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Why are game sequels often good and and film sequels often bad? Iteration!

January 5, 2010
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It is an oft quoted true-ism that the original of a film is the best and sequels often fail to capture the magic of the original. Examples like Blues Brothers 🙂 then Blues Brothers 2000 😦 or Matrix 🙂 then Reloaded 😦 spring to mind. It is easy to think of films who’s sequel/s was worse than the original and quite a challenge to think of films who sequel is equal or indeed better than the original.

Following this thought-experiment on – it is the opposite with games. It is easy to think of games who’s sequel is equal or indeed better than the original – Fallout to Fallout 2, GTA to Vice City and beyond, Call of Duty to Modern Warfare 2 and so on. I think this has to do with the fact that a game sequel is much more of a total iteration than a film. The next film, with a few rare exceptions (talkies, colour, 3D?) is going to be the same technical format as the last one – sure the special effects will have improved, but the main thing the makers have to iterate with is the narrative.

With a game, it is a bit different – we can iterate the whole experience, improving the controls, better graphics, tighten the gameplay, more of what worked and less of what didn’t. This is a building block in the evolution of the idea/software as a whole.  In short the second time you make a game there are lots of opportunities to really improve whereas a film is not so lucky.

Discuss.

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