However, giving birth to many sequels can be a bad thing. It's great that companies are capitalizing on these successful titles. Unfortunately, for an entertainment medium that has the potential to be creative and prove itself, we're limited to sequels year after year. Nominees for Game of the Years tend to be sequels. Last year we had Skyward Sword, Uncharted 3, and Batman: Arkham City make this list for many sites. It's quite telling when you have the best GOTY nominees mostly come from sequels. Granted, sequels improve on many of the faults of the original, and the polish that comes with it makes for a great game of the year candidate. Unfortunately, the number of sequels compared to new IPs that make this category are few in number, which shows the limited amount of new creative content.
Still, while overflooding the market with sequels is bad, this doesn't mean that they are inherently bad. “It'd be criminal to not make some sort of sequel,” Adams said. “You do all the hard work and you don't get to do everything you wanted in the first one.” Often times, the first game seems like a foundation. The developers build the game from ground up and lay the base for where they want the game to go. Sadly, the developers don't have the opportunity to build beyond the foundation. What they end up getting is a game where not all the ideas are expanded upon and their vision is left unfulfilled. By having a sequel, the developers have the opportunity to do stuff they couldn't do previously and create a more refined game.
Sequels are great for more of the same good stuff. After all, if it isn't broken, why change it? People usually want the same good thing. If I go to a steakhouse and I love their rib-eye, why would I want to get a different type of steak? There's no reason for me to change my dish. Of course, if a friend forcefully orders me a prime rib and I realize that this steak is just as good, that's awesome. Gamers need to expand their horizons and should try to move away from more of the same. I'm not saying it's the gamers' fault that we have sequels. I'm also not saying sequels should be up and rid of. Rather, I'm saying that gamers shouldn't often promote sequels. We constantly cry out for more great games. I have heard so many people wanting a BioShock sequel after the game's release. People want more of what's good.
What's the point of all of these perspectives? Gamers should be informed of the products they purchase. After all, by spending money on sequels, you are, in a way, promoting the company's activity to create more sequels. This isn't to say that you shouldn't buy sequels. Rather, inform yourself and become more knowledgeable about the community you're in. If you're more informed, you're likely to make an informed purchase. It's just common sense. Try to understand how sequels are made and why they're made. After all, the point of me telling you all this is so I can get your head thinking about sequels. I only scratched the surface, the rest is up for you to decide. Formulate your own stance on sequels after you've done more research.
What's my take in all of this? Moderation. Sequels are great; in fact, they are a blessing. I can't count how many times where I've been grateful for a sequel. Devil May Cry 3 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory are two examples. These games were the height of the franchise at the time, taking everything good about the series and encapsulates it into the pinnacle of its genre. However, sequels that repeatedly come out create over-saturation resulting in a dulled experience. Here's looking at you Call of Duty. It creates a feeling of series fatigue and stagnation. To me, video game sequels are great but only in bits at a time, whether that be the number of installments or how often they come out.
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.