Franchises are a valuable thing in the gaming industry. Nothing guarantees your title huge sales so much as a big, shiny name slapped on it: Call Of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Fallout. Sometimes it’s not just a name, it’s more a suggestion of quality; in spite of the number of iterations in the GTA series, it’s hard to pick a game among them that isn’t at the very least “very good”. Other, older and beloved game series that have suffered a long hiatus are also ripe for reworking. Who WOULDN’T want to see a new Crash Bandicoot, or a reworked Banjo Kazooie?
It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. Franchises can make for tedious, repetitive game design, poor publishing decisions and lazy, greedy marketing. Making the same game over and over might make you money, but it’s unlikely to win you prestige or the respect of gamers. When they become spun out, tired, and unoriginal, franchises can start to feel less like “giving the fans what they want” and more like “taking our money and then firing us a big middle finger back”....
Battlefield 4 was released in a broken state in order to fit in the same release window as franchise rival Call of Duty, whilst Warner Bros Montreal sparked outrage this week by stating they are too busy making money-spinning DLC for Batman: Arkham Origins to fix existing bugs within the game. We can tolerate this kind of repetitiveness and aggressive publishing for a while if it means we get fun games in series that we love. But after a while it gets tiring, and you start to wish studios would stop using their budgets for mediocre series additions and start investing in new IPs. Here are some of the worst offenders.
When a franchise hasn’t been good for over a decade, someone needs to say something. Sonic might be one of the most iconic video game characters ever - alongside, perhaps, Mario and Rayman - but whilst the Italian plumber and limbless wonder have kept their interest and polish through the decades, Sonic has not. I’ve put him bottom of the rankings for good reason, however. Whilst most of these franchises I could happily see die a death with little remorse, Sonic as a character is still both endearing and enduring. Now if someone could just design even a tolerably good title for him to star in, that would be just great…
5. Dynasty Warriors
There’s really not much to say about Dynasty Warriors. They’re ok games. Some of them are even fairly good. But really, who cares; it’s eight games in 15 years, all (with the exception of the first) pretty interchangeable. One would have been enough, or maybe at a push, two, with a reboot a decade or so later just for those fans (if, indeed, there are any) who wanted more.
Dynasty Warriors isn't exactly taking away anything from the gaming market. Unlike some entries on this list, later iterations don't ruin happy memories of earlier, more wonderful franchise entries. It's more of a question of would anyone really miss this series if they stopped making any more of them?
There’s something annoying about trilogies that spill over and become tetralogies. Mainly because they usually aren’t tetralogies. They’re a trilogy that made a few guys a butt-load of money, so they decide to tack a forth title on the end entirely for profit and not at all to bring joy to gamers. It works for films as well as games. Indiana Jones 4? Really though?
Halo was wrapped up fine after 3 games. We could probably let them go after four, even if the last one was a significant step down from the older games, but it seems they are now punting for a fifth.
Bungie have cut their losses and made the wise choice to go and make Destiny instead, because, well, it’s a game that their fans might actually want to play. Meanwhile, Titanfall has jumped into the whole “big Microsoft exclusive” spot that used to be Halo’s own, rendering the series unfortunately pretty arbitrary. The problem with this approach is that not only are unwanted sequels usually mediocre, they also make take a little something away from the series as a whole.
3. Call Of Duty
Call Of Duty needs to die. Sure, with eight games in eight years, it’s pretty hard to innovate, but it’s not so much this that is hard to get on board with when it comes to the Call of Duty franchise. Sure, it’s repetitive, and not exactly brimming with originality, but that’s not the key issue that Call of Duty needs to die so much as the annual dire slog through torrents of fanboys and haters having long, tedious arguments about whether or not Call of Duty sucks or not. I would also argue that once a year is too regular a release for ANY franchise (yes, I am looking at you, Assassin’s Creed). However great your game is, sometimes we just need time to absorb and get bored of the last one in the series before we have another one forced down our throats with 6 months of pre-release hype and 6 months of post-release DLC. It’s never ending. Not to mention that, alongside zombie games, modern-day FPS war games are a dime a dozen right now, apparently under the impression that quantity is much more important than quality.
2. Resident Evil
Oh Resident Evil, how far the mighty have fallen. If the first three games in the series were good, they shone with not quite so bright a light as Resident Evil IV; for many the indisputable king of the series. But not only is the current market pretty flooded with zombie games, but Resident Evil V and VI were pretty mediocre games. It pains me to say it, but short of an inspired and fantastic reboot of the earlier games in the series, it’s hard to see potential future Resident Evil games doing anything more than digging the franchise’s grave ever deeper.
1. Final Fantasy
If someone had told me back in 2000 that my future, adult self would wish no more Final Fantasy games upon the world, I would have laughed in their face. But it’s because I am such a huge fan of the Sakaguchi-era games that I really, really want this franchise to end. That long decade since Square became Square Enix has been dark; Final Fantasy XIII was a tedious, linear slog which for some utterly inexplicable reason has now spawned two sequels, XIV started off unplayable and even now, with its reskin, still insists on employing the dying monthly subscription model.
As well as that, we have Square Enix pushing out mobile versions of the classic 90s games in the series for the insulting price of £10.99. Come on, guys, it’s a TWENTY YEAR OLD GAME. Add the micro-transaction ridden piece of crap that was Final Fantasy All The Bravest and the perpetually-in-development Final Fantasy XV, and you have a lethal cocktail for Square Enix to totally ruin your childhood.
As franchises continue to become a safe way for gaming giants to milk our wallets dry from fan loyalty, we need to know when to say enough is enough. There are plenty of other near-miss franchises that could have made it onto our list. Tekken and Soul Calibur, for pretty much the same reason as Dynasty Warriors. Gears of War, for the same reason as Halo. If you think we’ve missed any serial offenders, let us know in the comments section!
Which game franchises would you like to see die a quick, painless death?