How can Hollywood continue producing the worst movie sequels to ever exist when video game sequels are consistently great?

We are all familiar with terrible movie sequels.

From classics like the Exorcist 2 or Weekend at Bernie’s 2 (did you know these even existed?), to more recent duds like Zoolander 2 or Batman’s The Dark Knight Rises, we’ve all experienced getting caught up in the excitement of revisiting characters and storylines that we love, only to be served a complete turd.

It’s an unfortunate Hollywood trend that any movie that performs decently at the box office is likely to be in line for a sequel, just so they can squeeze every dollar they can out of it, often without regard to the quality of the product.  And it’s not just sequels either.  Instead of coming up with fresh new movies ideas, studios will also pump out remakes, leading to disasters like Clash of the Titans (2010), Psycho (1998) and Swept Away (2002).

There are, of course, exceptions. Terminator 2, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and the second and third Lord of The Rings movies all improved upon and outdid their predecessors.  Unfortunately, their commercial success meant these franchises didn’t slow down, and eventually dropped the ball when it came to quality (no more fucking prequels please!).

video game sequels
I’ll be back. For another sequel. Source – wikia.com

Gaming developers are eager to create improved video game sequels.

When it comes to video game sequels, it’s a completely different story. Companies often struggle against well-established franchises when they release a game with completely new concepts and characters. But developers will learn from their mistakes, actually listen to customer feedback, and then build upon the successes of their original game to create a sequel that’s a vastly improved product.

Take for example Assassin’s Creed. The first game in the series featured many of the components that the series is well known for: The concept of being in the present day and using the Animus to explore the past; the centuries long battle between the Templars and the Assassins; the ability to explore vast cities by rooftop; the concept of rewarding stealth to achieve your objectives, rather than just fighting your way through. And of course, the leap of faith.

While fans were intrigued enough by the unique concept of the game, there were some gameplay issues, such as overly repetitive missions, clunky combat, one-dimensional characters and environments that rarely varied.  By the time Assassin’s Creed 2 came out, almost all of its issues had been addressed.  The game looked, sounded and played better. The characters and storyline were far more engaging. There were all sorts of different missions and cities to explore, and significantly more replayability and collectibles to keep players engaged and stimulated.

As a result, the game was a huge success and the series has become a powerful franchise that continually tries to innovate and improve with each new game release. This is in complete contrast to the recent Assassin’s Creed movie, which was mostly fucking terrible and has almost no chance of getting a sequel.

Video game sequels
Assassin’s Creed got a little Assassin’s Greedy. Source – 20th Century Fox

There are reasons video game sequels and movie sequels differ in quality.

It seems that Hollywood just doesn’t have the patience to give a good concept another go if it hasn’t done well the first time out.  Maybe this is because movies are a lot more subjective, and, quite often, the best product isn’t necessarily the one that is the most commercially viable.  Maybe it’s because quality video games can’t be rushed and pushed out the same way movies can.

AAA video games typically take two years to make, and employ much larger teams to create their product (which you may have noticed if you’ve ever watched the credits after you beat a video game instead of jumping around your living and screaming your head off to celebrate your success).

The other crucial factor here is that the key components of a good movie are a good storyline, good acting, and good directing.  Many movies suffer from not investing enough time and money into one of these aspects, and sequels are often green-lit without the same level of thought and funds as was the case with the original movie.

In contrast, video games consist of many factors that can make a game great.  The storyline is no longer the most important factor; instead it’s more about the gameplay.  Even though storylines are becoming more and more important, there are still plenty of great games that pay very little, if any, attention to the storyline.

Just think of Mario. There’s a reason the attempt at a movie turned out to be a colossal piece of crap. The game focuses on gameplay first, supplemented with outstanding graphics and audio. Its storyline doesn’t change: A fat plumber is trying to save a princess from a horny mutant (not a ninja) turtle.

Video game sequels
Issa me. Source – superluigobros.com

Of course, with such a focus in video games on production values, it means that as technology continually improves, video games are continually getting better and better.

Fascinatingly, when it comes to movies, excessive focus on production technology tends to lead to lower quality movies.  Maybe Michael Bay does it for you, but explosions and special effects aren’t enough for me to make up for substandard acting and nonsensical storylines.

That’s not to say that storylines aren’t important in video games.  In fact, with the way things are trending, video games are becoming more of an experience rather than just a game, and so storylines are becoming more important than ever.  Gamers can interact with their characters in ways that movie-goers can’t, empowered by the ability to make decisions in games that alter the storyline.  People will also spend a lot more time with a game compared to a movie, allowing for far more complex stories to be told and a much stronger bond to be created between the gamer and the characters.

It’s almost impossible to think of a movie franchise that continually gets better with each entry into the series.

And yet there are plenty of video game franchises achieving this, such as The Legend of Zelda, Tekken and Grand Theft Auto.  It’s really no surprise that the video game industry has overtaken the movie industry and continues to grow in ambition and size.

video game sequels
Thanks for being you, Zelda. Source – forbes.com

The onus is really on Hollywood to start treating us with a bit more respect and to stop pumping out garbage sequels for every half hit they produce.  For now, let’s be thankful that the gaming industry continues to give us video game sequels that we can actually look forward to.

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Musician, movement specialist, avid gamer and practitioner of the dark arts. Give him a good story and he'll be hooked.

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] The video game market is flooded with franchises and sequels, and it isn’t very often that we get a big budget game that features an entirely original concept. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it sometimes takes a few entries into a series (and a few fuckups) to really hit its peak and start producing excellent games (as discussed in my article here). […]

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