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Gaming is filled with huge, ground breaking, exciting, and fun franchises. Each year, many new and wonderful games are pumped into the market. But, many of these incredible titles get washed away by the major league contenders. But, this is not a blog dedicated to those little gems, this is a blog contemplating those huge juggernauts that seem to be harder to take down then the Borgia family. Today, we'll be looking at three franchise in particular.
Different faces, same insidious goals. Domination.
Let me make this clear. This is not a some hate. I enjoy the franchises I use as examples here.
Let's start with an obvious one: The Call of Duty franchise. Though recent legal trouble made a war zone of our big friend here, Call of Duty remains on top of the shooter market. Why? Because Call of Duty does set pieces, settings, and giving that feeling of "I'm awesome" just right. But, at what point does the formula start to drag? For the bast few years, Call of Duty has been rehashed, given graphical updates, and has focused on a more online pursuit, but remains the same experience for the most part. But if it's so similar each release, why the huge sales numbers? Call of Duty has become to big to fail. I credit Call of Duty for getting me into shooters, but honestly, I feel burned out on the series, and will not be purchasing Modern Warfare 3 anytime soon (To be honest, I haven't played any of the Modern Warfare games, except a brief experience with Modern Warfare 2, which felt incredibly similar to earlier entries.). Even though I won't be purchasing it, I know many who will be and who already have. At my high school, scarcely a day goes by without me seeing a shirt emblazoned with "MW3". A few students even skipped school for the midnight release, and others talked about it to the extent that even our cranky old substitute teacher knew about it in great detail. This is insane. Honestly, at what point does an interest become an obsession? I think for many gamers, there call of Duty interest has progressed exactly into that, an obsession. Fast forward a year, and they'll be pushing next year's Call of Duty to new heights in terms of sales. I till, also, but that's because I feel a one year break from the series is good for me. Next year's release aside, Call of Duty is like an inflated bouncy house, hard to resist, fun to jump in, but dangerous with high winds and sharp objects. The question is: What is the shard object to Call of Duty's bouncy house?
Our favorite portly, red-clothed plumber!
Let's observe Mario next. Each year, many pieces of merchandise are released with his face attached, not all of them games. T-Shirts, coffee mugs, toys, and more feature this mustachioed man, and we devour it like ambrosia. But why? Because he's Mario, that's why. Even putting this fabled figure's face or name on a game means it will ship plenty of units. His history starts with him starring in the role of "Jumpman" in Donkey Kong and he progressed from there. His games have sold over 210 million units, making the "Mario" series the most successful game series of all time. There is no figure for the uncountable cash he's made from all his other media ventures, but the figure would be staggering. I think we've all contributed to this at one point or another; I know I have. I myself own canteen displaying Super Mario Land 2 on one side, and Link's Adventure on the other. If you think hard enough I'm sure you can think of your financial outings on this plumber, too.
You evil mastermind!
Pokemon. A true behemoth. Since the Nineties, many people have been snared in the trap that is Pokemon. Myself included. Pokemon games fall among my favorite games of all time. No, sratch that, franchises of all time. I've watched the anime, read the comics, bought the cards, collected the figurines, and dutifully played spin-offs and main entries. And I'm not the only one. What started with 151 little critters, has grown into a massive army of 649. Today's youth has an obsession with it, as well as many older gamers who have taken the process of battling, breeding, training, and catching these creatures and turned it into an art and science, delving into the systems that lay underneath the simple cover of a children's game, and now know the numbers behind many of the equations underneath the hood and use them to turn their teams into a whirlwind of punishment for any opponent. But why? GameFreak's little brainchild is a world wide phenomenon that is a huge success. Any spin-off heads to financial success, if lacking in positive review scores. A Pokemon title means success, for almost anything. Who knows what would happen if they released a main entry in Pokemon on the 3D? My prediction is 3DS sales numbers would soar. I don't think that idea is too Farfetch'd (Bad pun.). I know that I would be weakened into buying a 3DS myself as would many gamers. This desire found amongst myself and others is testament to Pokemon's power in the industry, and among popular culture itself.
And to end, a testament to Nintedo, the publisher and developer juggernaut that has strayed a little bit over the years. I still love you Nintendo. Also, to games in general. But mostly Nintendo. (BEWARE: The following video is full of jokes and requires actual reading.)
Since I have some Italian in my ancestry, it's pretty awesome to have someone like Mario as a mascot. I don't really think I've ever been disappointed by a Mario title, and the wii releases - especially the Mario Galaxy iterations- are definitely among the games that truly utilize the creativity that the wii was projected to offer to the gaming experience.
Pokemon's definitely an amazing franchise, and I think, with its latest releases, it's great to finally see the games get a bit more rpg depth to them, although the Pokemon are now starting to look pretty ridiculous. I used to read the manga for a while, but then caught on to the anime when it first aired; still can sing the title song from memory. I stopped watching shortly after they got into the Sinnoh arc.
CoD actually brought me back into gaming. It was the reason I bought a PS3, and now, I feel cheated. The game is literally re-hashed over and over and over and the freshman at my school love it. Funny, my theology teacher is a HUGE Bethesda fan. He was making fun of this one CoD kid and telling him how real men play Oblivion
How did MW2 feel familiar if he didn't play the first modern warfare?
Good read, but I'm surprised you didn't mention sports games. The demo for this year's Madden proved to me that I didn't need to buy it new for the first time since Madden 2005. I'll probably get it eventually just to run a couple seasons in franchise mode with my favorite team's updated roster, but it will have to be cheap.
Despite my outlook on this, there are millions (in The Rock's voice: AND MILLIONS!) of people who buy this every year because of the online component (similar to Call of Duty) - while I haven't played a game of Madden online since Madden 07 or 08. I simply like to play franchise mode and win the Superbowl every year (while also going undefeated), and since I could care less about the online servers getting shut off because of this - all the other millions are forced to buy the newest game to keep playing online, which is somewhat similar to your obsession point.