These Bros Ain't Loyal - Franchise Loyalty in Gaming - Craigaleg Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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These Bros Ain't Loyal - Franchise Loyalty in Gaming

Resident Evil 6, for all intents and purposes, was not the greatest game of all time. It did not mop up many game of the year titles and received mixed reviews. Giantbomb awarded it a 2/5 and Gamespot a 4.5/10, this was combined with User Reviews on Metacritic that tore the game to shreds to bring about the consensus that this was a less than stellar addition to the Resident Evil franchise. Despite all of the word of mouth, the harsh critics, and those who despised the game entirely; it went on to become one of the top selling Capcom games of all time, just under a million shy of it's predecessor Resident Evil 5. It also boasted the highest initial shipment of a Capcom game, with 4.5 million units shipped worldwide with its release.

So why am I sitting here with a copy, replaying this game once again? I will be the first to admit it is not the strongest of the series, and there are multiple segments of the game I find infuriating. Why do I suffer through the QTE's, dimly lit rooms, and irritating menu navigation?

Simply put, it is because I love this franchise.

Franchise loyalty can be a difficult thing nowadays. It used to be you loved what you loved with little skepticism from outside sources besides immediate friends and family. Thanks to the Internet every single soul in the world has the ability to chime in and rip to shreds the things you enjoy. No better example comes to mind than a favorite sports team. You are not guaranteed a victory every game or a championship every year, but you stay beside your team through the good and the bad with the belief that one day, they will rise above all the rest once again. Am I right, Heat fans?

The same rings true for gaming. Whether it is a video game franchise or a console, I am finding there are many out there that will follow a franchise through the good and the bad.

Take the example of Resident Evil. I remember popping the original Playstation disc in on the first game and being hooked into this world. The story, the characters, the horrendous voice acting; I couldn't get enough. I played the second installment to death, eventually memorizing the exact path to get all the keys and weapons and playing through multiple times. When Resident Evil 4 hit, I was blown away; here was this franchise I have played since the beginning, deviating from the established formula and creating one of Gamecube's greatest titles of all time.

Yet the change in formula also resulted in Resident Evil 5 and 6 taking an approach that was not received well by all fans. This was no longer the horrifying, "fearful to turn corners" game that many fans became obsessed with experiencing over and over. It was now a run and gun shooter, and long time fans of the franchise were tested with their loyalty. I welcomed the new style of gameplay, and my interest in the characters and overall world of Resident Evil kept me coming back, despite the flaws this new direction brought. Others agreed, as the game, though not meeting expectations of Capcom, was still a success in sales.

"We offer a wide array of choices...like male or female"

An upcoming franchise title that has tested such loyalty is Dragon Age: Inquisition. The first game was so diverse, offering branching paths that could be completed in whatever order, multiple races and interactions with characters, and an ever evolving story where your choices carried weight. The sequel that followed lost that incredible feeling of the first, replacing diverse settings for a bland city, taking away an origin story or race choice, and completely changing the combat to favor a controller. How could the developers stray so far, and would they repeat these mistakes again?

This brings up the pinnacle of franchise loyalty; the consoles themselves. I have purchased every major Nintendo console release since I picked up a controller on the NES. When they went the direction of the Wii, the big line was drawn in the sand. Those true to Nintendo were tested, as many saw it as a console more attuned to casual players, and opted for an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 in its place. I saw it as a new way to play, and an experience I could share with family members that are not as well-versed or experienced with video games as I had become. Despite strong Wii sales, the Wii-U is not looking nearly as favorable. Maybe it is the cost, maybe it is the controller, or maybe it is the lack of third party titles; but the lack of sales compared to the Wii shows that loyalty has its limits.

Whatever way you look at it, developers on big name titles and consoles always have such a pressure on them. If they create a sequel or installment in a franchise that is bad have they tarnished a title's reputation forever? If your favorite franchise suddenly jumps the shark  and is riddled with negative reviews, have you sworn it off for good? I will always enjoy playing my favorite franchises like Resident Evil, Assassin's Creed, and Halo as long as they continue to deliver the professional quality and care I would come to expect from the developer. We all make mistakes along the way, and I find it hard to write off a series for one or two bad entries. In the end, I will still care about it enough to fail and reload a death screen to get a QTE right this time...you monster.

"It's all in the timing Helena, that's how you open doors."

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