Pixel Count: Franchise Sabbaticals

Video game timelines are funny things. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the annual release titles — the familiars of our hobby, such as Call of Duty, Madden, Assassin’s Creed, Mario and the like — and on the other side of the spectrum you have the folks that release games when they’re good and ready — the Valves and Square Enixes of the world. Today’s post concerns the first group.

With the recent quality dip of franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, the underwhelming “next gen” (but still the same old) gameplay of Call of Duty: Ghosts and the staleness of other titles like Mario or Madden, it seems like there are quite a few annual releases in need of a good old fashioned sabbatical. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike these franchises. Far from it. I just think that perhaps an extended break might give developers a chance to come back to the table with fresh eyes and maybe a few gameplay or art tweaks that might reinvigorate things again.

Take Madden, for instance. I’m a dude that loves watching just about any random NFL game I can find on TV, but you almost couldn’t pay me to play a Madden game. Here’s the game of football — a rough-hitting, edge-of-your-seat, strategy-on-the-fly sport played by athletic gods — and EA manages to make a game that feels boring. Contrast that with something as historic as Mario or Zelda, two imaginative franchises that don’t quite excite the way they used to (unless they go retro or reboot one of the older, better games in some way), and it starts to feel like maybe it’s time for these guys to rest just a little while.

So without further ado, here’s today’s Pixel Count. Get your votes on and tell us what you think in the comments! It doesn’t even have to be a yearly release — just a franchise that you think might benefit with some rethinking.

Which franchise needs to take a sabbatical?

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

9 thoughts on “Pixel Count: Franchise Sabbaticals”

  1. i feel like legend of zelda does not need to be on there. release to release unless its a hd remake (in what is good) they change it up enough where its not repetive unlike say cod where its, new maps some more guns. DONE!

  2. Honestly I would vote for CoD, Madden AND Assassin’s Creed if I could. But Madden has been the longest running disappointment, so it get’s my vote for now. Honestly I don’t think there has been a good Madden on this generation. The final one on PS2 still has more and better features than Madden ’13.

  3. As sad as it makes me to say it, I’m voting for Assassin’s Creed. I feel that the series had great momentum until 3, which just killed my passion for the franchise. I’ll probably still try Black Flag, but it’s kind of like poking a corpse with a stick now. Or a peg leg. Because pirates.

    @killklli I’d say that LoZ needs to be on there, at least until they stop rehashing Ocarina of Time every game.

  4. Its too easy to say AC, COD, Madden, and other yearly release games which is why im the only one that picked Mario. The galaxy series (i.e the main series) of Mario can stay since it releases every few years, but the constant bombardment of 2D side-scroller rehashes, kart racing, parties, and other sports really does nothing for me. They are of course fun games to pick up, but I don’t get excited at a new Mario announcement anymore if i know that another is around the corner. Take him away completely for 3 years and then drop the bombshell that is Super Mario 64-2.

    I’m gonna kick myself for saying this, but Kingdom Hearts. I love the series and have every single one, but the story now spans 7 games, 2 on consoles and 5 on differing handhelds, with HD remixes coming out this and probably next year. Gametrailers recently did a timeline video of the KH plot and it took them roughly an hour to explain the entire story leading into the third game. Less yearly handheld games, remixes, and final mixes, and finally release KH3.

  5. CoD is the obvious choice, but frankly the franchise will never gain my interest again so I’d like it to keep going until it gets run into the ground. Sonic needs to go ahead and die already and although I love football, I’ll never consider playing a sports game. LoZ is off my radar due to a lack of a Nintendo console. Assassin’s Creed, however, still has the potential to grab me. I haven’t played one since AC2, however I’ve grown tired of the franchise simply because it seems like promotional material is constantly going year round for the franchise. The convoluted plot and hearing you guys talk about the franchise’s shortcomings doesn’t help. I enjoyed AC2 a lot, so if they could give me an AC title of similiar quality I would be sold.

  6. Madden. CoD still innovates in small ways and tries to change things up.

    Madden routinely drops beloved features and takes giant steps backwards instead of small ones forward.

  7. Imma say Zelda. The games are primarily still fun, but I do think that Mitch is correct: The games are sticking TOO much to the OoT formula. I have no clue what they could do to change the games, but with the length of development the games are given, they have no excuse. They should be able to figure something out in that sort of a time frame.

    Anthony, I agree that CoD “innovates in small ways”, but I think that’s the problem; the changes are just too incremental. There just isn’t enough incentive to go back and experience a new grenade type or a change-up in Create-a-class (no matter how awesome Pick 10 is). Out of curiosity, are you still playing CoD?

  8. @Petyr,

    Yeah, but at least they are trying without upsetting their core fanbase. It’s something.

    No, I have not played Black ops II at all, but lately…I have a craving.

  9. Haha, fair enough. I suppose too much change wouldn’t go down well with everyone.
    I’ve played it a bit, I wasn’t overly impressed with the map design. I think Treyarch still struggle with that aspect of the multiplayer. There are some that are interesting (some of the maps have a unique gameplay hook), but some of them are just bland, poorly balanced maps. Still, I’m sure it will scratch your itch. Dat sound… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8OY36gtUhc

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