A year ago if you had told me I would be writing this article I would have probably laughed in your face. What a preposterous idea, sequels dying? No. There’s a new Call of Duty every year. Sequels get announced before games get released. Franchises are designed before the first title is even released if anything sequels are rampant. However sometime between then and now somebody figured something out; maybe the final release date isn’t the end of the game but the start of it. Maybe sequels are dying.
With the recent release of Rainbow Six Siege’s Operation Red Crow DLC, the question was what came next for the popular FPS? The answer may have been found in a tweet from the game’s own Twitter page. It read as follows: The past year has been an incredible journey, and we are excited to have you join us for another full year of content! This is almost an outright confirmation that a second full year of add-ons is coming. However Siege is not alone in this thinking, Bungie’s very successful FPS Destiny just finished its second year of content post release. Alongside this is the quiet announcement that the Square Enix’s episodic Hitman will also be receiving a second year of content.
So what’s the big deal it’s just three games right? Well to an extent yes, however, these are three of the most successful and popular games of the current generation and have found continual support from their community. These games are also from three large developers, and generally when there is a success for something at the top it creates a trend for everyone else. However, before I get ahead of myself let’s take a wide look at current trends and see if my foreboding statement is actually supported.
Ever since horse armor showed up DLC has been a growing part of video games. Sometimes it is merely cosmetic add-ons that don’t affect your experience. Sometimes entire story arcs are added to a game, extending its life. Either way, it is a way for the developer to continue to make money on a product post release.
As time has progressed DLC has changed from simply something added on to make a more complete experience, to something that changes the experience entirely. This can be seen through verbiage changes like things being labeled expansions instead of add-ons, the size of DLC, and even the price point. While this may be new to console markets one of the biggest games of all time has proven the opportunity in this model.
World of Warcraft is arguably the most successful MMO of all time, one of the reasons behind this is the fact it has redefined itself time and time again through the use of expansions. While many still do eagerly await another Warcraft game, the continued success of WoW proves that sometimes endings truly are just beginnings. So the question becomes can this translate to a much wider range of games? The answer I find is yes, there is no reason why it cannot become more prominent. Most game universes allow for many possibilities beyond what they are originally packaged with. Games like Destiny, Hitman, and, Rainbow Six Siege prove this. As long as there is a market for it why stop? Now it should be noted there are cases where it couldn’t work. Titles like The Last of Us and Uncharted and other narratively driven titles will always look to full sequels. A book is made up of chapters but sometimes adding more doesn’t make the experience any better.
So back to the question here; are sequels dying? To be blunt no, sequels will always exist. Stories need separation and as long as there is a dedication to telling new and engrossing stories there will always be sequels. I guess the real question here is will there be fewer sequels? That is where the answer yes is. More games are proving that the journey doesn’t have to end after the first set of credits, not only is it more cost effective but it also helps cultivate an audience. Sometimes the worst part of a story is having to finish it and put it away, it seems we may have to be doing less of that in the future.
By Chris Ruskin