Monday, June 19, 2017

Sequels Rule the Roost

E3 is done! I hope they plan to open up passes next year for the public again, because I am camping those like a mofo and jumping in. While the content on the show floor looked amazing and it was great to see so much more of the event as it happened, the major developer presentations were just okay. I know some people are raving about how Nintendo won, or Sony won. But really, did anyone "win" this round?

E3 2017 is going to be marked as the year of sequels and remakes. What's more annoying is that all of us are going to buy the content. I am ready and waiting for the South Park sequel, as well as Mario Odyssey and the Crash Bandicoot re-release.

The fact is that franchises work and sell because they are something people are familiar with. It's why we have a billion CSI spin-offs, so many Marvel superhero movies in the making, Resident Evil 7, and more Mario games then you probably don't know all of them. Why do people like sequels and prequels? What keeps us entertained seeing the same thing over and over again?

Part of it is comfort in knowing what we are going to get out of the product. When we play a game for the first time, whether it's The Last of Us or The Legend of Zelda, and we love the results, we treasure those feelings. We want future games to be able to capture those same emotions. That's what sequels are about - eliciting those same tones to cause us to react favorably towards the product. We want more Mario games because of the joy they provided us when we were kids - and Mario titles excel at capturing nostalgia. We want more Resident Evil with the unexpected fear and scares, because no other title has frightened us as much as RE. Even when the sequel isn't very good (sorry RE6, but I do mean you), we still want it for those nostalgic feelings the game creates.

This feeling of sticking with the known, not testing the waters, is why we have so many copy/paste stories. Can you remember the last time that we've had an original game with new plots that we haven't seen before? Look at war games: Call of Duty, Battlefield, Men of War, Company of Heroes. Is there anything unique about these titles, other then the developers behind them? Even the box art for each title looks incredibly similar. Why? Because there's comfort in knowing what to expect. For as much as I praise Horizon: Zero Dawn, it's still a mash-up of dystopian stories that have been told before.

This isn't to say that sequels are a bad thing, but it does provide a pretty bland environment when gaming can be so much more. For a medium with no boundaries, it seems content on following Hollywood for it's sequel trends.


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