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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

2005 Prediction #1 - Fewer sequels, more franchises

In reading all of these interviews with gaming types saying that costs are rising, the market is getting more particular, the little guy is subsiding, etc., etc. - there was one trend in 2004 that rings out - sequels breed disappointment.

Specifically, sequels to gaming classics that took a while to arrive and now come with new graphic engines and major gameplay decisions. Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Theif 3 - all of them fell prey to this. My guess is that gaming studios are going to get tired of feeling sting and what we're going to see more of is simple franchise evolution. Like the difference between UT2003 and UT2004 or say, the Splinter Cell series. I'm certianly playing semantics here, but it makes sense that if a company is going to invest a lot of resources into new technology - they might not risk that on one of their precious brand names.

Imagine if Ion Storm had released something called "Cyberpunk Soldier" instead of Deus Ex 2. Nobody would have been expecting the genre-bending depth of the original and they could have escaped much of their post-demo bad press about the game. True sequels are big bullets. If you miss, you just cost yourself a lot of cash.

I'm sure there is a Halo 3 in our future. I doubt Doom 4 is coming around the bend. Quake 4 is - but only with a lessonbook based on what happened to Doom 3. Epic will be continue to follow the Madden formula until Unreal Engine 3 is ready for travel - but even then I'm guessing they'll make a game which isn't a UT one (perhaps still in the very loosely defined Unreal universe however).

Classics might start remain just that.

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