Too Many Sequels: Are They Killing Gaming?

Too Many Sequels: Are They Killing Gaming?

Are too many sequels killing the video game business? It’s a salient question to ask, considering that virtually every new major gaming release this holiday season is a sequel, spin-off or series remake. Rather than simply dismiss the issue and say that there’s no merit to improving upon blockbuster games franchises (hey, if it’s not broke…), we present a thorough taxonomy of the debate in recent CNN article Are Too Many Sequels Killing Video Gaming?

Obviously, there’s less risk for publishers to invest in familiar franchises, and with money still tight for millions, countless fans naturally prefer to stick with known brands (especially those that have had years to perfect their gameplay formula). Still, one can’t help but wonder if a decreased emphasis on innovative new titles and gameplay experimentation is helplessly stunting creativity. (A fact only exacerbated by the rise of games for social networks, which tend to place the need for repeated clicks above actual play quality.) The big question: Where do you sit on the issue? Write in below and give us your two cents.

About Scott Steinberg
Scott Steinberg is CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global, and a noted keynote speaker and business expert. Hailed as a top tech expert and parenting guru by critics from USA Today to NPR, he’s also an on-air analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN.


  1. I don’t see it killing gaming. In fact, the sales figures that exist today are probably based on people returning to a product line in which they trust. I don’t have the figures, so I have to ask the question: How many brand new IP leap to the top of the sales charts versus sequels/spin-offs/related names?

    What sequelitis does kill is the idea of an art motive in game creation. Remember how people were bashing Roger Ebert for saying that games weren’t art? No one brought up No More Heroes 2, Halo 2/3/Reach, Street Fighter II “insert favorite edition here” or anything like that because the object of those games were clear: profit. Clearly, that’s the goal of most every game in the industry, but those wear the goal on their sleeves. Like you said, the interest is not in innovation. It is not in creating a totally new idea. If that happens to someday come back and bite the gaming industry on its rear, then it is well deserved.

  2. Gospel X, just because something is popular and makes money, doesn’t make it a quality product– or really any good for that matter. “Jackass 3-D” was the #1 movie this past weekend (its opening weekend). Doesn’t make it necessarily a “good movie”.

    Sequelitis is bad. Even though it has given us fantastic gems like “Mass Effect 2”, there’s always five “Final Fantasy X-2’s” to be counter-productive to that point.

    That’s also not lumping in the cloning issue, which is, in essence the same thing. I consider myself extremely nuanced in video game news and information, but I was shown a picture recently comparing screens of multi-player modes of Modern Warfare 2, (new) Medal of Honor, and a third game (either Killzone or Resistance). I guessed wrong at which was which. This is a problem.

    If this shrinks the industry, so be it. Its not uncommon for something to swell up, quality drops, has to shrink and reorganize, and comes out with quality products and services again. I’d like to see that happen.

  3. I think there’s 2 cases and in one of them they’re killing the franchise. But it takes a long time to ruin a franchise, even more to make it unprofitable.

    Case 1. The developer is in charge, skilled and knows what they’re doing. They’re building a sequel but they leave room for innovation and new creative features. It’s the old formula proven to work but improved. Bungie’s Halo, Valve’s Half-Life, Bioware’s Mass Effect, even assasin’s creed as pictured above takes pride in adding new moves and challanging the game with each sequel.

    Case 1. The Publisher is in charge, and on a schedule. They one a sequel for every major game buying time (xmas, summer, year, and what not). They have multiple studios work on the same franchise to increase the rhythm of sequel release and could care less about innovation. They see a brand name they can use taking little risk (at this point even innovation might be risk). The franchise goes stale, first the hard core gamers leave, then the fans get pissed, but there’s still that massive amount of casual gamers who will still buy the game, good or not. Examples? Medal of Honor, Call of Duty (not MW 1&2 but look at World at War… yea), Modern Warfare (since they booted everyone), Tomb Raider (still can walk and turn huh?), and there’s more.

    In case 2 I’ll just stop getting these games, but I know from talking to friends that most people either don’t care that much or don’t know that much and they still buy.

    That’s my 2 cent + a peny

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