By Aaron Ynclan, Staff Writer
Why do you play games? Do you play for the characters, for the genre, or perhaps just for the thrill? It’s a simple question, but it could have a lengthy answer. I’ve always played games because of the thrill I get from exploring vast new worlds and fighting hordes of monstrous mutants, but what keeps me playing a game is the story. It doesn’t matter if the story is an emotionally gripping tale like The Walking Dead or is just tacked on to move you from Ridiculous Setpiece Moment A to Ridiculous Setpiece Moment B (looking at you Call of Duty). My greatest rush comes from finishing a game; from finding out how events unfolded, from learning if the main protagonist lived or died, from just being able to say “I know how it ends.” All stories end, and the same can be said for games.
Let’s face it; some franchises are never leaving us. Activision will continue making Call of Duty until the day it doesn’t make them a billion dollars, Ubisoft recently announced that they’ll make Assassin’s Creed until fans say stop (as in, fans stop buying it), and practically the entire Nintendo roster will always be around in some form or fashion. Even long-standing franchises like Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, and The Elder Scrolls (all of which have reached at least their fifth iteration) are so ingrained in the gaming industry that it’s almost impossible to imagine these franchises ending. But recent releases like Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension have begging me to ask; when should a franchise end?
Gears of War and God of War are very similar series; both have had three numbered installments, they are two of the biggest exclusive franchises for the Xbox and Playstation, respectively, both have three-word titles with ‘War’ in them, and now they both share a prequel. God of War: Ascension offers you a look into the past of its protagonist, Kratos, while Gears of War: Judgment details how the war with the Locust in the Gears trilogy began. While I haven’t played either of these installments and can therefore not give an opinion regarding their quality, as a fan of the franchises I found myself questioning the purpose of these games. Are these games that actually add something to the lore of the series, or are they stories that gamers didn’t really need to be told? Again, I can’t make any comment on whether these installments are worthwhile additions or not, but I still couldn’t help but ask myself, “why?”
Games are evolving. In my previous article, I made mention how games don’t necessarily need phenomenal stories to be enjoyable or sell well, but with long-standing franchises, steps have to be taken to keep a franchise relative. For franchises like Grand Theft Auto or The Elder Scrolls, methods that developers Rockstar And Bethesda tend to employ include changing the setting and lead character. Doing this retains the franchise name and mechanics while still presenting something new for gamers to become familiar with. For games like Halo, however, this presents a problem as series such as these revolve around a singular protagonist who has become synonymous with the series. If they were to swap out Nathan Drake, would it still be Uncharted? Maybe it would be. Maybe I’m wrong, and all these franchises I’ve talked about can stay fresh and continue on until they’re as old as Mario. But I doubt.
Games are meant to be enjoyed, and I suppose as long as you enjoy it shouldn’t matter if the game is AC 3 or AC 10. But while there are some franchises that still have dozens of stories to tell, others don’t. And while some franchises will continue on, there are some I think shouldn’t.