If you step back, it pretty astounding just how far video games have come in terms of gameplay and design in such a short amount of time. However, it seems as the cost of production for A-list games has increased, the desire to take new risks and explore uncharted territory (no pun intended) has diminished. Though I believe the modern gaming market is a far-cry from being truly stale, (especially compared with Hollywood) I still experience sequel fatigue, which I'm sure many of you can relate to.
I love when developers try to take well-worn series in new directions, and I think for many gamers, there is an expectation for innovation with each new iteration. However, I can't help but feel that some franchises seem to get a free pass. After two iterations of Modern Warfare, many series fans felt tired of the formula and demanded change, which led to a pretty serious falling out for many, when MW3 failed to live up to their expectations. I too felt it was time for change, but why then do franchises like Pokemon still receive critical acclaim? Sure there are plenty of new Pokemon and the online features have improved dramatically, but the core mechanics and gameplay systems have remained almost unchanged for 15 years.
Is it because games like Pokemon and Mario Kart are more geared towards younger audiences than Assassin's Creed? (which has also gotten a lot of flack for its yearly iterations, though AC3 looks to be mixing things up) Then what about the fighting game genre? Games like Street Fighter 4 and the Mortal Kombat reboot seem like really good refinements of decade old formulas than real leaps forward. But I guess with competitive games, you start getting into risky territory. An employee at Blizzard (wish I remembered who) equated Starcraft 2 to making "basketball 2" in that the rules of play were already so well ingrained in players, and the competitive space so established (especially in Korea) that they really couldn't change much. Couldn't you argue then that competitive shooters should be able to rest on their laurels for the same reasons?
And what is it about Nintendo that allows them to get away with this in their core franchises? Sure- this isn't always the case (see Mario Galaxy) but games like Mario Kart and Zelda (pre Skyward Sword) have kept their core mechanics through several console generations.
So any thoughts? Do you guys think innovation is especially important, or would you be okay with franchises fine-tuning the existing elements of their design through multiple games? And do you guys think that games like Pokemon really are getting a free pass, or is there more to it that I'm not seeing?