5 Game Franchises That Need To Either Retreat or Reinvent

I go over my top game franchises that have just run their course.

-DISCLAIMER- The following statements reflect the opinions of the individual writing them, not those of GameSkinny.

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Call of Duty. Madden. Street Fighter. These are game franchises that have been staples of the video game community for a very long time. Some of them (in the case of Madden and Street Fighter) even go back a couple of decades.  Some of these franchises have seen so many releases (with some being at the same time every year) that we expect them to come out rather than anticipate.  “Hey it’s August, time for Madden!” “Well if you’re stumped about what to get me for Christmas every year, you can always get me the new Call of Duty.” I have heard these statements and others like them many times. Well I am here to say that some of these franchises need to stop. They need to either stop all together or take a time out to step back and reinvent themselves.

How dare I say such things

I am well aware that these games will not just simply go away. I know how much money would be lost to the parties involved. I know how much money Activision rakes in with Call of Duty.

I am also aware that, like the other sports franchises, we need a football game every season. I worked at GameStop (formerly EB Games) for nearly 15 years, so I know how popular these franchises are. All I ask is that you keep an open mind. It may be possible to see why it has been frustrating to witness what has happened with these franchises. The following is my list of top five franchises that need to either consider retirement, reinvention, or a different pacing for release.

Do I have to keep pressing A?

#5  Dynasty Warriors

The original game in the Dynasty Warriors series was released for the Playstation in June 1997. The game evolved from a fighting game to a 1v1000 hack and slash action game.

In the 16 years since it launched, we have seen over 20 entries into the franchise. Some of these entries even released multiple times in the same year. An example of this was Dynasty Warriors 3XL, 4, and 4XL, which were released in January, March and November of 2003 respectively.

Really? Do we need to get our Dynasty Warrior on three times in the same year? Also, the franchise is designed to be simple. This is meant to be inviting to beginners of either the series or action games in general. Yet, does being “inviting” mean you need to have a button push ratio of 10,000:1 in favor of the “A” button? This number is greatly exaggerated, of course. However, I find it way too repetitive to hit “A” five times then “B” once, then “A” ten times and maybe throw in a “Y” somewhere. Just for fun.

This series would benefit from a dramatic change to the combat mechanics and the 1v1000 gameplay. Give it smaller groups of enemies. Maybe throw in the combat style of the Arkham series or even Assassin’s Creed. Stop strictly catering these games to beginners. We live in a world where Dark Souls is like the second coming. You do not need to make these game that difficult to play, but find a nice middle ground somewhere.

Gotta catch ’em all!  Wait, how many are we up to?

#4 Pokemon

The first two Pokemon games released were Pokemon Blue and Red back during the Great Pokemon Card Crazy of the late ’90s. Back then, they were addictive, cute, and easy to play, especially for an RPG style game. Fast forward to today, and there have been over 40 entries into this series spanning multiple Nintendo consoles.

The series has seen several years where multiple Pokemon titles released, although some of them were offshoots of the core series. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games and the Pokemon Stadiums come to mind here.  The frequency of release and the fact that the core gameplay of the Pokemon series has not changed much at all puts them into the stale category.     

This series, however, is one of Nintendo’s biggest cash cows. This is reinforced by the fact that Nintendo launches most of these games in pairs. Then a year later launches a third one to accompany the pair from the previous year. “Let’s release another version of the two games we just released, except this one you can choose to start off with a Pikachu!” 

It comes as no surprise that almost immediately following their reported financial losses, there were two new Pokemon games announced. Well what else should we expect from The Pokemon Company?

Let’s play some football!!

#3 Madden

Let me start this one out by saying I am sorry for any player that gets on the cover of Madden every year. You all need to just say no to a Madden cover shoot.  

Moving on. This franchise does come out on a yearly basis, but that is to be expected with this series. However, because of this demanding launch schedule, you really can’t change or enhance the game enough. The developers simply do not have the time.

The games do suffer from this. I saw many times where customers just thought the game felt the same year after year. My question regarding this is, why have a full-blown retail release every year? Why not make all the roster changes and small gameplay and mechanic tweaks in a DLC release every year? This would free developers up to concentrate on a major release every two or three years. It would also give them time to make major gameplay modifications and just make a more outstanding product.

The only other item that I will nitpick here is the belief that competition breeds room for improvement. Well, EA took that away by purchasing the rights to the NFL. I can tell you that when I was working, we had a good number of customers that were praising the NFL 2K series. They liked the gameplay mechanics and praised the ESPN presentation.

Now these same customers trade in their copies of NFL 2K towards Madden, but still have good things to say about the 2K series.  Instead of working on improving Madden, they simply just said “f@#k it” and made it so only they could make an official NFL game. I’m sorry but that, to me, was a dick move.

Round 2.  Fight!

#2 Street Fighter and its clones

The first Street Fighter game to grace a console was Street Fighter II for the SNES.  The game was released back in 1992, and since then we have had upwards of 75 or more incarnations of the franchise and its clones. That’s roughly 75 games or more in the span of 22 years.

Really? That’s like three Street Fighter or Street Fighter-ish games a year for 22 years! You have everything here from the numbered incarnations to the entries that border on the ridiculous (Street Fighter The Movie: The Game, anyone?).

You have your Super SF‘s, your SF:Alpha‘s, SF crossovers (Marvel vs Capcom, etc), SF Turbo editions, Double Impacts, Third Strikes, Zero Editions, Anniversary Editions, Collections, and even one that is subtitled EX plus Alpha.

Then there are the clones. Games like Darkstalkers and the X-Men fighters like Children of the Atom. No, they do not have the Street Fighter cast, but they play exactly like the Street Fighter games so I am lumping them into this group as well.

This game has made improvements over the years, but those improvements come in the form of bigger, flashier combos, super attacks, focus attacks, etc, etc. Now I understand that it’s a fighting game. You really can’t dramatically reinvent fighting games. It is just the sheer number of entries into this series over the years, on top of how often they do not make any real changes that is so frustrating. This particular franchise I think needs to either slow way down or go away for a while. It’s just been too much.

This is where I will get in trouble

#1 Call of Duty

Now, before people come after me and say that I am biased against CoD or just a Battlefield fanboy, I feel I should state something.

I have played CoD since it was first released on the PC in 2003. I had been faithful to the series for a very long time, but in the past few years I have fallen out of love with this franchise.

It has just become too stale and is bordering on the realm of ridiculousness with each newer entry. Yes, I am referring to the coming of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I mean, bionic augmentation and crap? Really? Why don’t you guys just make it happen in the year 3000 and give us laser rifles and crap?

This franchise sees a new launch every November and has since it started. In the last several years, there have been two development studios in charge of the series. They alternate years so as to give each other another full year of development time for their own entry. To me, this gives a broken, non-cohesive approach to the series.

The plus side to this is that it does allow the opposite developers that extra year of time. Imagine how bad it would be if the Call of Duty games were done by the same developers every year? I shudder to think how rushed they would be.

Now there have been some positive changes. When they switched from World War 2 to modern-day, that was a very good thing. The addition and incorporation of a highly addictive online mode definitely boosted this franchise to new heights. Yet even that has just gotten too stale over the years. 

I will be the first to admit that Call of Duty needs eitehr a major reinvention or to go away. It pains me to say that, however. I love this franchise and have for a long time, but it’s just getting out of hand. I see Activision beating it into the ground as hard or harder than they have in the past. Don’t believe me? Remember what happened to the Tony Hawk series? Or how about Guitar Hero

After all, it’s all about the money. Why take a risk doing a major overhaul on a current franchise or give a huge backing to a new IP if we can bleed this one game series dry by just keeping it familiar?

I know that I have probably made a lot of people upset with my thoughts on this matter. I, however, feel that it had to be said. I am sure there will be much disagreement with what I have said here. Some of you may even have additions to this list. Please feel free to leave any feedback you have and remember, it’s only a game.


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Author
onpv3rtigo1
I have been into videogames my whole life. Started out with an Atari 2600 playing Combat and Berzerk. Now I'm playing games like Titanfall and Plants vs Zombies on Xbox One and 360. I am a fan of cartoons and sci fi. Family Guy, American Dad, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica are some of my favorites. I used to be into comics, more specifically X-Men but I haven't collected in years. My favorite games are the Mass Effect series, Elder Scrolls series, Doom and Descent. When I grow up I wanna be Wolverine ;)