Original – Sequel – Threequel?

In the world of media – particularly in the world of movies and games, developers and producers always try to create a best-selling product that would be adored by as large a share of the population as possible. Very few succeed, but the few that do seem to be more enthusiastic about creating followup versions (sequels) to that successful project they managed to produce, rather than trying to create something new. Who can blame them? We all tend to rather being safe than sorry but what we see with these sequels is that they like to disappoint their audience through rushing projects in an attempt to maximise profits (welcome to 2018). 

BUT, when we’re talking about games, what is certainly unusual is when the developer hits the jackpot AGAIN and manages to bring out a sequel which tops the original game – something which could be argued is the case with the release of the new best-seller Red Dead Redemption 2 (not the second game in the series, but it is the sequel to RDR1). The prequel, while being a phenomenal game that caught huge success, is right now being outshone by its successor and while it is still too early to determine the game’s success in terms of sales, with the critical response and general consensus of this open-world blockbuster I think it is fair to say that RDR2 is the king of the throne of the series.

This got me thinking – with its success, it would be reasonable to think that in due time, when RDR2 sales turn stale, developers will be keen to release yet another successor, a threequel, if you will. While it is difficult to speculate on potential improvements for a trilogy already, I have no doubt in my mind that the developers have already planned many feature for the next game, in order to reserve some of the “good stuff” to ensure similar profits whenever it will be released. Consequently, I believe that this process will be repeated continuously until the public eventually inevitably loses interest in the series. Inevitably?

We’ve seen it many times before, game series consisting of 4,5,6 successors and each one tops the previous one. Eventually, however, they are all bound to be doomed as developers seem to find a single thing that is so loved by the players and butcher it completely for the next game in order to “change things up”. In essence, a developer can choose to stop at the right time and save their dignity or sell out and release sequels until the game is turned into something completely different to what the original game was supposed to be. On the top of my head, examples like the Assassin’s Creed series, Call of Duty and Final Fantasy spring to mind.

Yet, when I kept thinking about these franchises, a very popular one that I believe differs from the others is FIFA. Most “gamers” would want to slam me for even suggesting it, but hear me out. The aforementioned franchises are fictional, some with historical accuracy, some without. With FIFA, however, I think the case is unique. While it isn’t a traditional video game per se (fictional characters, campaigns, bosses etc.) it is still one of the most popular games each year, ever since the first release in 1994. The fact that each game is based on real-life footballing associations, with transfers, promotions and relegations (as well as some in-game features) being updated correspondingly every year, EA is able to produce an annual sequel with guaranteed success. The very controversial developer that is EA seems to have cracked the code in releasing sequels that keep on growing, with seemingly nothing in the way. I have followed the franchise since the 08 release and while MANY of the FIFA sequels have been horrible in terms of gameplay, people still buy the game to stay in tune with the real football world. Even though many share my opinion, the sales just keep on growing correspondingly to every new release. It leaves me with the question – If, and if so, 

when will it stop?