Many great video game franchises have failed miserably at some point in their releases, with the developers and producers scratching their heads, trying to figure out what went wrong but they hardly even consider that it can be due to video games losing their identity.
It requires brilliant art direction, months of work, and flawless teamwork to create such pieces of art; game development is one of a kind collaboration that deserves recognition and appreciation in itself, regardless of how the end product turns out to be. Creating a timeless classic is a difficult task, but creating a sequel to a video game that isn’t just as good but better is a hell of a job altogether.
Creators need to find a perfect balance between familiarity and novelty. Technically speaking, a sequel to a video game needs to be better, but at the same time, it should retain the core mechanics of the original game, the very essence that made the game what it was. The newer release will be more polished and will be, as it should be, closer to the ideal version of the game. This also means that the veteran players will find the newer games much easier to play as the core style of the gameplay is retained.
The art direction, stylized storytelling, and gameplay together create a unique fingerprint, an experience which is genre-defining (or defying even) at times. It is what gives a video game its identity and personality.
Many creators keep on experimenting with, say, the way in which the story is unfolded or the rate at which the open world is revealed to the player. The game engine gets revamped once every two or three years as well, especially during a next-gen console release.
The innovation and experimentation, an integral part of any creative process, can easily go sideways as it can hurt and ruin a franchise and drive many fans away as it can radically change the gaming experience to their liking.
The issue prevails in the industry today for various reasons that are easy to pinpoint but hard to solve and deserves a different discussion altogether. Identity crisis in video games might not seem like a great deal to many but the long term impact on sales and reputation speaks otherwise needing much more attention going forward.
Creators need to understand going back to the roots or rather sticking to it isn’t a bad idea, as it retains the heart and soul of a video game franchise and shouldn’t be shied away from.
Come back next week to discuss this issue in its core with a game that is loved but seems to have lost its original essence. Can you guess the game we will be talking about in regards to games losing their identity?