Naughty Dog parting ways with Uncharted after launching A Thief’s End is a great lesson for us people who try and make a living with video games, both journalists and game developers. First, it teaches us that nothing lasts forever, differently from what established IP owners have strived for years to tell gamers. Halo should come to an end one day or another, Assassin’s Creed should too, and so on: there are a lot of games which would deserve to end like they started, beloved, nostalgically remembered, and not hated as a symbol of capitalism applied to our passions.
Second, it tells us one more time that video games are mostly a work of art, and just like any other work of art are subject to inspiration. If you don’t have inspiration, you can’t make any work of art, and there is no deadline or bank account that can let you become more inspired all of a sudden. There is no legacy, no franchise, no intellectual property that can survive to this although changing developers and people involved in the projects can actually bring some fresh air to them.
The secret is just to understand when you need to unplug, but most of the people involved in video games don’t have much expertise in that. Naughty Dog does: here’s some series which would benefit from a similar approach.
Metal Gear Solid
I was one of those who thought The Phantom Pain was completely useless in terms of carrying the story on. After playing it, of course, I fell in love all over again with the series, the insane lore, and its creator Hideo Kojima – and now that he parted ways with I look forward to hearing about him and what he’s cooking with the beloved mech designer Shinkawa.
Let’s be honest: there are a lot of stories that could be told in the very same Metal Gear Solid V universe, just to extend upon the points left unspoken or unexplained due to technical or artistical reasons. And I would love to hear and play them. But are we sure it would really be something up to people’s sky high expectations? I don’t know, I can’t tell that for sure. If we should only take art into account, it could be helpful to take another development studio and put it to work on another IP set in the same Metal Gear universe (apart from the Solid one), just like it happened with Rising.
Oh, man. Once upon a time, the nightmare was the story you had unwittingly to live in a world on fire because of Umbrella Corporation and zombies. Now, I don’t really have a clue about what Resident Evil is all about – it’s a true nightmare, not meaning the story and the setting, but just how you have to play it… it is not a good survival horror (it is not a survival horror at all), it is not a good action game, it is not a good shooter. Capcom, what the heck are you doing here?
Resident Evil 6 was a huge mess, in the effort to make the series the new, zombie based Call of Duty or however to make the IP finally as profitable as it could be. The movies didn’t help. RE5 was good enough even though a dip low after Resident Evil 4, the first sign of a declining intellectual property or something that should have been handled much better than it was. I mean, it was a sign Capcom completely misunderstood, thinking people just wanted a faster Resident Evil while all they, we fans wanted was a more modern zombie game. More modern doesn’t necessarily mean faster, and faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. No, it doesn’t at all. It could be time so say goodbye.
Yet another series that doesn’t know where to go anymore. Ubisoft has always strived to bring a sort of historical tourism to the franchise, hiding the story itself in an angle and focusing on the locations. That’s been ok for a while but now fans want answers which the developer doesn’t seem to be able to provide any more.
On the other hand, we have a publisher, Ubisoft, that’s gone big thanks to a business model which is based on one triple-A each year in the Assassin’s Creed saga. Since this is among the most beloved intellectual property in the modern gaming landscape, this model has been working for a long while but due to some cheap releases, like Unity, it seems we’re coming to an end. Which is pretty sad: Syndicate was good enough, actually, showing that giving time and resources to a new studio (Quebec instead of Montreal) there’s still hope for Assassin’s Creed.
Again, just like with Metal Gear Solid, I am talking about a franchise that I really love as a gamer. Final Fantasy has been among my personal most beloved titles since I was a kid and I’ve been shaping up as a gamer thanks to the 7, 8 and 9 games in the long-running saga.
But now, especially before Final Fantasy XV was announced in the place of Versus XIII, it seems there is a lack of clarity and the impression that even such a masterpiece like Final Fantasy can’t survive not being a homogenous corpus in terms of story and lore.
Episode Duscae was really good and I look forward to playing FFXV, Type-0 HD was a good take on the future of the IP while looking at the past, but both show us that the team Square Enix should be working on something else. Both are not the Final Fantasy we’ve been falling in love for all of these years.
And this doesn’t mean there is no room for Final Fantasy in the industry; paradoxically, there is no room for Final Fantasy in the Final Fantasy series as it is intended today, a blockbuster without a precise identity, now a western role playing game with tower defense elements, now an open region game à la Dragon Age. Games like Bravely Default are the new Final Fantasy and Bravely Default itself is published by Square Enix.