Return of the King – Video Game Comebacks

A game's reputation doesn't have to last forever. Andy Prizeman-Nolan examines different cases in which a game came back from an unpopular place

The nature of the video game industry ensures that, while agame may be white-hot as it is released, eventually there will be a time whereit fades from relevancy. Whether a newer release takes over the headlines, orwhether it ends up simply playing itself out, games tend to have a limited timein the limelight. There have been times, however, where a game from years goneby starts to rebuild the fanbase and excitement it had once boasted. Cases suchas these pose the question of how a game can make such a comeback, and whatimplication does it have on today’s gaming landscape?

One such name that came back froman unloved place is the Crash Bandicoot franchise. With such a strongbeginning, debuting on the original PlayStation with a fondly rememberedplatforming trilogy, as well as a cart racing game, the wheels began to falloff as founding company Naughty Dog sold the rights for the franchise. Gamessuch as ‘Wrath of Cortex’ and ‘Tag Team Racing’ followed, garnering more mixedreviews, ultimately failing to live up to the standards set by the unanimouslyadored PS1 Trilogy. The release of ‘Crash of the Titans’ and ‘Mind overMutant’, completely abandoning the traditional platform roots it had alreadyestablished, turned out to be the nail in the coffin for many long-time fans. Theseries had departed too far from the formula that made it so loved to beginwith, and many had simply fallen out of love with the series. This remained asthe general consensus, until December 3rd, 2016, when it was announcedthat Insomniac Games would be heading a remaster project for the originaltrilogy, to be released on the current generation consoles. Any lapsed fansthat were left jaded by Crash’s latest efforts were immediately invested again,evident by the slew of positive reviews written upon release. The main thingthat the remastered trilogy did so well was tapping into what fans of Crashwere looking for. The idea of controlling a mutant as your favourite marsupialsimply wasn’t what a lot of fans expected from a Crash game; they wanted achallenging, but enriching platform experience, complete with bright visualsand a vibrant soundtrack, all of which the N Sane Trilogy provided in spades.Achieving this has brought the magic of Crash Bandicoot into the hands of awhole new generation.

Oftentimes, a game can retain a healthy number of concurrent or monthly users, while also experiencing varying peaks and lulls, but few games have ever seen such an explosive resurgence in popularity as Minecraft has. Being one of the world’s most popular games at the time of its release, Minecraft was a runaway success. Over time, these numbers began to dwindle, as former players regarded it as being a ‘kids’ game’ and sought-after new experiences. Fast forward to today, Minecraft has arguably become one of the world’s most talked-about games, yet again, 10 years after it was initially released. In December 2018, Minecraft clocked in at having 74 million active players for the month, and reached an astounding 176 million global sales, just etching Tetris to make it the highest-selling video game of all time. Part of this can be attributed to internet hype. Many content creators on sites such as Twitch and YouTube revisited the game, encouraging viewers to do the same. Creators like PewDiePie, with a subscriber list reaching 100 million, often went Number 1 on trending whenever a Minecraft video was uploaded, standing as a testament to how insanely popular Minecraft has become. Internet culture, nostalgia, and continuous updates have all helped Minecraft capture, and recapture, the hearts of millions of players.

Sometimes, all it takes is alittle bit of work to go into a game for it to redeem itself. Just look at howupdates have saved the travesty that was No Man’s Sky. Games will continue tofluctuate between different levels of popularity, but whether it be throughupdates, response to fan backlash or people simply looking to revisit an oldclassic, it is never an impossibility for a game to reclaim some of its formerglory.