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Late bloomers: A look at popular franchises that weren't always that well known

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Everybody and their mother has heard of Call of Duty and Final Fantasy, but for some franchises, this notoriety wasn't always the case. While some franchises resonate with the public straight away, some others don't manage to garner popularity until later sequels.

These series are like the scrawny kid in gym class who transforms into a beast after hitting puberty. So join me as I chronicle gaming's late bloomers!

Image source: Cinema Blend

Published Sep. 22nd 2015
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    There is a major dissonance between your title and content in this piece.

    Most of the series mentioned here have always been known, except perhaps the first entries in the GTA series. Have all of these series been major franchises making the gazillions of dollars they do now? No, but none of these fit "little known series."

    The Elder Scrolls was a major hit before Morrowind. That game just brought it to consoles and opened the floodgates, same with Fallout 3.

    Final Fantasy was an instant hit. The game was named "Final" because Hironori Sakaguchi believed the game to be the last Square would ship. Now the title is a testament to the legacy.

    Assassin's Creed was one of the most anticipated games of the last generation. it was a monumental success, and its success is the only reason we have the bloated, over-saturated franchise today.

    Call of Duty 2 was a major launch title for the 360.

    Resident Evil and Metal Gear were two of the defining series for the new Playstation which helped it compete against the juggernaut of Nintendo.

    This could be a solid and informative piece, but your lack of knowledge and research allowed the piece to fall flat on its face. Why not take another stab at it while mentioning actual obscure series?
  • Contrabardus
    Gaming history fail.

    Very few of these were actually all that obscure. Especially to gamers.

    Many weren't well known in popular culture because they started out in the era when games themselves were not really mainstream culture, but any gamer would have known them.

    A few are claimed to be 'obscure' based on the fact that they weren't released for consoles, which isn't true. Witcher notably. It was never obscure, it was just exclusive. It sold so well that the sequel became a big budget affair that made it's way to consoles.

    Niche and Exclusive games are not necessarily obscure games. The first two GTA games are pretty much the only titles here that really were in any way 'obscure' to begin with.

    The rest just predated the rise of gaming in popular culture, are incorrectly identified as 'obscure', or were not available for consoles to begin with. Daggerfall was a huge hit in it's day as a PC release for example, Metal Gear was one of the 'must have' games for the NES when it was released. Anyone with a PC that could run it would have had the first few Fallout games. Some of the spinnoff games might qualify as 'obscure' but the main series definitely not. Call of Duty was one of the two biggest WWII shooters of it's era, it was pretty much the only thing competing with Medal of Honor back then, and both were huge hits.

    Your lack of age shows here by your choices for what qualifies as 'obscure'. Very few of these franchises were anything of the sort at any point in their history. They were often not mainstream entertainment because games as a whole were not at the time, but they were also not unknown hidden gems.

    Most of these were popular releases when they came out and while not stuck in the popular culture's mindset at the time, any gamer worth their salt would recognize most of those games.

    In conclusion, research better. You're misusing the term 'obscure'. Many of the games didn't become pop culture icons until later, but that had more to do with the fact that gaming as a whole was outside of it at the time.
  • katlaborde
    Featured Contributor
    Well, the whole point of the article was to show how popular specific series have become with the rise of gaming culture.

    I'm sure, although you're right I am young and wasn't that invested in gaming then, that these series had a fan base. If they didn't, there probably wouldn't been as much hype for new entries into the series. However, gaming was nowhere near as big then as it is now so I thought it would be interesting to highlight the moments where these series became household names.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    There's a difference between a series becoming a household name and being obscure until recent memory. What's worse is you give so little context and meat to each piece that it hardly feels like the reader gains anything from reading the slideshow. I can understand maybe holding back on that religious piece to not upset anyone, but this is a topic with plenty of things to dig into.

    You could have talked about the whole reason Call of Duty was born out of issues with EA and the Medal of Honor franchise. You could discuss how The Witcher series had, for years, had bad multimedia spin-offs (including a terrible movie) before receiving CD Projekt RED's series.

    A piece of evergreen content is supposed to be enriched with information the reader wouldn't already know. If your audience knows what you're saying already, they won't bother reading the rest of the way through. Find an angle we don't already know about these games. Just reiterating what people already grasp isn't interesting, and they'll leave before finishing reading the piece.

    Finally, actual games that would surprise the average gamer to know were once obscure:
    The Souls Series, Killzone, Trine, Hitman, Dead Island/Dying Light, Total War, Far Cry, Just Cause, Red Faction, Beyond Good & Evil, Telltale Adventure Games, Battlefield, Portal, Oddworld, Arma, and plenty more games that flew under the radar for a while after they launched, if not years and sequels down the road, before ever getting any acclaim or success.

    I'm not trying to be a hardarse about this, but like with your religious article, I'm noticing a sincere lack of depth. Your writing style itself is great, but each piece feels manufactured, not written. If you care about these subjects, it's really not coming across in the material.
  • katlaborde
    Featured Contributor
    I appreciate the advice. I work full-time and go to school full-time so I do try my best each week with the articles. I know they are not super in depth, but time is not always on my side.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    And I appreciate what it means to work with a full work load. In fact, I know some colleagues who hold down multiple jobs on top of their journalistic work and post-secondary educations. They still strive for their content to be enriching and worthwhile.

    To be clear, I'm not saying these articles need to be on par with Lindsay Ellis or Noah Gervais, but you really should consider what your audience is actually getting from your content. It's more important to give substantial content that takes long, but also has longstanding worth and views. Brief, rapid content can burn you out mentally in the long run.
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    I am a full-time student in nursing school. I work three jobs, and I am a father. I know time is rarely on your side.

    However, you never see me push a piece lacking in detail or knowledge on the topic without a good reason or disclaimer.
    You should never rush a piece and deliver a lackluster article to meet a deadline. Give yourself a bit more time and make your article stronger.

    It would be more beneficial than pushing an article that makes you seem ignorant or lacks depth. Always strive to deliver the best you can!
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    I dunno... I think that AC1 and 2 were pretty popular. And I think Final Fantasy started off as being a 1 off, but it sold pretty well.
  • katlaborde
    Featured Contributor
    I was trying to focus the article more on how the popularity of the series grew incredibly with certain entries, not so much on sales.

    There was a lot of excitement for Assassin's Creed, but it ended up being disappointing. I chose AC2 as it was hugely popular for expanding on everything wrong with the first game.

    As for Final Fantasy, the hype for Final Fantasy 7 was unlike any other title in the series. Even non gamers knew about Final Fantasy from the endless commercials being played at the time comparing 7's graphics to that of movies. I like to think it was a turning point in the series in terms of popularity.

    Thanks for the comment!
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    ah right OK, cheers.

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