With Destiny 2 going free-to-play in order to regain its old audience it got me thinking about other attempts to revive a franchise. Sometimes slapping a fresh coat of paint to an old franchise just isn’t enough. If a franchise wants to remain relevant it needs to find a way to bring new eyes to its product. The franchises on this list have once been the talk of the town before slowly fading away, only to introduce something new that brought them back to the spotlight. So from successful spinoff to faithful remakes here are 5 Game Franchises That Revived Themselves. For this list, I will be excluding games like Call of Duty, and Assasin Creed because despite not being as popular as they once were they still get consistent releases, and also none of them really did anything too dramatic to revive themselves.
5. Pokemon GO
Pokemon as a franchise is massive, with a long-running anime, a successful toy line, a card game, and a live-action movie. However, despite its success, there has always been this mentality that Pokemon outside of Japan has a very niche audience. The main series of games always sold well, but Pokemon always seemed like it needed one more ingredient to regain the audience it once lost. These led to a number of spinoff games such as Pokemon Rangers, The Mystery Dungeon Series, and the highly underappreciated Pokemon Showdown. These games vary in success, but on July 6, 2016, Pokemon GO was released on mobile devices an immediately took the world by storm. Pokemon GO allowed the player to walk outside in order to capture pokemon located in different areas of your local neighborhood. The game perfectly captures the childhood dream of going on your own pokemon adventure, while at the same time was the perfect way for older players to enjoy a healthy and safe way to exercise. Pokemon GO was so successful that it brought a new audience to the franchise. Helping the next games in the series Pokemon Sun and Moon become two of the highest-grossing games of the year.
4. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy
The Crash Bandicoot franchise was once held as the face of Sony, standing toe to toe with the likes of Mario and Sonic. However, after the first three games, and CTR Racing the franchise was moved around from developer to developer with none of them really delivering a quality Crash game. That all changed on June 30, 2017, when Activision, the current owners of the Crash Bandicoot, released the N. Sane Trilogy. A total remaster of the first three games made by the legendary developer Naughty Dog. The N.Sane Trilogy allowed old fans to relive the glory days of Crash Bandicoot, and it gave new fans a frustrating introduction to the classic platformer. Since the games needed to be made from scratch the developers Vicarious Vision used the Crash 3 engine to make all three games which heavily affected the feel of the first game. The N.Sane Trilogy quickly became a success and it inspired a CTR remake the following year, along with Spyro the Re-ignite Trilogy. In other words, The N. Sane Trilogy was a real two for one deal.
3. Sonic Mania
Unlike the last entry on this list, the Sonic Franchise was always developed by Team Sonic, outside of a few spinoff, under the umbrella of Sega. The biggest hurdle that the Sonic franchise needed to overcome was the move to 3D. It always seemed that Sonic struggled to maintain the title of the fastest thing alive when the games could never capture the same feeling. After the disaster that was Sonic Boom, Sega did something unexpected, they team up with developer Christian Whitehead a man famously know for his ports of early Sega Sonic tittles, along with creating Sonic fangames. He was given the helms to work on the next Sonic game, and on August 15, 2017, Sonic Mania was released. A love letter to old school Sonic the game was praised for its tight controllers, along with amazing level design.
Sega took a big risk letting a ‘fan,’ develope the game. However, the gamble proved to be a huge success. Sonic Mania was the shot in the arm that proves that old school can still work.
2. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The Resident Evil franchise feels like a rollercoaster that reached it first peek with Resident Evil 2, then it fell off only to reach the top again with Resident Evil 4. What started out as a survival horror juggernaut, quickly became an action B movie, with heavier explosions, larger set pieces, but nothing really to invest in. Despite many fans believing that the lowest point of the franchise was Resident Evil 6, I believe the real lowest point of the franchise was the multiplayer-only game Resident Umbrella Corp which came out a few weeks after Overwatch as an attempt to capture the same audience. Resident Evil Revelation was a welcomed change of pace bringing back the tense close-quarters combat, but it wasn’t the reinvention that the franchise needed.
Resident Evil 7 combined the old and new to bring something special. The new engine easily made the game stand out with its realistic graphics. However, the biggest change that the game undertook was the move to a first-person perspective. This made the game feel more personal as you feel the scares coming straight for you, instead of seeing the monsters attack the character you are playing as. Resident Evil 7 brought the franchise back, and it gave Capcom all the momentum it needed to announce Resident Evil 2 Remake which is easily one of the best games in the franchise.
1. Old School Runescape / World of Warcraft Classic
Back in the 2000s two of biggest MMORPG were Runescape and World of Warcraft the two behemoths would suck players in with their lore and amazing gameplay for hours, months, and even years. Runescape had a free to play model, but it locked you into a few towns and events forcing you to become a member to really experience the game. World of Warcraft, on the other hand, always went with a subscription-based model. Each game proved to be successful in their own way, with Warcraft the clear winner. Warcraft was so popular it was even parodied on the famous South Park episode “Make Love Not Warcraft.” Runescape still maintained a strong following until the introduction of Runescape 3, a complete overhaul of the game, with new fighting mechanics, and change in the graphic. This change was so dramatic that it alienated a huge chunk of the community. Warcraft also suffered from subpar releases such as the infamous “Mist of Pandaria.” However, the biggest hurdle that Warcraft could not overcome was the rise of the free-to-play model. With its refusal to change to match newer MMORPG, Warcraft started to feel like an old relic.
On February 22, 2013, Jagex release OldSchool Runescape, a version of Runescape that gave players access to the old Runescape 2 servers allowing players to relive the glory days. The game was a massive success even beating Runescape 3 in player count, however, the real success would not come for a few more years on October 30, 2018, with the release of Old School Runescape on mobile. World of Warcraft would also take the world by storm once more when Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic on August 26, 2019. Using the same concept as OldSchool Runescape, World of Warcraft manage to bring back the franchise to the point that the servers could not handle all the new players.