Why should you care about sequels?
Sequels have been around for a long time. If you really think about it, many of the popular titles of today are sequels. Nintendo is one of the companies notorious for this. They have titles like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, almost coming out on a regular basis — by regular, I mean forever.
Jokes aside, sequels have been a topic of discussion in recent years. Perhaps it's because we get annual sequels like Call of Duty, or sequels that have short development cycles like Dragon Age 2. This isn't to say that we want sequels to come out so far apart that we get cranky about it — I'm looking at you The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. We talk about sequels because many of us care about the titles that are made into franchises. However, for those that really don't care for sequels, why should you care?
David Adams, studio manager of Vigil Studios, noted that games are a “sequel-based medium.” Why is that so? One of the reasons is for guaranteed success. If the first game does great or relatively well, it would be a waste not to invest on that franchise. Remember that making video games is a business. The most profitable way for a game to make money without spending too much on it is to capitalize on something already successful. If the assets for making a game are already there, creating a sequel would take less time and effort than making a new IP. It just makes sense to do it this way.
Gamers have it good then, because publishers want to save money by creating sequels. Both sides win! Ironically, sequels drive the industry. It's because we have established franchises that the industry can thrive. How many new intellectual properties break a million copies? Almost none. It's the long running series that ends up selling a lot of copies. Mass Effect 3 is a great example of this. The trilogy's finale broke over a million copies. The first Mass Effect could never have done this. It's because the franchise has gained momentum, publicity, and the reputation over the years that pushed Mass Effect 3 to sell as much as it did.
The games that sell well are sequels, and as a result, most of the profit comes from sequels. Games like Skyrim, Halo, Uncharted, and Call of Duty are only a few of the examples where profits are extremely high due to it being a sequel. As the franchise gets larger, it picks up new fans and players. Gamers get more sequels, and publishers are happy to collect the money that gamers are willing to spend on these sequels. It's a happy cycle that keeps the industry going.