In the last few years, games as a business have gotten extremely competitive. We see more games released than anyone has the time to play, and things have reached a point where a game merely being “good” isn’t enough to cut it anymore.
As a developer, even if you do manage to crank out a hit, there’s no guarantee that a sequel will be able to live up to people’s expectations of it. That you’ll be able to repeat the feat a second and third time, and have the chance to establish a franchise that is consistently successful.
What a franchise needs to be successful now, at least in the long term, is its own “culture.” You know the type I’m talking about — games where the experience isn’t simply limited to playing them.
Something like wipEout and its techno-inspired soundtracks and unique aesthetic that the Designers Republic gave it that exists even today, for example. I’m told wipEout was some sort of club phenomenon in Europe in the series’ early days. And this is despite the numerous similar games such as F-Zero or Extreme G. Nothing comes close to wipEout because the series has its own unique “culture” going for it.
Team ICO has done it twice and hopefully they will pull a hat trick with The Last Guardian.
I would say that the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series’ have their own culture, as well, but I’m not quite sure if it has fully developed to that point. To me, it seems like more of a fandom. But, perhaps that is all that it takes to breed a new gaming culture?
As a big fan of GUST, I find that there is a unique, but small, community for their games. I also find that there seems to be a kind of crossover with fans of retro games. People who tend to enjoy playing older, classic games tend to enjoy GUST’s games due to the somewhat retro atmosphere in some of their games.
Definitely Lumines / Rez / Child of Eden.
So, what franchises do you believe have their own unique culture that propels them past the boundaries of merely being a “videogame” into being more of a phenomenon?