Game franchises are hard to create because they typically happen spontaneously. Sequels and franchises are about creating another game that is placed in the same world, but they continue the story or tell a different one. The problem is that sequels and franchises are created from successful games, and it can sometimes be hard to predict what games are going to succeed. Another issue is that some games are meant to be stand-alone titles, thus making sequels a little more difficult to create. When a franchise does start to take off, it can become extremely successful and this is why people try to create them so often.
The whole idea of a sequel is that it continues the story of the first game, and a franchise is about creating another story within the world of the first game—sometimes this means that the stories have no bearing on each other. Halo 2 and Halo 3, are sequels of Halo. While The Elder Scrolls is a franchise. The Elder Scrolls games are all set in the same world, but the events of each game happen differently from each other.
The difficulty with creating sequels and franchises is that the first game has to be successful enough to warrant a second game. This can often times be difficult because some games may not do as well as others. Take for example, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, that game was supposed to spawn another franchise, but the game did only moderately well and thus could not support the development of a second game (there were some non-gaming related issues with the developer 38 Studios that led to the closure of the studio). That game had a very large back-story created for the world, and any number of games could have been integrated into said world.
The other problem with not knowing what games are going to be successful is that some games are meant to be stand-alone titles. Having a game that ends nicely makes creating a sequel slightly difficult. Halo was a game that concluded nicely, but it was so successful that they found a way to create a whole franchise out of it.
There can however, be an issue with publisher’s over-using a franchise though. When a publisher creates a successful franchise, such as Rock Band for example, they will milk that franchise as much as they can. And for a while, people will purchase all the games that are a part of that franchise, but then after a while people will get sick of said franchise and sales will drop. This is what happened with Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the games were coming out too quickly and the players were over-saturated with content. Now if the publishers had waited a little while between game releases, then the outcome for those franchises might have been different, but it may not have mattered either.
Franchises are valuable, which is why developers and publishers strive to create them by making games that sell well, and are able to be given a sequel easily. This can lead to games that may not be as good if the developer and publisher didn’t try to force a second game. I would call this the Star Wars syndrome, where there is a deliberate cliffhanger, thus making the public have to purchase the third installment to find out what happens. This occurred in Halo 2, where when you finish the game, the battle for earth hasn’t been concluded and where the third game picks up.
Sequels and franchises are able to bring in large sums of money for developers and publishers, but it is unpredictable when they are going to be created. This is due to the varying success of games. I wish that publishers would not force developers to create games with cliffhangers simply to force a sequel. If a franchise is created naturally, the game quality is ten times higher than a franchise that is forced upon the public.
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