7 Video Game Franchises That Went Downhill

Every once in a while, a video game comes along and defies all odds to become one of the best. Most developers recognize that and make franchises around it that stand the test of time. However, even the best video game franchises have the unlucky tendency to go downhill. As a modern gamer with little time, I understand the importance of only playing the best the industry has to offer.

To save you that precious time, I will be discussing the games that started at the top but slowly lost their charm (in favor of overwork and money) along the way. My list considers franchises that lost their originality and mechanical value or became downright bad. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the video game franchises that’ve only worsened over time.


FEAR is one of the video game franchises got worse over time
Image Courtesy: Monolith Productions

FEAR was the one game that blew a lot of minds when it was released in 2005. The game was known for its amazing visuals, cinematic combat, and bullet impacts, among other gameplay features. These, combined with horror elements, completed the tone of the game.

Alma Wade, the original protagonist, made it worth getting spooked at every turn you took. Sadly, this only lasted for the first game. The release of FEAR 2 saw the franchise becoming mainstream and losing its horror shooter mixture.

While many gamers stomached the sequel, FEAR 3 was where it all went downhill. Not only did they rename FEAR to F3AR, which kind of makes sense, but the developers sought fit to add multiplayer in every game. I still believe this did not help FEAR’s spooky and chaotic reputation.

While the franchise retains some good reviews, the originality it came out with has been lost because of too many experiments.

6. Saints Row

Saints Row latest cover
Image Courtesy: Deep Silver Volition

While most of the franchises here have a lot of games in their repertoire, Saints Row does not. Originally released in 2006, the game did not immediately become a cult classic. However, as time passed, people started appreciating its wacky gameplay. With the follow-up of a great sequel in the form of Saints Row 2, the franchise started to build its reputation.

Unfortunately, that did not last long. While Saints Row 3 did bring many new elements, including better visuals, it ultimately felt mediocre. This sad trend continued with Saints Row IV and even the follow-up expansion Gat out of Hell. The same peppyness that popularized the series started to feel bland and repetitive.

I had high hopes for the newest Saints Row title. However, with the disastrous launch of Saints Row in 2022, I put them to rest. I doubt there will be any more Saints Row games from the franchise for now, at least, and maybe it’s better this way.

5. Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden Cover for worse video game franchises list
Image Courtesy: Team Ninja

There is a reason why gamers do not always like Remakes and Remasters. Most of the time, the remastered titles are outright the same with only minor changes. On the flip side, the developers sometimes change so much that the new one barely feels like the original.

Ninja Gaiden, however, had the right formula on hand. After an original trilogy on the arcade and another trilogy later, the series had already made a name for itself. To capitalize on that, Team Ninja listened to the fans and reworked the Gaiden series for the new generation.

The franchise had all the good stuff, including the gore, amazing controls, great mechanics, fun-to-slice enemies, and challenging pacing. The dev team followed it up with another successful sequel that contained all the original elements with more brutal and fun features.

Sadly, that ship sailed in 2012 when Team Ninja tried to reach ultimate perfection and made Ninja Gaiden 3. Meant to be a massive improvement, Gaiden 3 sadly did not contain anything that made Ninja Gaiden what it was. The game started losing what gave it the charm, including the fun gameplay, the gory elements, and even the challenge. You can already tell the franchise had lost the plot by now. Even after a fixed re-release, it couldn’t contain the damage.

After the Gaiden 3 fiasco, the franchise never got back on its feet, even after a different game like Yaiba was released later. Ninja Gaiden, the franchise once rejoiced by many, was ruined by thinking too much and trying to add unnecessary things to an already good game. As it turns out, sometimes, less is more.

4. Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor Allied Assault
Image Courtesy: EA/ Dreamworks

I didn’t even think I would be counting this franchise on this list, but here we are. In 1999, Medal of Honor was released for PlayStation and set the tone for war-themed shooters. Created with the help of Steven Spielberg, EA made a cinematic masterpiece that showered players with the experience of war in every way possible.

It was the first time we witnessed WW2 in a video game, and it delivered. While Dreamworks initially worked on the project, Underground did a great job. With the development and production shifting, Allied Assault and Frontline still delivered. The originality and experience of the Medal of Honor was intact.

This was until the Rising Sun came out. While the developers tried to replicate the horrors of Pearl Harbor, the entire thing fell flat. This was also when gamers realized that the franchise had started to give the same treatment to every game after the first couple of successes. The original essence of war was bland, the cinematics were not up to the mark, and the gameplay did not match its competitors.

EA could have done a lot more for the franchise if it bothered to keep evolving the original idea with better gameplay. However, in the end, a general lack of understanding of its player base ultimately led to the franchise’s downfall.

3. Megaman X

Megaman X got worse over time
Image Courtesy: Capcom

One of my favorite childhood memories is booting up my Sega Saturn and playing Megaman X3. The game was the right amount of fun and challenging to keep me on my toes. Diving back into older versions like Megaman X and X2 felt even better. They had more gameplay to offer, coupled with platforming challenges. Sadly, this was also when I realized that Megaman X was losing its charm.

True to what I had felt, that happened when the rest of the sequels came. While Megaman X4 kept its originality, it became evident the game was bland, and the challenges started to feel repetitive. With a mediocre X5 and outright bad X6, Megaman was going downhill pretty fast.

To its credit, the franchise did try to recover with X7 and X8, but those were a bust, too, as the spark was gone. The quality drop hit the franchise so hard that some fans don’t even remember it having so many games. And in this case, I feel it’s best to forget.

2. Call of Duty

Call of Duty 4 cover
Image Courtesy: Activision

Call of Duty is one of my personal favorites among all the video game franchises on this list. From the very beginning, Activision made sure the game went in the right direction and created a warlike feel for anyone playing it. The battle sequences, combat mechanics, and storytelling were always the keys to Call of Duty games.

Games like COD 4 (Modern Warfare), Black Ops (1&2), and COD: Modern Warfare 2 were fun and chaotic and had everything an FPS should. While the third Modern Warfare started to fall shorter than its older editions, the single-player campaigns were more believable, and the multiplayer was enjoyable.

However, there are only so many times you can pump a new COD game every year and not have it backfire. While this formula worked until 2013 for Modern Warfare and Black Ops, it didn’t work for COD: Ghosts.

The gameplay was downright mediocre, and it was clear Activision had turned the COD franchise into just another cash-grab. This was followed by half-baked games like Advanced Warfare, COD: WW2, Vanguard, the new remake of Modern Warfare 2019, MW2. And who can forget the recently launched and infamous COD: Modern Warfare 3 campaign? At this point, most gamers understood the repetitive formula Activision was using to gouge gamers.

The original Warzone game felt like a good battle royale until the developers decided to pump half-baked content, making it less enjoyable. Sadly, many people still buy Call of Duty games, hoping to see their beloved franchise return to its glory days. Me? I’m not holding my breath.

1. Silent Hill

Silent Hill trilogy cover
Image Courtesy: Konami

The number one spot for franchises that went downhill goes to none other than Silent Hill. While most people saw it coming, it didn’t start that way. Silent Hill, made by a little team from Konami, had a perfect horror experience written all over it. The original Silent Hill trilogy was critically acclaimed and has received a solid global reception. Although the fourth game tried adding something unique to the experience, it was still not bad.

That sequel perfection meter did not last long, as the first disaster from Konami came in the form of Homecoming. Konami did things to the game that were unnecessary. This horrible experience continued with Silent Hill: Downpour, which, to be honest, did not feel like a part of the franchise at all. Although Konami tried to fix the franchise with Shattered Memories, it failed.

The company tried to convince fans with a sprinkle of spinoffs and short experiences like the Short Message. But if I’m honest, it still counts as a failed attempt to me. My only hope is that the Silent Hill 2 remake works wonders and the original flavor returns to the franchise.

Honorable Mentions:

Before the list ends, my honorable mention would be Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise. While the games’ primary goal was to emulate skateboarding in the virtual world, coupled with cool tricks, the franchise went gimmicky after the fifth edition. Sadly, Activision, as we mentioned above, is famous for fumbles like that after making good games.

Do you think any of these games do not belong on the list? Or do you want to suggest some worse ones? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

comment Comments 0
Leave a Reply