Does a Name Make, or Break, a Game?

Does a name make or break a game?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.


3 thoughts on “Does a Name Make, or Break, a Game?

  1. A name shouldn’t make or break a game, but you’re right that it does. The name doesn’t necessarily make a game good or bad, but it affects what people may think of the game. People, as well as companies, are very dependent on brands and IPs, so each name carries expectations with it. Your examples are spot-on. I wish people wouldn’t hate on Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but there is that precognition that it’s not a true Metroid Prime game. Then again, if it were just called Federation Force and dropped Metroid altogether, people might not even notice the game, for better or for worse.

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    1. Thank you, first of all.

      Yes, it sucks that some games, like Federation Force, are given crap, but at the same time, fans, right or wrong, expect a certain style game when it comes to the name.

      Look at MGS V, people love the gameplay but the biggest complaint I see from fans is “well, it just isn’t a MGS game.”

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  2. OK, Federation Forces is out, so we can stop pretending it is anything more than a mediocre co-op objective shooter… The likes of which is a well saturated genre full of games much much better than federation forces.

    We can also stop pretending that tons of people didnt NAIL everything that was wrong with the game from its gameplay trailers. Brain dead level design, frursteratingly slow traversal mechanics that didn’t take into account the size of The hallways the player would be forced to perpetually travel, and painfully brain dead ‘puzzle design’.

    Federation forces wasn’t just a departure from the series traditions with impeccably bad timing, it was a poor entry in the genre it entered. Its not simply shunned because it has the metroid name, that is an incredibly shallow and disengenious take on the matter…. That relies solely on cherry picking ‘gamer’ personas and hot takes, and ignoring everyone who actually gave a reason.

    Past that, times do change…. But not this fast. Movies have been going over the same tropes for over a century, books for thousands of years. Videogames have existed for mere decades, and are infinitely more sophisticated than either of the former… The times change argument doesn’t hold water. Graphics age, mechanics age, design doesn’t.

    Take another look at Naughty Dog. They haven’t changed at all. Unless you think they blinked into existence in the 90’s and never existed before that. Naughty dog had several outliers to all their releases, the most well known was crash bandicoot. However, Naughty dogs staple has always been adventures like uncharted and the last of us… Since the day they released dreamscape. What’s changed has been the graphics and mechanics. What used to be still picture point and click adventures due to technology restraints have become real time. What hasn’t changed has been naughty dogs fantasy adventure design foundation.

    Metroid Prime was a huge departure from everything that came prior. The graphics were completely different, the gameplay and mechanics were completely different. The design was 100% faithful. It was a huge hit. Good design does not age, it simply uses newer tools to achieve its direction and vision.

    Monster hunter Stories is a side game in a completely different genre that is beloved by the monster hunter player base. The difference is, it looks to be an outstanding entry in the genre its in.

    Completely contrary to this peice, Kings Field owes its renewed success to a name change rebranding. From software changed the name of the next entry of the series to Demon souls with a new marketing campaign preparing players for what to expect. Yeah, the old school design resonated. Times did not change. Good Design does not age.

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