Convergence of Franchises

The complaining about a lack of new franchises can be heard especially when it comes to Nintendo´s Wii-system. But no matter what system manufacturer, I´m thinking of the opposite. It cannot be that I´m the only person that has ever thought, right after finishing a great game, or movie, or book, or whatever: “Man, what a pitty that it´s over already”.  From the old days to this very moment, that was and is an unfortunate, but inevitable fact. But here I ask: Why not make this bad feeling stop from happening?

Video games are trying to counter this effect already by doing two things. First, there´s a big focus on multiplayer across all games and all genres. There´s even people that complain about developers tacking on multiplayer to each and every game. Second, there is Download Content. The first one obviously is a very specific kind of prolonging a game´s life, as multiplayer does neither enrich a game´s story nor offer the same gameplay-experience. While the second one would be the ideal way to prolong a game, its actual implementation just doesn´t work. Remember when Valve announced the Half Life 2-episodes to be released with only little time in between? Or Bioware and their Mass Effect-DLC, which we got two, so far. Even larger DLC-expansions are released to rarely to make an older game stay “alive” for longer. It´s a short afterglow and that´s it then. So what is the solution to keeping a game experience you came to like active?

The convergence of franchises is. Right now, we have dozens, if not hundreds of all different franchises. Each one is telling its own story within its own universe and its own rules. There is one advantage to that concept: Every game is guaranteed to find something he likes. But the downside is obvious: Those games that grew to love one franchises are in for disappointment, as even IF there´s going to be a sequel it´ll take two to three years minimum until you can play it. And even then that´s maybe two weeks of more content until it´s over again. Therefore, a convergence, a reduction of active franchises, could be one way to enrich a game´s world.

To give a few examples: The Mass Effect-universe is great. The first game really fleshed out the game-world. It was a nice WRPG, but it was over way too soon. But why wait for Mass Effect 2, when you could simply play a Mass Effect-fps in the meantime. Why does Halo need its own franchise, when it´s a Call of Duty in space, anyway? So, tack the Mass Effect-franchise onto the Halo-gameplay, and there you have it: A game that enriches the Mass Effect-universe, yet is still the great, accessible shooter so many Xbox360-fans love. Or, take Dead Rising. Instead of parodying the movie Dawn of the Dead, why not actually using the movie-universe and letting the player experience more of that great movie?

The one company that excels at this kind of concept is Nintendo. Unfortunately, the Mario-universe doesn´t feature any detailed story-pieces or all important settings, so while we have hundreds of Mario-games with a different gameplay-approach, each and every Mario-game could exist without any other Mario-titles. Still, you have a Mario-platformer, a Mario-RPG, a Mario-racing game, a party-game, a tennis-game, a puzzle-game, and so on. Imagine this kind of concept used with a franchise that actually offers explicit and important story-information, and you´d be able to experience one great franchise´s universe for a long time, from many different angles.

There´s bound to be many people that don´t like the thought of less franchises, but instead of having to restart all the time, I´d love to see a franchise stay there. And there´s so many franchises that are not needed for presenting the offered gameplay. Uncharted 2 could just as well play within the Tomb Raider-universe. Killzone 2 could be part of the Half Life-universe. And Assasin´s Creed could have just connected to the Matrix-franchise. Flesh out existing franchises instead of starting all over again and again. It´d make the wait for sequels so much less tiring while even enriching you loved old franchise.

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