Gaming Franchises: Perhaps The Best Idea Yet

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Gaming Franchises: Perhaps The Best Idea Yet

It's a strange idea to be pulling for the franchise, isn't it? A strange idea indeed to consider the franchise, that stable of familiarity, that morass of innovation, that death of all that is alive and vibrant in gaming to be a smart idea. But there are some very good reasons afoot, and these are evidenced by some interesting common threads in terms of the use of the franchise concept.

There were two pieces of news that I spotted today that coalesced into the concept of the gaming franchise as being, basically, the future of gaming. One was a comparatively minor piece about an upcoming title from 3D Realms, the guys who made Duke Nukem. Specifically, this title was called “Bombshell”, and it followed a mercenary with a cybernetic arm by the name of Shelly Harrison, who went by the handle of “Bombshell.” Her cybernetic arm, meanwhile, turns into a series of different weapons. 3D Realms, meanwhile, noted that the company expects this to be the start of a franchise with some long-term potential.

This by itself wouldn't mean much—3D Realms hasn't exactly been long on a lot of people's list of relevance for some time now—but it was followed up by news that Ubisoft sold 11 million copies of “Assassin's Creed IV,” and also saw great sales from the “Just Dance” series. With these two points in mind, it wasn't a surprise that Ubisoft planned to release franchises “more regularly.” Though Ubisoft also had a loss for fiscal year 2014, and reportedly had to push back “The Division” to 2015, it's still not too bad overall.

Some are rolling their eyes at the thought of it, but it actually makes some sense. It's actually a parallel to what was commonly done in the movie industry; studios would often bring out smaller, simpler titles to fund the major blockbuster titles, or bring out the slew of summer blockbusters so as to have cash on hand for that crazy experimental thing or the like. First and foremost, video games are a business. Studios need to have cash flow coming in so that development can be supported on things that may not make money right away, if ever. So franchise titles basically become the bread-and-butter operations that studios need in order to finance the more out-there stuff.

We want innovation; sure we do. The franchises of tomorrow start with the crazy stuff of today. But not every bit of crazy pans out, so we need something to keep the studios aloft while the crazy stuff gets developed. That's where the franchise can play a large part in regular operations; this is where the money comes from. So for studios to adopt the idea that the franchises keep the studio going and the crazy stuff looks for tomorrow's franchises, that should ultimately mean that they should be able to keep operations going and keep bringing us great games.

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