31: Bigger, Redder, More Potion-y

This episode Joe DeLia and Sinan Kubba are joined by returning GamerNode friends Eddie Inzauto and Christos Reid to talk about 2009′s proliferation of sequels and spin-offs. Are we reaching sequel overkill?

5 Responses to “31: Bigger, Redder, More Potion-y”
  1. Strident says:

    Great show, guys, as usual.

    Just one question…

    ** How the hell did Nintendo get away from being mentioned in a podcast about sequels?!? ** (Aside from a brief mention an hour in by Joe and another one at an hour fifteen by Sinan)

    Nintendo is a serial sequel offender (if indeed such things are considered offensive) repeatedly producing streams of games, from almost all their IPs, which change little from the titles immediately preceeding them whether they involve plumbers, racing cars or pocket monsters.

    Why are Nintenirdo immune to a lot of the critism that other companies get, that share the policy of endlessly releasing the same game again and again? (Not totally immune from, I know, as there are plenty of gamers who bemoan the lack of innovation in Zelda or Mario).

    It’s so strange. Is it just because the games are classics and so well designed that they’ll never get old? Are sequels more culturally acceptable in Japan? Whatever the reason, unbelievably Nintendo are a company that actually gets grief if they don’t attempt to wheel out yet another Mario, Zelda, Metroid or Pokemon game every couple of years.

    Regarding some of the annual sequels you mentioned…

    A think the way a lot of these games are churned out, particularly those that don’t have a narrative element, is down to the pressure at retail.

    New product is given priority on shelves, in the bricks and mortar sales space, so companies are forced to bring out new iterations every year in order to compete for attention.

    (Ironically?) It’s only Nintendo that has been able to demonstrate how some games can be evergreen, with a long tail, able to sell for years on end without a refresh. (Even games like The Sims 2 rely on regular content pack releases to regain their place in the spotlight).

    Rock Band might well have just had DLC upgrades, adding many of the improvements we saw in the second game, but competition with Guitar Hero forced EA and Harmonix to shove a new box out there on the shelves. If there’s a new Guitar Hero game they have to have a new one of their products to sit there alongside it whether it’s a track pack or a slightly meatier offering (such as The Beatles or Lego titles).

    Hefty amounts of money are spent on the licencing of the sports games, as well. If there’s a new Pro Evo due out then a new Fifa has to be on the shelves as well. Even in those instances when the games don’t have a direct competitor there is lots of pressure from the governing bodies (that award those licences) for games publishers to produce a new product to sit there promoting the sport and earning money for both parties from the licensing arrangment.

    Perhaps when (if) digital distribution takes over we’ll see a lot less sequels and more expansions. Until then, sequelitus is just a disease we’ll have to live with.

    • Sinan Kubba says:

      Hi Strident. Thanks, glad you enjoyed. But you’re right, we screwed up by forgetting Nintendo – especially with NSMB Wii just having been released and MG2 on the way, a new Metroid, and a new Zelda expected.

      I think, in my eyes anyway, I don’t see things like Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess as sequels, even if they are continuations of a franchise. Mario Galaxy, in particular, as a reinvention as well as a celebration of Mario, and for me it moved things so far forward. While Nintendo don’t hit that level of quality in all their reimaginings of franchises with each new console, I do think that they do a good job of making these franchise continuations feel fresh and exciting. It also helps that they space them out very well by keeping typically to the one-per-console strategy.

      However, when you look at something like Spirit Tracks, or even NSMB Wii (in my opinion), you wonder if maybe they’re starting to approach a brick wall with creativity. And that’s the thing, I don’t think it’s so much to do with too many sequels or a lack of demand for these continuations, it’s the dissappointment at them not making new IPs. Nintendo is in the enviable position where they have so many things to mine, things that WILL sell. So why bother making new IPs when you know another Zelda will be shit-hot – and if you do a good enough job with reinventing it, people like me won’t even cotton on.

  2. I like to think of Nintendo’s “sequels” as improvements, more than anything else. They’re not so much a continuation of narrative as a completely different take on the game every time. Look at Zelda, Mario and Metroid – not one of them really contains an ongoing narrative, but in fact the SAME narrative the majority of the time, told through different aesthetical approaches and game mechanics.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Well… it’s not true that Australia went out and bought L4D2 – it’s sold very badly here. Unfortunately, Valve pandered to the censors and crippled the game for the local release, well beyond the level of violence in the first game. (Contrast that with Sega and Rebellion, who simply appealed the AvP ban and were successful – it’s being released here as the full game.)

    No-one in their right mind bought the crippled Australian version of L4D2. Most gamers who wanted to play it imported it – but many didn’t bother even with that, because with fewer people playing it locally, the game is just laggy as hell.

  4. Joe DeLia says:

    That really is a damn shame, Jeremy. L4D2 is an awesome game. The censorship in AU is unbelievable.

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