Jimquisition: Sequel or Slaughter

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Sequel or Slaughter

Must every new videogame become a sequel-spawning franchise? Is it through necessity, or simple avarice that mainstream game development makes it so?

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Speaking of the Last of Us, I couldn't have asked for a better ending to this video. Bravo.

Personally I think Studios should not be attached so much of creating squeals but instead creating new games with in the same setting. Unfortunately this means a lot of times they will be tempted to do the same thing again and again rather than explore new aspects of the setting.

You'd think most gamers would be happy with a solo act, but no, everyone demands at least a threesome.

This is why it irritates me every time the "What games deserve a sequel" thread pops up on this site. We have to accept part of the blame for this.

God how I love Bayonetta, and when I say that I kinda dislike the idea of Bayonetta 2 people usually say that it's because I don't have a Wii U. Well, for me the first Bayonetta ended with a perfect upbeat note and I think the sequel has more to lose than to win;

I prefer coolheaded Jeanne way over Bayonetta as a character, so maybe they do something nasty to Jeanne to force Bayonetta to a new adventure. Is there anything *reasonable* (yeah, right!) to challenge Bayonetta after she demolished friggin' Creator and the Four Virtues?

I did not ask for a sequel, but I understand those who do. It's just that I'm a bit worried for the setting of my favourite PS3 game...

PS: But I'll be getting the Wii U when Bayonetta 2's release date gets closer.

Love that you included the consumer as a part of the problem.

Ubisoft already expressed this opinion before the very first Assassin's Creed was even released. And now they seem to be fully embracing this ideal of turning every new IP into a baby factory before it's even conceived. Meaning Watchdogs will already be passť before we've even played it.

I like to see Shadow of the Colossus and ICO cited but I'm not sure they deserve to? Shadow was marketed as a "spiritual prequel" to ICO after all. And Sony's making Last Guardian, the third in a trilogy of similarly-themed games. So why cite them as examples of one-off stand-alone games, Jim?

Here's a simple, 3-step guide to the questions game publishers/develops should ask themselves when exploring the possibility of turning a stand-alone title into a franchise.

1). Was the game well received enough to warrant a sequel?

2). Are there enough people inside the company who actually WANT to make a sequel, that it can be done to at least the same level of quality as the first game, preferably better?

3). Did the conclusion to the first game leave ample opportunity to expand into a sequel?

NOTE: As should be self-explanatory by questions 1 and 3, such questions should only be asked AFTER the original game has been finished, released, and received by the press and public.

It is a sad state of affairs indeed, when the consumers feel like they have to spell out the fucking obvious to the people who claim to/ be the experts in the field.

Great video. Great response. Massive Franchises have a place and smaller one-offs have their place.

What's more, if a smaller one-off has its place then there's always a chance for a convoluted sequel of some sort. Making smaller new IPs is a way of testing and proding the market for what consumers want. Perhaps these big companies feel threatened by indie games that are becoming much more viable in the market place and are usually one-offs? This could become a form of market specialization in which bigger companies focus on the massive AAA franchize titles and smaller companies without the resources to do that take more risks?

Either way, an open mind = good business. A closed mind will be stagnation.

Ubisoft's stance is so retarded that I'm not even sure it's worth commenting on. Having an overinflated development and marketing budget and treating every single title you fund as a loss leader is going to make you implode. Sooner or later is debatable depending on your luck, but the outcome is certain. If I had invested in Ubisoft, I'd be losing a lot of sleep and preparing to pull out at the right moment.

It is ridiculous that the hobbit, a children's book much shorter than LoTR was turned into a freaking trilogy. I don't even care to watch it, because they're overdoing it. Simpsons should have ended long ago too.

So yeah, I agree with most of what you said. I do wish there were more of some things, but not if it means they are worse than the thing I love and drag it into the dirt by simply existing.

I'm still surprised they've managed to make so many AC games. It's not even a decent stealth game.

canadamus_prime:
This is why it irritates me every time the "What games deserve a sequel" thread pops up on this site. We have to accept part of the blame for this.

True, but I think there's a difference between "hey this game was really great I'd love to see another" and a company planning a trilogy before the first game even hits the market.

Johnny Novgorod:
I like to see Shadow of the Colossus and ICO cited but I'm not sure they deserve to? Shadow was marketed as a "spiritual prequel" to ICO after all. And Sony's making Last Guardian, the third in a trilogy of similarly-themed games. So why cite them as examples of one-off stand-alone games, Jim?

Because "spiritual prequel" doesn't count, they're three separate games, with three separate plots, with three separate gameplay styles. If it wasn't for the developer telling us they're related, nobody would have known.

Say what you will about COD but at least they alternate developers every year so each game gets at least 2 years in development and doesn't feel rushed. I have no problem will sequels but I agree that this is a big problem for the industry.

Johnny Novgorod:
I like to see Shadow of the Colossus and ICO cited but I'm not sure they deserve to? Shadow was marketed as a "spiritual prequel" to ICO after all. And Sony's making Last Guardian, the third in a trilogy of similarly-themed games. So why cite them as examples of one-off stand-alone games, Jim?

Heavy Rain is also a spiritual sequel of Fahrenheit, the point is that they're closed stories, with a definitive beggining and ending.

Normally I agree with you Jim, but I have one MAJOR problem with this episode: Back the fuck off the Hobbit. Making it a trilogy was Peter Jackson's idea, not the studio's. The studio approved it of course, but it became pretty evident during production that they weren't going to fit all of their ideas in two movies as originally planned. Because remember--it was originally supposed to be two movies. It was planned that way, and the studio approved it. And there was no doubt in anybody's mind it was going to make money. The halfway point for principle photography was about the same number of days into production as the halfway point for LotR. And the reason it's getting so long even though the Hobbit is such a simple story is because they're bringing in the necromancer story from the Silmarillion, which regales what Gandalf was doing when he wasn't with Thorin and Co. Also, I think he's fleshing out the culture of the elves of Mirkwood a bit, exploring their inner politics more than the original book did. But it's still all from Tolkien.

So that one comparison got a major NOPE from me. Peter Jackson is many things, but a sellout is not one of them. If anything, he had even more creative freedom with the Hobbit. I mean, who else can tell a studio "I want to completely restructure this project in and add a whole other movie to it" in the middle of production and have it approved? That not only requires a ballsy director to make the call, but a lot of trust on the studio's end that he can pull it off and not have the whole thing fall apart like a house of cards.

Ohhhhhh GOD! It's dripping! xP

As a fellow lover of Dynasty Warriors, I know exactly where you're coming from Jim. On the other hand, that's kinda a guilty pleasure seeing as how the DW games are almost all exactly the same, therefor failing your "need to be made" test. I like the improved graphics, the new characters, the various tweeks in interpretation to the stories and characters, but in the end if you've played one DW game you've pretty much played them all.

On the whole, though, I fully agree with your overall point. I used to be a big fan of the Assassin's Creed series. First game was fun, 2nd game was perfected, 3rd was pretty sweet and had a really fun multiplayer. And I believe after that is when they officially announced "Alright! Fire up the presses, time for a new game every year!" As such, Revelations was a rushed piece of crap, ACIII was just straight-up crap, and thus I have absolutely no intention of getting Black Flag. Like a piece of warm taffy, they've stretched and stretched and stretched that series until the story continue within it has become so thin and meaningless that it might as well not even be there.

undeadsuitor:
If it wasn't for the developer telling us they're related, nobody would have known.

That's the whole point though, isn't it? They tell us.

They tell us they're related, market them as related, sell them as related. The same group of people working under the same developer name for the same production company develop three similarly themed, similarly designed, similarly looking games that are marketed as part of the same franchise and the first two are even sold together nowadays, as halves of one story.

Would you rather do four hours worth of work and receive $60, or eleven hours worth of work and receive $200? I know which one my boss would prefer.

*Puts hand up* Guilty of wanting a Last of Us sequel.

I honestly cannot believe how many people didn't get last weeks video, but then again people always ask what the joke is in Critical Miss and believe Yahtzee is serious with half of the things he says, so perhaps people just struggle to understand the British?

Wenseph:
It is ridiculous that the hobbit, a children's book much shorter than LoTR was turned into a freaking trilogy.

Especially considering people could read the bloody book in a shorter amount of time than the length of the three films. Which is probably a first actually.

canadamus_prime:
This is why it irritates me every time the "What games deserve a sequel" thread pops up on this site. We have to accept part of the blame for this.

And the fact that gamers routinely are reticent to try something new.

Impossible to make a game that isn't a franchise... well someone should tell the Makers of Awesomenauts, FTL, DOn't Starve, Kerbal Space Programme, Rogue Legacy, etc, etc, etc.

I've said it before. the 3A game industry is slowly collapsing under it's own jaundiced weight. What it can't do... indie developers are doing and doing well.

I can understand the logic I mean if you spend the time and resources to develop an engine you want to make sure to get your returns. But of course what was done in the past was you developed the engine then licensed it at a reasonable rate to third parties to do with as they saw fit. You didn't build the house you built the tools. Of course greed stepped in.

Lilani:
Normally I agree with you Jim, but I have one MAJOR problem with this episode: Back the fuck off the Hobbit. Making it a trilogy was Peter Jackson's idea, not the studio's. The studio approved it of course, but it became pretty evident during production that they weren't going to fit all of their ideas in two movies as originally planned. Because remember--it was originally supposed to be two movies. It was planned that way, and the studio approved it. And there was no doubt in anybody's mind it was going to make money. The halfway point for principle photography was about the same number of days into production as the halfway point for LotR. And the reason it's getting so long even though the Hobbit is such a simple story is because they're bringing in the necromancer story from the Silmarillion, which regales what Gandalf was doing when he wasn't with Thorin and Co. Also, I think he's fleshing out the culture of the elves of Mirkwood a bit, exploring their inner politics more than the original book did.

So that one comparison got a major NOPE from me. Peter Jackson is many things, but a sellout is not one of them. If anything, he had even more creative freedom with the Hobbit. I mean, who else can tell a studio "I want to completely restructure this project in and add a whole other movie to it" in the middle of production and have it approved? That not only requires a ballsy director to make the call, but a lot of trust on the studio's end that he can pull it off and not have the whole thing fall apart like a house of cards.

There's no real reason to make The Hobbit into three movies. They already made a Hobbit movie in 1977 - it was 77 minutes long. And it's a lovely movie. The whole Necromancer/Saruman/Radagast subplot is just there for filler and to solidify the connections with the comparatively more mature LOTR, just as Galadriel is just there because the movie needs to cast at least ONE actress, and Tauriel was made up by the same principle, and Legolas is there for fanservice, and... you get the picture.

Though I doubt Jim will see this I would have a question for him.

Is creating a world, and then creating multiple games inside that world acceptable? Like, Sword of the Stars, it created it's own universe, lore, backstory etc. First Two games, (Not including the expansions) Were 4X games, Third game, Sword of the Stars The Pit was a Roguelike set in Sword of the Stars, included lore, artwork that made it fit, the story for the game fit in with the rest of the lore.

Is that acceptable, because it is still kind of milking the fans of the series, sure it isn't the same game once it goes to the Pit. It tried new things, and they made a profit off of it as a standalone game, but would it be bad if companies started doing that. Let's say. Assassin's Creed. More games set in that universe. But instead of being an action game about stabbing templars, you are now commanding squads of Assassins or Templars in a Dawn of War 2 style. Would that make the Assassin's Creed series okay? Since it is no longer just rehashing the same game over and over?

WashAran:
Love that you included the consumer as a part of the problem.

He pretty much has to. This wouldn't be a problem if people didn't mindlessly snatch up the next FIFA or CoD or Assassin's Creed. I like these games, and I wouldn't mind wanting to play another game in their world again. But for FUCK's sake, I don't need one every year. Give me some time to appreciate and grow fond of the goddamn thing before you push the next one in my face.

It's why some series get a bigger pass than others. GTA4 had a load of problems, but it still sold over 20 million copies because people waited 4 years and longed for it again, and GTA5 will sell just as well because it's been another 4 years. This is why Rockstar can also try out other ideas and give others chances, throwing out games like Manhunt or Bully or RDD... or hell even LA Noire. They try those out because they know GTA will bring in a mountain of money, and they can experiment in between the iterations.

Assassin's Creed I'm done with, because they're pushing too many out for me to grow fond of them again, and the more they throw the same tired gameplay at me the more I see its problems and loathe them.

Couldn't agree more. I've loved, and will continue to love, my fair share of sequels too, but when companies are saying they won't even consider one-off games, and will only make a game if they can milk the tits off of it down the line, it annoys the hell out of me, for the reasons you stated in the video.

I disagree that redundancy signifies video games are not art. Hollywood is popping out sequels everyday, books come out with a whole franchise planned from the drawing board (Song of Fire & Ice or Harry Potter), almost every single musician writes multiple albums, and even some artwork is sold in sets. Therefore, if every creative medium we call art can expand their stories for both money and depth then we should not feel ashamed having many sequels.

However, I would find it nice to have characters end their story and in the same universe more characters are created with different stories with beginning and end. Look at Fall Out, Legend of Zelda, and the Dawn of War series as examples of my favorites.

First off, Jim, you kinda went a bit too far with the ending imo. Definitely something that should have stayed private. o_o

I'll admit, I'm as guilty of wanting a sequel from a game or movie as much as the studios and publishers are. When the first X-Men movie came out, my mind raced towards the idea of a sequel. But there are times when you have to stop and ask yourself if a property really needs a sequel. This applies to both the fans and to the companies. The whole "fear/greed/stupidity" mentality of Ubisoft and other companies has to stop before it leads the industry towards another video game crash.

Perhaps companies need to take a page from the Bene Gesserit and recite this in their corporate offices.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

I don't know any other quotes that would speak against greed that are as cool as one from Dune but perhaps this will help.

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. - Erich Fromm

Certain games should get sequels and certain games should not. Binary Domain is an example of one that left a semi-cliffhanger out of the ending, but was still a great enough story plot to not have a follow up.

The problem with the AAA market right now is that every other game, they decide to make a new engine ($$$), new character models ($$), hire new voice actors ($$$), conduct a symphony for the sound track ($$$), and get as many story writers as possible ($$$). But with all that, where's the game? You see the problem, right? There's no game there, it's basically the set up for a new movie that is "one-sitting and done"

I will say this: some sequels do it right. Guild Wars 2 took much of the background story, the character models, races, and the like...and then built on from there. However, it's still a completely different game with a different type of mechanics, newer style gameplay. Though many of the old game's fans [like Jim said] had demanded a sequel to be just like the first, the developers said "no" and went a completely different route. And it works. And it's good.

Here's a list of sequel spewing series that need to die:

-Call of Duty

-Battlefield

-Diablo

-Starcraft

-Assassin's Creed

-Tomb Raider

-Fallout

-Grand Theft Auto

-Total War

-Halo

-Killzone

-[insert any sports game here]

-[insert anything with "Mario" here]

-Sonic

-Crysis

-Final Fantasy

Lilani:
Normally I agree with you Jim, but I have one MAJOR problem with this episode: Back the fuck off the Hobbit. Making it a trilogy was Peter Jackson's idea, not the studio's.

Are you saying that Peter Jackson does not also enjoy money and/or keeping himself and his staff employed for another 5 years?

It's kind of sad that audiences tend to demand sequels. I keep thinking of Eric Berne's "games" (Google it) and how this sequel business is like the game "alcoholic."

Eric Berne:
The ancillary professional in all drinking games is the bartender or liquor clerk. In the game "Alcoholic" he plays the fifth role, the Connection, the direct source of supply who also understands alcoholic talk, and who in a way is the most meaningful person in the life of any addict. The difference between the Connection and the other players is the difference between professionals and amateurs in any game: the professional knows when to stop. At a certain point a good bartender refuses to serve the Alcoholic, who is then left without any supplies unless he can locate a more indulgent Connection.

My point is that the developer (and publisher) plays this Connection role and has to know when to say when for the addict. In the case of alcohol, besides laws against selling alcohol to intoxicates persons, it's a threat to the addict's health so the bartender has to know when to cut them off so that they will continue to live and continue to be a customer.

Games are not as directly toxic as alcohol, unfortunately, so the Connection does not feel as responsible if they overindulge the addict. But the effect is the same as it can sour the addict to the Connection's product and they won't continue to be their customer.

There is something to be said for leaving people wanting more. The ending to Monsters Inc was brilliant as it left people wishing they has seen Boo again at the end. They could have easily milked that for a sequel, but instead wound up making a prequel that utterly avoids that situation.

If something is good, you will always want more but getting more is not always good. A professional will know when to cut their audience off for the good of their audience and for the good of their product and their own reputation. An addict may get pissed when you cut them off, but when they sober up in the morning, they'll appreciate it and return to that bartender because they know what they're doing. It's like ordering sushi "omakase" or "I leave it up to you" where you let the chef select for you what sushi to serve. It's a mark of trust in the professional's skill to not only produce good work but in their professional pride to only give you their best. Who trusts game publishers these days?

undeadsuitor:

canadamus_prime:
This is why it irritates me every time the "What games deserve a sequel" thread pops up on this site. We have to accept part of the blame for this.

True, but I think there's a difference between "hey this game was really great I'd love to see another" and a company planning a trilogy before the first game even hits the market.

Yes, but do you recall him mentioning all those people clamouring for a Last of Us sequel? Yeah that's what I was referring to.

Personally I like sequels. If I play a game I liked i'm quite happy to hear a sequel is being made for it. It doesn't have to be a trilogy or a franchise but just a follow up of something I like.

I adored Kid Icarus and when I heard it wouldn't be likely to get a sequel anytime soon I was disappointed. I found the game of such high quality and spirit and seen it have enough following to justify a sequel. It deserved one and that's the problem I have with Ubisoft's statement. Kid Icarus, the first real system seller the 3DS had deserves a sequal, dragon age origins,a game with great public acclaim and a full world to explore further deserved a sequel(Though arguably not the one it got) but we have yet to see whether watch dogs or any other new Ubisoft IP deserves one, its to soon to tell. Make a sequel when your game is well received, if people want one. Make it a game that fixed the flaws of the first one while retaining its strength but do not plan one right away! Make a sequel after the original becomes a hit.

If their new IP fails then Ubisoft will be left with a flop and a lot of ideas for sequels not many gamers will be interested in. This can happen once but if you build your entire business around sequels you will need success or lose very, very much. I doubt Ubisoft will be able to ensure success for everything they announce, not with the competition they have.

I always figured Dragon Age II was a victim of "Must make it a franchise" disease.

Dragon Age I basically wrapped up all the loose ends that needed wrapping up and finished the story on a fairly good note, leaving Dragon Age II with nothing much to do except arse around elsewhere.

The result thus was that the sequel was seen pretty universally as being a disappointment.

Sometimes leaving it at one game is the better option.

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