For quite some time now, the gaming and cinema industry has been engulfed in a phenomenon of bringing old ideas back from the dead. Nowadays, it seems like any past franchise, presumed to be forever dormant, has the chance of being revived through a reboot, remake, or sequel. Of course, there’s no problem with a studio or a group of creatives going back to a series to realise unfulfilled potential, especially if there’s an audience for it, but I wouldn’t be mentioning any of this if there wasn’t some kind of inherent problem.
The most visible and recent issue to arise is the realisation that many of these reboots/sequels are not only unnecessary but often release to a chorus of mixed or negative reviews. In short, these types of movies aren’t made out of a passion for the originals but simply to cash in on an established and known quantity. Increasingly, in entertainment, names and marketability are beginning to override quality in terms of importance. The past few years have seen movies with big brands attached to them that have failed to kickstart a new series or garner any positive attention. Terminator Genisys and the newest attempt at a Fantastic Four movie are clear examples of studios putting too much stake into a name, hoping that people will see films based on familiarity alone. And with that way of thinking, the video game industry may not be too far behind.
Although I haven’t played it yet, and by all accounts, it’s quite good, Bethesda and Arkane Studios’ Prey might just be a warning sign for the future of the gaming industry—and it doesn’t seem good. It’s common knowledge by now that the newest Prey has no connection to the original Prey itself or the planned sequel, Prey 2. Essentially, Bethesda had the rights to the name, the name sounded good, and that new names are hard to come up with. Like, literally, that’s what the lead creative director for the game said. But it’s hard to imagine that the main reason for the title’s choosing wasn’t motivated by possible monetary gain, mostly from witting and unwitting consumers alike, buying it because of its attachment to a classic game.
With the success of this tactic, it’s likely that other developers and studios will follow suit, digging up recognisable IPs and sticking their titles onto what would otherwise be original IPs themselves. And if the gaming industry goes down the same route as cinema, branding might take the same high priority, displacing quality.
Apart from the issues in terms of business, artistically, unnecessary remakes, reboots, and sequels, diminish the value of a franchise over time. While Alien, for example, is still a powerful name in pop culture, the series still only has two universally praised entries, with the rest having spurred a host of mixed opinions.
Perhaps, some franchises are better off left dead, our memories of them unaltered by any modern day revival.