What does it mean to be a fan of a series?

With Resident Evil 6 completely polarizing fans of the series, it's gotten me thinking about what exactly it means to be a fan of a game franchise. Ostensibly one would be drawn in by things like the mechanics, story and characters, but these are all the result of the staff working on the game, not the franchise itself. Resident Evil didn't spontaneously conceive itself and then print itself onto PS1 discs, it was the product of Shinji Mikami and his staff at Capcom who crafted the game mechanics, characters, story, atmosphere, visuals, sound and every other aspect of that game that so many people fell in love with.

With any franchise people are added or removed from the team that works on it for various reasons until eventually you don't have any of the people who helped create the franchise in the first place, and at that point what exactly is it that you're a fan of? How many of the people that worked on the original Resident Evil for the PS1 are actually still around at Capcom working on Resident Evil games? Is there anyone who links the staffs of Resident Evils 1 and 6, or even just 4 and 6 together? If not, then what is anyone's stake in that game? At that point what is the difference between Resident Evil 6 and any other shooter on the market? Sure, it has the name, and it has the characters that I know, and it has some mechanical similarities to the previous installments, but what do I care about the continuing adventures of Leon S. Kennedy or Chris Redfield when the people behind the scenes that made those previous adventures so great, be it because of the gameplay or because of the story, are no longer there?

I'm not saying that you should immediately stop caring about a game or a franchise the second it changes hands creatively, but why should someone eagerly anticipate a game with no creative links to the original games they loved so much based on name alone? Why should they be so let down when it fails to deliver when there's no actual reason to expect it to, or vehemently defend it from the detractors before they've even played it themselves? Why should someone say they're a fan of a franchise, when there's nothing linking it all together except a name? I was hoping putting this blog together would help me sort everything out, but I still can't answer that question.