The reaction to Splatoon 2 not being “new enough” makes us wonder…can these multiplayer focused games really get sequels?
So this is a strange topic. Multiplayer focused games, be it MMOs, fighting games, MOBAs, so on and so forth, build communities around themselves competitively, primarily from the mechanics being engaging and enjoyable to play.
In some franchises, such as first person shooters like Call of Duty, the frequent sequels don’t impact the game much. But for genres that exist with single entries for years at a time, a sequel is a big shake up. Something like Super Smash Bros. for instance, only gets a new entry every few years. But with it comes a well documented problem: Change.
So within fighting games especially, mechanical changes are hot topics. To this day, there are known showings of events where Smash 4 is played, only for the crowd to demand Melee immediately after due to “Superiority”. Brawl is almost reviled by the community for its mechanics. The change was seen as a bad thing – Too far from Melee, is a bad game for those communities.
So jump ahead to Splatoon. A game that absolutely lives on its mechanics. But the sequel released 2 years later, most likely to bolster the console it was on early in its life, was met with near universal complaints that it “Isn’t new enough”. But the thing is, how much could they change? Too much, it falls into the Brawl trap. Too little, and this complaint arises. With Splatoon, a game so focused on it’s mechanics to stand out, if too much is changed…is it even the same game?
With other games like this, such as League of Legends, or Overwatch, try to consider a sequel. How much would they actually be able to evolve the gameplay, while keeping it the same game, before hitting the Brawl problem? These games, like Splatoon, live on expansions, some paid and some free.
But then we hit another issue – World of Warcraft is getting expansions-less servers! A basic experience is being touted as a good thing, in the face of how much the game has evolved and changed.
This is a delicate balance – Multiplayer focused games really can get sequels, but the balance between keeping it similar enough for the community while also doing enough to make it new…is difficult. Who knows, maybe Splatoon 3 will be a big hit and change a lot. Maybe an issue with Splatoon 2 was how quick it arrived in stores?
All I know is it will be very interesting to see how other game in the field evolve – if sequels ever come on new consoles like the PS5 or if the game just gets re-released.