When it comes to video games, success can be a double-edged sword.
Once a given franchise becomes a hit, its developers often face pressure to both capitalize on and extend the hype. And although there are some exceptions, many times gaming studios back themselves into creative corners where they must appease old fans as well as attract new ones.
Unfortunately, this can lead to some series running off the rails, and losing sight of what made them so iconic in the first place.
Here are five gaming franchises that aren’t nearly as good today as they were when they burst onto the scene:
This fall from grace largely can be attributed to a developer change. Bungie Studios created the “Halo” franchise, and produced each game in the series until it handed the reigns to 343 Industries after the 2010 release of “Halo: Reach.” To put it plainly, things have been a disaster ever since.
In both of 343’s main “Halo” entries, 2012’s “Halo 4” and 2015’s “Halo 5: Guardians,” the studio has eroded the competitiveness of the franchise’s once-iconic online multiplayer. Moreover, 343 has acquiesced to current first-person shooter trends by making armor abilities core pieces of gameplay.
Once you factor in the fan-service debacle that was 2014’s “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” and it’s become clear that 343 has its finger nowhere near the pulse of the franchise’s loyal community.
“Call of Duty”
This franchise has inexplicably found a way to be redundant as well as too progressive for its own good. Ever since “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” the multiplayer in each “Cod” game has felt the same as it did in every other entry: sprint, stab and see someone before they see you. Furthermore, there still is virtually no incentive for players to win games, as the onus often is on how much you play, versus how well you play.
We give Sledgehammer Games credit for taking a chance and sending the series into the future with 2014’s “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” but the added features and abilities simply were too much for gamers to stomach. However, the series looks like it’s going back to its roots, for better or for worse, with the upcoming “Call of Duty WWII.”
Up until “NHL 13,” a case could’ve been made that “NHL” was the premiere sports gaming franchise around, even though most of the world probably would argue for “FIFA.” But over the last few years, EA Sports has sucked all the fun out of this series, and given fans almost no incentive to purchase new releases.
Whether it be the stagnant EA Sports Hockey League, a scarce amount of new and interesting modes or just generally featuring gameplay that’s too realistic for its own good, this franchise’s glory days are well behind it.
“Sonic the Hedgehog”
It’s not a stretch to say a great “Sonic the Hedgehog” game hasn’t been released since the days of the Sega Genesis. To Sega’s credit, it’s tried to innovate the franchise and make it fresh, but in doing so it’s lost sight of what made people so obsessed with the temperamental speedster in the first place.
Creative levels, engaging boss fights and interesting story lines all have been virtually absent since the 1990s, and we’re not sure things will get much better with the upcoming “Sonic Forces.”
This franchise really has suffered from a refusal to grow up. Once “Skate” came around, it became clear gamers were tired of “Tony Hawk’s” cartoonish gameplay, and wanted something more realistic. Activision seemingly could’ve kept the series’ trademark humor and playfulness while updating the archaic gameplay, but instead the developer has consistently married juvenile themes and mechanics.