in the long run.
If a certain franchise was handled by its original creator who only wants to make money, then I still would have a problem with that, but if he or she has intentions to continue and appeal their fans, then that is where a franchise truly counts. Let me show you a strength and weakness that I have seen with two game franchises that we all come to know and love.
Mario - Nintendo always had its hits and misses when it comes to Mario, but one thing we know that is true is the fact that the company knows how to treat its mascot with great games for both newcomers and long-time fans, alike. Ever since the franchise was introduced with Donkey Kong Arcade in 1981, it was all about getting the highest score and none of us could be on par with a record holder like Steve Wiebe or Billy Mitchell.
It was a fun game with high replay value. Even its successor, Mario Bros. Arcade, followed the same path and it continues to please the crowd to this day. When the games started to take a different turn to the adventure/platform genre, we were surprised with how Nintendo can take a character that we have come to love and make a decent game with him in it.
That was the first clue when Super Mario Bros. arrived on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986 in the United States. Probably the first time I saw that Nintendo started to use Mario for something else was Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was a racing game, and it was outside the adventure/platform aspect of the series that we are all familiar with, but it was a big-hit seller with showing Mario characters driving in go-karts with power-ups to battle against each other.
It was pretty revolutionary on how well and optimistic the developers have become for the franchise, itself. The next turn where I saw Mario try something new was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars by Nintendo & Square (now Square-Enix) collaborating in making an role-playing game with Mario and making it very fun for almost anyone. As time has flown by for nearly two decades, Mario was displayed as a great icon to be used properly in a game under many different genres because Nintendo will create ideas that are different from your favorite franchises in many other genres.
That is what makes the Mario Sports, Racing, and RPG games so fun because they are different than what you see in a generic title for a game in any particular genre. Even though the games will sell for money, but Nintendo shows that Mario is a franchise that should not be taken for granted when it comes to creating games. It's not about the money, but it is mostly about respect.
Sonic - In 1991, SEGA was on the same page as Nintendo with delivering a game about their own mascot with fun and excitement for the gaming audience. Sonic the Hedgehog had potential to be in steady competition with Mario for a very long time, but it only seemed like it lasted for nearly a decade from the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive to the SEGA Dreamcast. Let us discuss the history of that before SEGA's mascot started to go downhill.
In 1985, SEGA released the SEGA Master System as being their first 8-bit console to compete with Nintendo, but it did not have so much to offer as most of their games are ports from different platforms but with graphic enhancements. In 1989, SEGA released their 16-bit system called the SEGA Genesis, and it wasn't until two years later that we were introduced to Sonic the Hedgehog.
The first game was a landmark where you have a blue hedgehog running fast and completing a stage with side-scrolling and platforming elements. It was original for the character and fun for the gameplay. The sequels on the Genesis met with the same response, but they delivered different elements in the gameplay, but kept the overall impression with what made the franchise great, like Mario.
Even Sonic CD on the SEGA CD was spectacular as many consider it to be the best game ever made in the franchise. Think about it. You could run from beginning to end in a stage, but you can select whether you want to complete the stage in the past, present, or future time for different results in the story or the gameplay. Now, that was really fun. After the success of Sonic & Knuckles on the Genesis with its cartridge lock-on peripheral, Sonic took a 3-4 year rest before making a comeback, but in 3D.
On September 9, 1999, SEGA launched their last game system, the SEGA Dreamcast, in North America as being the start of the 6th console generation. With the launch of the console was the launch of the first 3D Sonic game ever made. Sonic Adventure took everything you loved about the blue hedgehog and gave him a makeover in 3D, but kept the impression of what made the 2D side-scrolling games so great.
Not only that, but variety was a first because you played many different scenarios with different characters to make the story progress. Sonic Adventure 2 did the same thing, but it was still a great game by most people. After the demise of SEGA's hardware competition with Nintendo and Sony, the company decided to make Sonic games on their consoles, and that was the turning point as where the franchise started to go downhill and make SEGA care about money instead of their audience.
Sonic Heroes was fun and entertaining, but Shadow the Hedgehog to the recent release of Sonic Unleashed and Sonic and the Black Knight, I have said to myself, "What the hell am I playing? This is not what made Sonic so great in the first place." That is when I realize that SEGA cares more about milking Sonic for all that he is worth instead of treating him with respect.
Why? It is because they know that Sonic will sell for consumers. It is not about the gameplay either, but it is about the low-quality in their current games because or horrendous controls, frustrating encounters with bugs and glitches, and the awful voice acting from a company that disrespects the default demographics on some shows. Sonic has died for a little over half a decade. SEGA only worries about making money instead of continuing their competition with Mario.
The bottom line out of all of this is that there will be a franchise that will either continue to be respected or be ridiculed with the goal of making money for certain publishers. Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon met a similar fate when other franchise kings like Jak & Daxter, God of War, and Ratchet & Clank are bound to meet the same fate, soon. As long as an original creator continues to work for his own franchise with the goal of conitnued appeal for a game's fanbase, then that is where a franchise should go without the static need of money.
There is still time for SEGA to set things right before their mascot has to be set on life-support. If I started my own franchise, I would make sure it would follow in the same steps as Mario to where it is fun for everyone and not just the other way around. Now, I know what some of you are going to say. You will mostly say that a publisher has full rights to own a franchise.
That is true, but there comes a point where milking a franchise will just go way too far. It's not just the games, but it can be related to movies like James Cameron's Terminator series or the 007 James Bond movies. It is just a cheap marketing ploy for publishers to make money without even caring for their selected audiences. It seems to fall on deaf ears a lot of the time if there is a demand for a series to go back to its main roots or for sequels to long-past franchises like Kid Icarus.
I am not ashamed to admit that it was a total loss for Nintendo not bringing back Kid Icarus after Factor 5 went bankrupt, last month. This can be totally related to my blog about the evolution and downfall of the FPS genre as many games will be released that look the same as other franchises, in particular. Overall, a franchise should continue to be respected like always or they should be laid to rest, for the time being. Milk Money from a franchise is just wrong! End of story. Thanks for viewing my blog entry, and have a great day!