10 Iconic Game Franchises Almost Killed By One Bad Entry

A split image showing Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 3, Arno in Assassin's Creed: Unity, and Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

Video game development can be a risky business. Games are expensive to make. For significant AAA releases, they need to make large profits to justify continuing with a series. If a game sells poorly or fails to land with critics and fans, it’s unlikely to get a sequel.

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Bad games can even happen in successful and beloved franchises. Sometimes mechanics change for the worse, the story goes in a bad direction, or a game’s elements just don’t come together. Some games were received so poorly that they almost killed off their franchises, despite earlier beloved games.

10 Assassin’s Creed: Unity Made Ubisoft Rethink

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The Assassin’s Creed franchise started out as something new and unexpected. However, developers Ubisoft began releasing one every year to diminishing returns. The games after Assassin’s Creed: Revelations were uneven in quality. However, the franchise’s nadir came with Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

Unity boasted everything fans disliked about its era of Assassin’s Creed. Its story felt derivative and phoned-in. It lacked the charm and polish of the Ezio Auditore years. Worst of all, it was buggy even by the day’s standards. Unity was met with widespread backlash. Ubisoft responded by changing the formula. After the in-development Syndicate, they had to revolutionize the franchise with Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

9 Resident Evil 6 Nearly Lost The Fanbase

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The cover art for Resident Evil 6 game

The Resident Evil games evolved over time. The first was a puzzle-based game with infrequent combat. Then, they became more actionized over time. This led to a complete paradigm shift in Resident Evil 4. That game was a third-person shooter with horror elements. The horror became even more downplayed in later games, reaching its trough in Resident Evil 6.

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Resident Evil 6 was panned by fans and critics for feeling very generic. It felt like every other shooter game in a once-iconic franchise, but with zombies. It lacked any redeeming features like an engaging story, either. There was a five-year gap between 6 and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. At that time, Capcom went back to the drawing board and created something entirely different to keep the franchise afloat.

8 Dead Space 3 Fell Well Short Of Expectations

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Isaac Clarke from the cover of Dead Space 3

Dead Space was an unexpected darling of the late 2000s and early 2010s. It was a franchise of visceral and psychological horror. Players were drawn to its grim aesthetic and its claustrophobic gameplay. After two well-received games, Dead Space 3 changed too much. It became an action-packed game in bright, open environments. Players fought as many human foes as Necromorphs.

It was an attempt to update the franchise that failed terribly. Dead Space 3 received mixed reviews at best. It also underperformed financially. Players became tepid about the franchise. The only subsequent project in the franchise is an upcoming remake of Dead Space, almost a decade after the third game.

7 Deus Ex: Invisible War Necessitated A Reboot

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Alex Denton on the cover of Deus Ex: Invisible War

Deus Ex: Invisible War failed to receive the same acclaim as its iconic predecessor. It’s considered a huge step down. It suffers from a reduced scale, unbalanced gameplay, and a story that falls flat for many. Its intensely lukewarm reception put a stop to the franchise for several years. Developers Ion Storm never produced a third game.

Instead, Deus Ex remained dead in the water for eight years. Even then, it didn’t receive a sequel. Eidos-Montreal instead created the prequel Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This game saved the franchise from a reputation of only having one good game. However, its sequel, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, may be a case of history repeating.

6 Metroid: Other M Nearly Finished Off Samus Aran

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Samus Aran sprinting down a corridor in Metroid: Other M

The Metroid franchise was never consistent. Its games diverged in quality, genre, and storytelling. However, few unified fan opinions like Metroid: Other M. The game garnered some praise for its action gameplay. However, fans despised it for its reduced exploration and story. In particular, it made Samus Aran a weak and timid character who lacked agency.

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Metroid: Other M flopped hard, particularly after the beloved Metroid Prime trilogy. The series entered an extended hiatus after its release. Only the spin-off Metroid Prime: Federation Force saw release – to similar disdain. Metroid: Samus Returns found warmer reception. However, it took the announcement of Metroid Prime 4 and the release of Metroid Dread to really put the franchise back on track.

5 DmC: Devil May Cry Changed Everything Fans Liked

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Dante on the cover of DmC: Devil May Cry

The Devil May Cry series found consistent popularity with fans. Its iconic characters and stylish gameplay kept players satisfied. However, an attempt to reboot the franchise was met with apathy. DmC: Devil May Cry reimagined the games’ continuity and gameplay. Most damningly, it tried to update Dante’s design to something more modern and cool.

Fans didn’t appreciate the attempt. DmC met with slightly positive reviews from critics, and the contempt of fans. The franchise remained dormant for some time afterward, besides HD remasters of early games. In 2019, Devil May Cry 5 proved that love for the original franchise remained. It was received much more warmly.

4 Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Darkness Took A Trilogy Down With It

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lara Croft with her dual pistols in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness game

The Tomb Raider franchise had consistent ups and downs throughout many games. However, Lara Croft became a gaming icon because of the quality of the best titles. Among the worst entries, none have done as much damage to the franchise as Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

The Angel of Darkness was panned for stale gameplay, poor controls, and many technical issues. It was meant to be the first of a trilogy, but publishers Eidos Interactive scrapped those plans. They took development back from Core Design and gave it to Crystal Dynamics. Even then, it took three years for Tomb Raider: Legend to begin to repair the damage.

3 Mass Effect Andromeda Followed Controversy With Apathy

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mass Effect Andromeda Ryder Squad

Mass Effect was always a beloved game franchise. However, the controversy over Mass Effect 3 became the stuff of legend. The game’s ending caused divisiveness within the fanbase, saw allegations of false advertising, and forced developers Bioware to release a free DLC, improving it. None of this damaged Mass Effect nearly as much as Mass Effect: Andromeda.

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Mass Effect 3 was at least praised for its gameplay and many of its story beats. It inspired passion from players. Mass Effect: Andromeda was an exercise in mediocrity. It gave nothing to players hoping for a return to storytelling form. Coupled with the failure of fellow Bioware game Anthem, players doubted ever getting a good Mass Effect game. Only the release of Mass Effect Legendary Edition and a trailer for an upcoming Mass Effect game have given fans any hope.

2 WWE 2K20 Caused A Franchise Hiatus

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A pair of wrestlers celebrating in WWE 2K20

Gamers are willing to overlook many flaws in a well-liked game franchise. However, technical disasters are very hard to see the positive side of. WWE 2K20 was the culmination of years of declining quality in the WWE 2K franchise. It suffered on almost every technical level. Its controls and physics didn’t work well. Glitches and bugs were everywhere.

Both gaming fans and the wrestling community panned the game. Many publications named it one of the worst games of 2019. In response, 2K put the franchise on hiatus. Rare for a sports gaming franchise, they missed a year. WWE 2K22 was released over two years later. It was much better received and may have saved the franchise.

1 Paper Mario: Sticker Star Took Away Everything Fans Loved

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mario fighting a koopa in Paper Mario: Sticker Star game

The Paper Mario franchise was a surprising success. It’s a series of RPGs that use the unlikely premise of a 2D, paper version of Mario going on adventures. Nonetheless, a mixture of RPG gameplay, fun puzzles, and hilarious writing earned most of the franchise praise. Paper Mario: Sticker Star was released without most of these.

Sticker Star abandoned the clever and in-depth storylines of Paper Mario for a much simpler plot that resembled more conventional Mario games. The franchise stayed in a rut for some time, with a poorly-selling mainline game and a Mario & Luigi crossover. It took until 2020’s Paper Mario: The Origami King for the franchise to win some fans back.

NEXT: 10 Games That Were Broken When They Were Released


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