Welcome to today’s blog, y’all! If you haven’t read the first blog I wrote about Temple Run by Imangi Studios, you should check it out.
On My Previous Blog…
I remarked about the video game industry’s current state. I also explained how Temple Run was a welcome departure from the former’s commercial-oriented practices.
Games are supposed to be addictive, not entertaining. They’re supposed to sharpen your mind, not render it dull.
While I criticized the modern-day industry, there’s a particular practice that could’ve benefited Imangi, had they capitalized on it when the time was ripe.
Now, the time is not only past-ripe, it’s shriveled up, plopped to the ground, and is being picked at by insects.
You know what practice could’ve helped it?
Video Game Franchising
In my last blog, I referred to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series and how it’s turning the concept of games on its head.
Sure, the Uncharted games are immersive and entertaining.
But, in my opinion, they’re not games. They’re what I call “interactive movies.”
Having said that, Naughty Dog is simply cognizant of how the market works. They know what people buy and they simply provide it. Supply and demand.
You can’t fault for them for that, really.
One commendable strategy of high-performing companies (that Naughty Dog does exceptionally well) is they franchise their intellectual properties if they’re deemed profitable.
How Do Developers Franchise their IPs?
Basically, they add sequels, and expand on the worlds they’ve created. They add characters and stories. They diversify the output and dabble in multimedia.
To date, Uncharted is on its way to the big screen with a feature film starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg.
Naughty Dog has kept itself in the black and soaring while cementing a loyal fanbase. Even better, they don’t seem inclined to milk their franchises like Ubisoft has done with Assassin’s Creed or Activision with Call of Duty.
Uncharted: Franchising Done Right
Nathan Drake, the main character of Uncharted, has already gone towards the sunset atop his horse with his gorgeous wife in tow.
They’ve given the Nathan Drake story a nice little wrap-up, fair to say.
Naughty Dog doesn’t seem (at present) intent on bringing him back to milk him dry.
The company has taken creative risks with its properties, too. They even killed off a major character in The Last of Us Part II (spoilers will end right here).
The company knows how to enrich their IPs without diluting their overall quality, and that’s a given.
Is Imangi Franchising?
And that brings me back to Imangi, i.e. the Bizarro Naughty Dog. Fair comparison, no? These ARE two companies that have valuable IPs involving treasure-hunters, albeit with different degrees of success.
To Imangi’s credit, they’ve released a sequel to their smash-hit: Temple Run 2 in 2013. The sequel sports a more polished feel with advanced graphics, several unique settings, more unlockable characters, and an overall “smoother” gameplay experience.
Imangi really went all out, I’ll give them that.
Now, this is just me and I don’t speak on behalf of the entire fanbase, but the sequel pales in comparison to its predecessor.
Sorry, but it just does.
While the gameplay is more “seamless,” it came with a price. The obstacles in the game’s environment are much harder to spot.
Obstacles are supposed to stick out like a sore thumb, not blend with the background. It doesn’t make for a “fair” playing experience.
Some of us that grew up playing the Nintendo 64 remember the monstrosity that was Superman 64.
Its controls were half-baked and the main gameplay mechanic, of flying through rings, was an insult to the comic book character.
The developers did not give the player a fair shot at dominating the game.
Mind you, I’m not comparing Temple Run 2 to Superman 64 because that would be gross.
No, what I’m saying is I applaud Imangi’s efforts with their sequel. I cannot, however, applaud their lack of effort after said sequel was released.
They Could’ve Done More…
It’s been several years since Imangi put out the sequel. There’s been nary an announcement of additonal projects or franchises, save for Oz and VR released in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
After that … crickets, crickets, and more crickets.
WHY DIDN’T THEY DO WHAT NAUGHTY DOG DID?!
Why not develop a comic book series detailing the background stories of Guy Dangerous and Scarlett Fox? How about Zack Wonder, the football star?
(What was a football star even doing in the jungle? An inquiring mind would like to know!)
Or an animated series? Or even a full-length feature film? Call Hollywood!
Get creative! Diversify!
It feels the two main installments of the series have left us with a lot more questions than answers. We never got to know the characters that we’ve enjoyed playing as.
There were no development arcs, either. There’s no Nathan Drake-ishness in Guy Dangerous. There’s no Elena Fisher in Scarlett Fox, either.
Okay, Let’s Take a Breather
Let’s provide some fair context.
Natalia Luckyanova and Keith Shepherd, husband and wife, run Imangi Studios.
Aside from that, not much is publicly known about them. For all I know, they could be raising kids and busy with other obligations.
Plus, the games have gotten a billion downloads each. I’m sure they’ve procured enough ad revenue to load up their savings and be set for life. I can’t begrudge them for that.
It’s unfortunate when IPs never see their potential realized.
If I had the heart of a software developer and the brain of a businessman, I would’ve capitalized the living crap out of these IPs. Because hey, why not?
There is no end to creativity and there is no end to a fan’s unwavering devotion.
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