The gaming industry has been in a very odd place for a few years now. Between yearly video game releases for franchises that haven’t really been all that great to begin with, and sequels for video games that didn’t sell too well, it puts gamers in a very strange position.
Do you take a chance on a sequel no one asked for? Or do you give into the hype for the latest yearly release? My perspective on this is that both of these issues have upsides and downsides.
Yearly releases are problematic, and Assassin’s Creed is a fantastic example of why. Assassin’s Creed Unity released in 2014 to terrible reviews and infamous bugs. However, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate released a year later to more positive reviews than previous entries in the franchise. Ubisoft (who seemingly have become infamous for releasing shoddy games) seemed to redeem themselves with Syndicate, while following up the mixed reception of Watch Dogs with a sequel that is set to release in November.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Indie Five Nights at Freddy’s series has had numerous releases within a short span of each other (the shortest of which being only a few months of development). While these games are relatively simple (and contain a cult horror following) the lack of variety between them (and short period between releases) has led to some criticism from critics and players.
When you get down to the meat of it, frequent releases can be good or bad depending on whether you are a fan of the series, or depending on how well polished the product is, and what each sequel brings to the table. The Call of Duty series has frequent releases, but is steadily praised for its developing mechanics, single player modes, and imaginative take on the future of warfare (not to mention the zombies mode).
As for video game sequels no one asked for, these can be a good thing; they are a chance for developers to right the wrongs of the previous game, as well as giving the IP a chance to redeem itself and become a household name. There are plenty of games that I wish had gotten sequels (Clover Studios’ Okami being one of them) so the prospect of some games getting sequels such as Star Wars Battlefront is both exciting and frustrating.
Games like the Just Dance series (which is getting yet another sequel in 2017) are fun, but from release to release not much changes. There is really no justifying why a new one is coming out, when DLC could just be made to add content to an already existing game. While IP’s like Prince of Persia, Portal, Half Life, Burnout, and a plethora of other franchises are left in the dust in favor of cash cows like Just Dance and Assassin’s Creed, it is left to the consumer to decide whether they would prefer to follow the status quo, or tell these developers what we want.
Sure, the developers may not listen, but last year showed that fans crying out about an Final Fantasy 7 Remake got developer attention (even if it took almost 20 years from the original release date). Crash Bandicoot fans also saw results this year at E3 with the reveal of Crash Bandicoot Remastered, so maybe there is hope for the ever elusive Half Life 3, or even Bayonetta 3 or Diablo 4 down the line.
As long as video game sequels and yearly releases are profitable, developers will continue on with them based on the same logic that has brought endless King Kong movies and Godzilla movies to the big screen. While we as consumers give them our money, these experiences (no matter how buggy or overbloated) will continue to be released.
If a game is well polished, why shouldn’t it get a sequel? As long as people are enjoying the games, why should we be bothered? Sure new IP releases like Horizon: Zero Dawn are exciting, but some people find yearly releases to be a good use of their time, and we as gamers should at least try to respect that.