At this point I’ve done a fair amount of reading and writing on the history of the video game industry, and how much the forefathers of today’s gaming icons mattered to their ultimate development and dominance. But something I haven’t spent too much time on, at least until now, is the concept of a franchise from the standpoint of gaming, what it means, and which examples would be worth placing on a list of all time greats. We know what it means to be a franchise in other contexts, particularly in business, where a store or company can “franchise out” by opening new stores or companies around the respective community. We also know that it can vary in reach from the local grocery store that has three or four fronts in a fifty mile radius, to the worldwide conglomerate that exists everywhere planes travel (think McDonalds, for instance).
But when it comes to video games, this definition doesn’t really apply as readily. So for the sake of both ease and brevity, I thought I would give a quick working definition of what I consider a video game franchise to include. A gaming franchise must have multiple versions or iterations (at least three), and extra points are given for things like longevity (how long it is in existence), appearances on multiple consoles, and spinoffs both into other games and popular culture (movies, comic books, etc.). Given that we are talking about the top gaming franchises in history, obviously the quality of the games within the franchise is of the utmost importance, especially within recent generations of consoles. Shall we begin?