The world of sequels
Tonight marks the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. While gamers around the world are staying up all night to frag each other in the new multi player mode, I can’t help but think about those who have stuck with franchise since the beginning. Despite the title, Modern Warfare 3 is actually the 12th title in the Call of Duty franchise (including expansions), yet Activision keeps pumping them out to eager fans.
If any of the creative industries can be accused of sequel overkill, its video games. Some of the more storied franchises (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Grand Theft Auto) have generated upwards of 20 titles. Its worth considering why video games are so prone to sequels. While some would argue that its simply a money grab or a safe bet, why doesn’t this logic necessarily apply to the movies, or TV series? In film if you can pump out a trilogy without alienating your fan base you have accomplished quite a feat. A good TV series may last 5 seasons, a really good series may last 7 seasons. 20 Transformers movies though? 20 seasons of Dexter? I don’t think so. I’m wondering if the proliferation of sequels has more to do with an emphasis on world and story over characters. In video games, characters like Mario and Zelda are fan favorites, but they serve as avatars through which you can explore their worlds and their stories. Because of this, Mario doesn’t grow tired in the same way Johnny Depp grows tired in the 4th Pirates movie. As such, video game producers are likely to keep pumping out sequels to eager fans waiting in lines at midnight to pick up their 12th, 13th, or 14th franchise title.
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