Does a name make or break a game?
As gamers we all know what we like. Some of us like first person shooters, while others prefer adventure games. Even if you like first person shooters you might enjoy the likes of Call of Duty over Battlefield. This is fine and the reason why there’s various franchises to a dedicated genre: we need diversity. Lately I’ve been noticing some franchises are abandoning their personal style in favor of something that’s popular and that will sell.
At E3 this year we were treated to trailers for God of War and Resident Evil VII. The games look interesting for sure but they seem to be changing into something different. God of War has been a hack and slash franchise similar to Devil May Cry. Unlike Devil May Cry, God of War doesn’t have a learning curve and is very easy to pick up and play. The camera is fixed which allows you to focus on the action and string together combos. This new game, however, looks like it plays like a third person shooter. The emphasis on action is gone and it seems more like a cinematic experience.
Resident Evil VII is going for a more Silent Hills, P.T. approach. After Resident 5 and 6 were focused heavily on action, this direction seems like something fans would want. However, it is still different from traditional Resident Evil tropes. It seems to be more on the psychological side of horror than Resident Evil’s more horror cliche style.
So will these games sell because it’s a franchise people are familiar with? Of course it will. It might alienate older fans in the process though. A friend of mine never played anything before Resident Evil 4, so he actually really enjoyed Resident Evil 5 and 6. Resident Evil VII on the other hand looks foreign to him so he’s going to pass. It’s not the Resident Evil he’s familiar with, even though it could be a solid survival horror in its own right, he can’t get past that it’s called Resident Evil, but doesn’t look like Resident Evil.
A name can indeed make or break a game for many fans. Metroid Federation Force is a fun cooperative shooter, but since it’s called Metroid, it’s become shunned by virtually everyone. So why not create new IP’s when a developer has a new idea?
A good example I can think of is Naughty Dog. If there’s one thing Naughty Dog does well, it’s take something people enjoy at the time, but add their own spin and polish. Platformers were popular in the 90’s, so Naughty Dog made Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot was a major success but instead of continuing it, Naughty Dog had other ideas and decided to just make a new IP. If they had decided to make Crash Bandicoot into an Adventure game we would’ve never got Uncharted and fans everywhere would’ve raised an eyebrow at Crash doing Nathan Drake style moves and gun play.
Times change and people change with it. While it’s important to have an open mind about change, there’s also such a thing as “too different”. Whether the next God of War is an action game, or not. People will judge it as a God of War game. Same with Resident Evil and other franchises. So maybe it’s best to leave franchises behind and create something new for the next generation. That way, you never know what’s on the horizon.