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The Marcon Diaries: Sequels, Spin-offs and Remakes

Posted by Erin Marcon On Wednesday 16 March 20111 COMMENT

The Marcon Diaries provides the editor of this publication with an opportunity to share his innermost thoughts and desires. You have been warned.

I’d like to see the industry focus more on the development of original properties. Take the 3DS. While the system itself shows a lot of promise, the launch line-up isn’t exactly inspiring, particularly in Australia. Of the 15 or so titles due to arrive on day one, not one is a new IP. How many times do they expect us to buy Ridge Racer or Splinter Cell or Rayman? Speaking more broadly, more than 60% of the games to arrive at retail since the beginning of the year have been sequels, spin-offs, remakes or licensed fare. That, to me, is a little disappointing.

BioShock may have struggled to gain traction with audiences prior to release, but it eventually became a bestseller and an ongoing series. The same can be said for Dead Space, Dead Rising, Darksiders and other original IPs beginning with ‘D’ (we won’t mention Dark Void). Publishers have a choice. They can either factory farm their gradually declining portfolios until they are as irrelevant as Guitar Hero, or they can carefully manage their established hits while simultaneously searching for the next big thing. Today’s new IPs are tomorrow’s blockbuster franchises. That said, I’ll definitely be churning out sequels to Leather Fist, my one great Game Dev Story success.

I’d like to turn for a moment to the difficulty associated with marketing original properties. Publishers should tear a page from the Hollywood playbook and be far more aggressive in highlighting the track record of its talent (unless they’re Team Ninja). When Monsters Inc arrived in cinemas, even Joe Average knew it was from the studio responsible for Toy Story. This important little reminder was included on the theatrical one sheet (above the title no less). It then reappeared on the DVD cover art. By contrast, when Beyond Good and Evil arrived in 2003, the words ‘from the creator of Rayman’ were notably absent from the front of the box. Promoting an original game is challenging enough without ignoring one of the key the tools at your disposal.

Sequels will (and should) continue to play an important role in the growth and evolution of gaming. Imagine a parallel universe in which Valve pulled the plug on Half-Life 2 and Rockstar didn’t bother with a third GTA. Unless for some reason the people of this alternate Earth are prepared to make me their king, I don’t want to live there. The point is, I’m not pressing for an end to sequels. I’m pressing for an end to the soulless cash-ins that dominate the release schedule these days. Ten years ago, Super Monkey Ball was a revelation. Today, it’s just another game. I’d much rather see SEGA devote its resources to the development of new worlds, new characters and new gameplay mechanics. If SEGA demonstrated a commitment to these principles, we probably wouldn’t be quite as cynical when the latest Sonic The Hedgehog or Super Monkey Ball rolled of the production line.

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One Comment

  1. valleyshrew says:

    I think a great example of sequels being good and bad is the final fantasy series. Every new entry in the series is like a new IP. FFVII is far more different from FFXIII than call of duty is from battlefield.

    Between 1997 and 2001 (5 years) they released VII, VIII, IX, X and Tactics. All fantastic games at the pinnacle of their genres creativity and adventure. They’re not really sequels, and this is how it should be done in a deep game. You see the same thing with the GTA and Fallout series.

    From 2002-2011 (10 years) they’ve only released 2 new full quality games (XII and XIII), the latter of which was more of a dumbed down spin off than a proper FF experience. Instead of focusing on new games (XII was also actually partly a sequel to tactics/vagrant story), they saw more money in cheap shallow brand milking. So they released: 6 sequel spin offs, 2 MMOs (the latter of which was a huge failure), 13 rereleases, 5 crystal chronicles spin offs, 2 remakes, several mobile phone spin offs, a CGI movie spin off, a shooter spin off, 2 chocobo spin offs, 2 shallow downloadable games & a crossover fighting game. Their future release schedule also includes a number of spin offs and sequels. XIII is to get a direct sequel, as is the fighting game. Then there’s the whole kingdom hearts spin off series which has it’s own spin offs. Luckily Versus and type-0 appear to be original games.

    Sakaguchi speaking in 1998 (FFVII bonus disc):
    “The stories and characters change each time. This is because stories tend to limit a world and I think by changing these aspects and creating new material for each title, we try to show our full potential.”

    Yoicha Wada speaking recently:
    “It’s very difficult to hit the jackpot, as it were. Once we’ve hit it, we have to get all the juice possible out of it.”

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