Should Changing Franchises Be Split Up?
So here's the deal: whatever you happen to like or love about a franchise probably doesn't matter anymore.
That's the reality these days. For better or worse the genres are getting all mixed up, big sales numbers often depend on appealing to (or appeasing) the mainstream, and traditional gameplay elements are being jettisoned along with their corresponding adherents. I can't blame anyone who wants to bemoan these things in internet comment sections but for now I've had a thought: why not just split up these franchises with controversial changes?
I fully understand that it would not be cheap, but the goal wouldn't just be to appease fans of previous play styles. The goal would still be for companies to profit. Imagine a gaming landscape where there were still turn-based Final Fantasy games, a continuation of Devil May Cry's original story line, a new storyline for Mass Effect that was mostly RPG, or a subset of Resident Evil and Dead Space games that were still survival/horror.
Resident Evil: Revelations is on its way to consoles but we have to remember it is still a handheld port. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light turned out great but it wasn't exactly the same classic experience and was more of a dungeon crawler. Personally I think the new Tomb Raider is a perfect reboot and upgrade for the series, but we should remember that there is already an install base of fans for the stylized Lara and her original gameplay.
It's the same for all of the franchises that have made big changes; a fan base is left behind wanting more of what they love. Nature abhors a vacuum. Doesn't it make sense to fill that void with something instead of trying to convert the old fans to new gameplay? Sometimes it works but more often you wind up with a whole group of angry gamers exploding with rage across the interwebs and messing with your review scores.
As far as production costs go, I've noticed that less is more for traditional fans. A true survival/horror game relies on tension and emptiness instead of set pieces and special effects. Old school Final Fantasy games (and JRPGs in general) relied on great stories, character development and clever battle systems instead of quick and constant action and flash. Basically fans of older gameplay just want what once was back with a nice coat of next gen polish over it. Developers could share resources to reduce cost and all the really hardcore fans would likely buy both the mainstream and the traditional titles. I know when I find something I like I get everything associated with it that I can find.
But wouldn't things stagnate quickly? Well, no, and I'll tell you why. All that fans of traditional gameplay ever wanted was for certain things to stay sacred. They were never against innovation or change, they only wanted advancement within the original framework of the franchise. New ideas are welcome, new ways of implementing mechanics too, as opposed to a policy of replacement. JRPGs managed to be fresh for decades by doing the same things in new ways. Fans just never saw the need for certain games to change genres, or they enjoyed the updates but miss things like the more open atmospheres of the original DMC titles.
So what do you think? Is it a good idea for developers to split up franchises for fans who differ, or would that just dilute their quality and over-saturate the market? In an effort to increase member interaction across PSXE's main page and forums I urge you to vote for or against this proposal in a poll I've created in the forums and then comment either here or there. :)
4/25/2013 David Nelson