When gaming franchises stagnate

Whenever a popular video game evolves into a video game franchise, it’s only natural that all subsequent games would fall into old patterns, often repeating the same gameplay formula over and over again very little differences. The odd thing is that some franchises are singled out because of this, while other franchises can get away with blatant repetition.

mega man x6

I’m looking at you, Mega Man X6.

There are quite a few franchises that suffer blatant repetition, but when I think about stagnating gameplay, there are four franchises that I think of:

  • The Mega Man franchise
  • The Dynasty Warriors franchise
  • The Call of Duty franchise
  • The Mario franchise (yes, I said it)

One thing I’ve noticed is that most Mario games follow pretty much exactly the same, especially in the 2D platforming titles, but nobody really seems to care that’s the same formula, which I guess is excusable since Mario still plays well. One thing I don’t get is how the Mario and Call of Duty games keep getting glowing reviews from critics even if it’s just the same game every year, but when Mega Man and Dynasty Warriors fall into a stagnating pattern, the critics aren’t as flattering towards those games.

Meanwhile, ordinary gamers on the Internet still praise the Mario and Mega Man franchises despite subsequent games growing stale, but Call of Duty meanwhile has become the most reviled video game franchise on the Internet for more than that exact reason. It’s gotten so bad that some people hate Call of Duty games just because it’s a Call of Duty game.

Doesn’t it seem really bizarre that some video game franchises are allowed to stagnate just because of their status as “classic games”, while other game franchises like Call of Duty and FIFA receive tons of hate for falling into the same pattern just because they’re popular today. There’s one word for this sort of mentality – hypocrisy.

Seriously, it’s as though both critics and gamers selectively decide which franchises have gone stale based solely on their popularity. Critics seem to give Mario and Call of Duty nothing but praise, while on the Internet, we have an army of cynics who’ll spam hate on the popular games for no good reason other than the fact that they’re popular, or because they hate the fanbase.

Another thing odd I notice is that whenever the next entry in an established video game franchise does something new and risky, there’s a good chance that the fans of that franchise are likely to hate on it before it even comes out. The two best examples of this are Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and DmC: Devil May Cry.

dmc devil may cry

Haters gonna hate.

Are fans really unable to tolerate change whatsoever? Having not played any of the Devil May Cry games first hand, I don’t see how Dante’s design is really horrible. Yes, he looks worse than the old Dante, but at least he still has personality. Is that not enough for one of the most implacable fanbases in the history of gaming? It’s just as bad is basically saying it’s okay for the Devil May Cry franchise to repeat the same formula over and over again, and we all know how good Capcom is at repeating the same game over and over again.

Through all this, I’m trying to say that we shouldn’t forgive one video game franchise for stagnating while criticising other video game franchises for the same reason. Not only does this make no sense, but it’s also a blatantly illogical double standard.


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