Wednesday, 15 September 2010
The launch of Halo: Reach marks the fourth installment in the critically and publicly acclaimed franchise. The prequel has been anticipated for months, as gamers can pick up new weapons and square off in battle for the next few years.
But I’m not here to hit you with a review or give you my thoughts on the latest chapter (or first chapter, technically) in the Halo series. Instead, I want to address a larger issue:
When should developers end a franchise? When does a game series reach the saturation point?
The obvious motivation for any company to continue to pump out installments of a video a game franchise is to make money. Gamers like me will continue to shell out 60 bucks for the new game even after we’ve exhausted the previous one for 20+ months.
But at what point do the game creators pass the point of “giving us what we want” and cross the line to “saturating the market and inundating us with too many iterations of one game”?
Think about it. For those of us who love Halo, another game is like giving candy to a little kid; we’ll eat it up no matter how much we’ve already had. But do we really need another Halo?
Halo: Reach is essentially the same as its predecessors. Sure, there will be new weapons, multiplayer maps and single player storyline. But does it justify another full price game? New maps and guns could just be put into patches for Halo 3. Again, it comes down to money. Instead of giving gamers free patches or charge them $10 for a multiplayer map pack, the developers force us to pay $60 for a whole new game.
Was Halo 3: ODST really worth full price to get a few extra maps and a storyline that filled in a few plot details here and there? Probably not. That’s not to say it was a subpar game, but it didn’t have to exist. At a certain point, quality suffers for the sake of quantity. The Guitar Hero/Rock Band franchises, for example, have gotten to the point of beating a dead horse.
I’m not trying to pick on expansions or subtitled games, either. Okay, if this were Halo 4, I may not be writing this post. But the only true addition to the Halo franchise for that game would be a continuation of the main storyline (which I love, for the record). After a while, though, it becomes too much, and the developers should just walk away on a high note. Trilogies work because they have an intrinsic narrative arc and, if done properly, encapsulate the entire story while still giving gamers an increasingly rich multiplayer experience.
But developers will never end it sooner rather than later. Not when there’s more money to be made.
Do you think game franchises run on too long nowadays?