As gamers, we like to dedicate ourselves to our hobby. We are passionate and enthralled by the world of video games. We have so much to play with, so much to see and do, it’s a wonder how some of us can play it all. In fact, not all of us play every game on the market. I mean, who could with the sheer amount of games that exist on the multitude of gaming platforms? This is where we begin to see our decisions and taste take us to games we are familiar with, have comfort in, and can love and enjoy countless times over. Some of us turn to Mario for his lovely jumps and spins, while others find satisfaction in blowing up their enemies in a match of Call of Duty. So why set this scene for everyone? Why am I telling you a story based on why and how we play games? What exactly is the point? Well you see, we face a very strange and heated community in gaming now. A community of gamers that raise their fists into the air and decry the existence of… other games? Maybe we should break this down a bit. As of recent times in gaming, we have begun to see a trend of yearly title releases. Big name franchises such as the multiplayer smash hit Call of Duty, the adventurous Assassin’s Creed, and other smaller names. Each game sells by the millions, each year they top the best sellers list, and each year they are attacked and abhorred by gamers for their existence. What is it about these titles that manage to stir this kind of reaction? Surely we as gamers, shouldn’t be so ready and willing to bash on games just for the sake of existing? They’re games aren’t they? This is where we begin our breakdown of franchising in the video game world. And I’d like to start, by throwing the book at one of the biggest targets of the internet hate train yet. A franchise that has grown so quickly, released so suddenly, and put a lot of views in game theory’s pocket. Five Nights at Freddy’s. Scott Cawthon’s horror title FNAF, released last year to a wealth of popularity. Whether it was based on Markiplier wetting his pants for everyone to see, the “lore” left throughout the title for players for to find, or the gameplay itself, one thing was for sure. FNAF was a hit. Utilizing simple mechanics of camera monitoring, psychological buildup, and some pretty cheap jump-scares, FNAF was a simple and cheap title that plenty of people got their kicks out of. So it shouldn’t have come a surprise to many when FNAF2 was released. Albeit it was a relatively quick release, FNAF2 added a little bit of extra content, some more scares and tacked on a little more lore for the fans to go crazy over. But FNAF2 also came with a wave of tension for the gaming community. The release window was short, the gameplay was barely changed, and it seemed just a little too soon for a new game to have already been released. After all, the gap was only a 3 month period between games. And while the price point was only a cheap $7.99 at launch, it didn’t stop the raising of heads at the rapid release. Needless to say, FNAF2 was still successful and the fandom was happy as well. Then, fast forward a couple months and the teaser for FNAF3 came about. I don’t think anyone would have really doubted a trilogy, but this time around, the internet collectively rolled its eyes and let out a sigh. Another one already? So soon? At this point, we can guess where the rest of this is going. Surprise early releases of the 3rd and 4th titles, a happy fandom, and a happy Cawthon. But the gaming community grew more and more frustrated with every subsequent release. Cawthon’s work was thrown into the limelight as an over milked franchise that refused to innovate, banked on cheap horror, and was chasing a spotlight he didn’t know how long would last. I found the whole FNAF controversy to be incredibly interesting. On the one hand, we have the developer that could just be pursuing his passion of making horror games, and giving his dedicated fanbase what they want. They’ve all been enthralled with each release, chasing after all the tiny Easter eggs he loves to toss about, and they eat up every release like its scream-inducing candy. But on the other hand, from the outside looking in, we see a franchise that has barely changed since its initial release. We see games that look and play almost identically to the original, with maybe a couple innovations here and there to give the illusion of freshness. The parallel can be drawn with the franchises I mentioned earlier as well. Call of Duty especially is lambasted as being the same game outfitted in a new $60 package every year. Slight modifications to mechanics, slight changes to graphics, slight alterations in weapons and maybe one or two new combat choices, and we have ourselves a Call of Duty game. And the community goes bonkers for it. We have the dedicated fans that pick up every release at launch, and we have the polar opposite side that has refused to pick it up since they played the first one on PS2. So now we reach the big question. Is it wrong for developers to release less than moderately innovated games, for the sake of having content to sell? Here’s my take on the double-edged sword. On the one hand, we can throw out the age old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We see this with a lot of big name franchises. The formula and changes to the Super Mario series are minimal at best, but it works. It continues to offer fun gameplay that people can enjoy, without the risk of creating something people don’t like. On the other hand, we reach fatigue and exasperation quickly. We see the interest rate die down and the success rate begins to falter. The other risk is the developers pushing the time limit so hard, they release projects that are nearly unfinished. We all not-so-fondly recall the catastrophe that was Assassins Creed Unity. A game riddled with game breaking glitches, unfinished textures, and numerous other problems. This newer trend of quick and speedy releases has begun to plague the modern generation of games to the point of releasing broken content with a note on it that says, “Will fix when back from lunch, be back in 2 weeks.” And it isn’t just the broken development that causes issues. Cawthon’s methodology of rapid releases at the expense of innovation is also beginning to do more harm than good. Taking a look at games offered on Steam, we can see titles that have little to no work put into them, all looking to bank on a simple gimmick as quickly, and ineffectively as possible. A good friend pointed out to me, that the standard is being set that speed and repetition is beginning to take over good development and solid gameplay. That isn’t to say that the initial FNAF game was a bad game. And even the subsequent games are not terrible for what they are. They’re games that people enjoy. No game should be attacked for its existence alone. Call of Duty and Assassins Creed are examples of good franchises that had bad apples along the way. It’s the issue of putting a release date, and a price tag over good development that is harming this industry. The industry continues to change on a day by day basis. The blunders of Unity were not forgotten, nor were they ignored by the company that produces it. Ubisoft has promised that Syndicate has been carefully developed over several years and that it promises to be a great and full experience. So what can we really hope for? We can hope that people will take a look at these issues and continue to change based on the problems. After 2014’s buggiest gaming holiday of all time, I’d like to think developers have realized they need to begin putting the development over the release window. We’ve started to notice many games getting their release dates pushed back, and as upsetting as that may be, we can at least hope all of that time is being put into extra development and resources. And who knows? Maybe even Mr. Cawthon will soon realize if he hopes to stay in the business longer, he’ll have to continue to adapt and take risks if he wants to stick around. The fanbase can only keep the hype going so long after all, and when even Pewdiepie loses his enthusiasm, you know you’re due for some changes.