You know how it is, you’re a multi-billion dollar company sitting on top of your huge pile of money with a plethora of games and world class developers in your portfolio. One of your games, your big hitter, in fact the next title in the biggest gaming series ever. Sounds perfect right? Of course there some detractors who are saying that your series may have peaked with its last outing, but what do they really know?
So insanely cleverly disguised hypothetical example aside, the serious question here is when you’ve got a yearly series that’s had a pretty good run so far how do you carry on? How do you keep the series going when you’ve got a pretty well established concept for your series?
Now I’ll be the first to admit that developers are hugely imaginative. Just when you think you’ve seen it all you get a title like flOw or Mirrors Edge that gives you something incredible, something new that you wouldn’t have really thought of before. No, the problem doesn’t lie in creating new concepts or ideas, the problem comes in continuing old ideas.
I could pick on Black Ops, given the troubles that Activision have had this year with Infinity Ward it’d be easy to conclude that the series might be in some trouble. However looking at the expectation and previews for the newest entry in the Call of Duty franchise it seems that things haven’t peaked just yet. No it’s much easier to look at a series that did peak and then sort of fell apart, like Tomb Raider.
I mean remember how awesome Tomb Raider used to be. It was incredible. In fact Tomb Raider 2 is still one of my favourite titles, just for how great the whole thing felt. However, the series ran out of steam. Whilst the latest ‘not really Tomb Raider’ game featuring Lara Croft does actually seem to be pretty entertaining, the main series has pretty much fallen to pieces at this point. What happened to it?
Some would probably claim that the story failed, and they’d be right. However, more than that they basically ran out of ideas. That’s why Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light felt so good, it was new and fresh. In fact if they’d incorporated some of the basic concepts into a game in the main Tomb Raider series it would still have been great, because it would have added something interesting to the game and introduced a wealth of new possibilities. Sadly, it seems that the grappling hook is about as adventurous as the series is going to get, and it will only suffer for it.
Enough of me, time for you lot. Do a lot of game series seem to fizzle out? Do you think it’s easier to slip into a decline when you’re at the top of your game, or does it happen slowly to every series? Are there any series that clearly seem to be on a downward slope now?