Franchise milking

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Franchise milking in a nutshell.

"You never rush out anything just to meet consumer demand, otherwise you end up putting out shit. Some franchises get done to death, you can't keep beating the same thing into the ground."

---Angry Video Game Nerd

The act of "Franchise Milking" in the gaming industry refers to the act of a major publisher releasing a new entry in a given franchise on a regular and consistent basis for a quick and easy profit. Sometimes, a publisher will buy smaller studios for the same reason.

It should be noted that milking is a bad act because it can quickly lead to franchise stagnation since the developers adopt a "quantity over quality" mindset, which can hurt a franchise in the long run since the developers often run out of new ideas quickly if they keep making the same game over and over.

Sometimes, a publisher will incorporate shady monetization schemes into their games in order to milk more money out of their consumers as much as possible.

Notable examples

  1. Activision is notable for milking the Call of Duty franchise and buying smaller studios (some of them even being shut down) to milk other franchises for profit, with some of them being used for just Call of Duty games.
    • Other franchises of theirs, such as Guitar Hero and Skylanders, had one annual installment every year from when they were first introduced (2005 to 2010 for the earlier, and 2011 to 2016 for the latter), as well as several spinoffs.
  2. Despite throughout the rest of 2010s since 2013, the fact that Valve was a good company in the past, nowadays they were seemly resort to milking two main games (CS:GO and Dota 2) for profit. Because of this, some of their games barely get updated anymore (most notably Team Fortress 2, which went without a major update for almost a full year). And with the announcement of Artifact, a card spin-off for Dota 2, it is assumed that they will also abandon Counter-Strike and focus entirely on the Dota series. It should be noted that CS:GO, mainly considered one of the best FPSs of all time, had a major decline in quality. This continued until the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx in October 2019, reviving their flagship franchise Half-Life, proving that they still listen to their fans.
  3. Capcom From 2011 though 2017. Capcom has milked the Street Fighter Series and Resident Evil series and lead to games like Street Fighter V and Resident Evil 6. Thankfully they stopped and made Street Fighter V better and focused on Mega Man and Devil May Cry again.
  4. 2K Games is well-known for milking WWE 2K and NBA 2K series with tons of DLCs and expensive season pass, As with the launch of NBA 2K18, they put tons of microtransactions in their AAA games, And most recently with the releases of NBA 2K20 which has all the microtransactions of NBA 2K18, but even worse to the point the game feels like a gambling simulator, and WWE 2K20 which is riddled with bugs and glitches that are just as bad as the bugs and glitches in any other WWE 2K game, but at least 2K managed to fix the other games. WWE 2K20 on the other hand had 2K losing a lot of profit; and thus, bug fixes only get released for certain superstar entrances and not the whole load of bugs and glitches that exist. WWE 2K20 was also responsible for the dropping of 2K's visuals for WWE 2K21, which that game's release is in doubt due to WWE 2K20's poor sales.
  5. EA is notorious for milking almost absolutely every franchise they own, much like Activision. Two particular examples are the FIFA and Madden series, being released annually with physical bugs that were never fixed, and with less and less effort put into single player content with each new release.
    • Another franchise that gets milked frequently by EA is Need for Speed, ever since the second game of the franchise a new NFS game is published nearly every year, with little to no innovations besides a new environment and some new cars. While NFS: Payback does feature some new elements, it still lacks originality in general and appears to be heavily inspired by other franchises like Fast & Furious, Grand Theft Auto, Forza Horizon and The Crew.
  6. Winged Cloud is infamous for milking the Sakura hentai game series. They also cash-in on the popularity of their artist (Wanaca) by opening a Patreon account to sell wallpapers drawn by Wanaca.
  7. While the Tomb Raider games were great, the early games (then published by Eidos Interactive) were milked for all their worth, with a new game released every year with minimal changes made to them, up until 2000 when Tomb Raider Chronicles was released. By the time the series made the leap to PS2 in 2003, the game suffered from dated game mechanics, archaic controls, and a lack of polish. The series was rebooted in 2006, and again in 2013 by Square Enix, the latter receiving wide critical and commercial success and repopularizing the franchise.
  8. For a while, Ubisoft released a new Assassin's Creed each year, and as a result, the series had little changes between them aside from the setting and characters. The series went on a one-year hiatus after Syndicate as a result.
    • In addition, they also release a new Just Dance game every year in order to catch up with the latest hit songs, causing most of the songs to have recycled moves and Gold Moves that are exactly the same as the regular moves. Not to mention that every single game, up until Just Dance 2020, has been released on the Wii!
  9. Though the quality has remained more consistent, Microsoft has been milking the Forza franchise like crazy lately. Since 2011's Forza Motorsport 4, there has been as a new Forza title released every single year, alternating between Forza Motorsport, and Forza Horizon each year. Some fans have even gone as far as to describe Forza as the "Call of Duty of racing games" as a result of it.
  10. Though the series wasn't milked, the popularity of the Dead Rising, The Walking Dead, Left 4 Dead and Plants vs. Zombies series has led many developers to try and cash in on the zombie genre in recent years, and while some were more successful than others, most of them were uninspired and generic zombie survival and tower defense games that were hard to distinguish from each other.
  11. Mobile game developers often put tons of microtransactions in their video games to milk more money.
  12. Bandai Namco constantly churns out games based on licensed anime and manga properties, such as Dragon Ball and Wangan Midnight, usually for cheap microtransaction filled mobile games or even worse, full-priced retail games with ridiculous DLC or pay-to-win elements. While the company occasionally uses properties like Pac-Man, Galaga and Tekken, many of their older franchises such as Mr. Driller, Dig Dug, Xevious, Katamari, Mappy and Klonoa are either milked for mobile games or just forgotten entirely. The only IPs they seem to be using properly anymore is Tales of and IdolMaster, which they have began milking to the point that they've stopped using their own flagship franchise, Pac-Man, properly and he has since been degraded to constant mobile games or nostalgia pandering remakes and remixes of the original 1980's games, despite fans desperate outcries for a return to the formula and scale used in the Pac-Man World trilogy.
  13. Nintendo has been milking Fire Emblem Awakening, Fates and, to some extent more recently, Shadow Dragon, ever since their releases. While it's understandable that they would give more attention to the most popular games in the series (the first game in Shadow Dragon's case), this sometimes goes to ridiculous lengths, like how in Fire Emblem Warriors there are only two characters who don't come from those games, or how in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, what little there is of Fire Emblem representation is only seen through Awakening and Shadow Dragon characters.
    • Due to it's massive success in sales, Nintendo have been kinda milking Animal Crossing: New Horizons recently, despite it being lackluster content wise compared to previous entries.
    • They are mainly guilty for making Super Mario one of the most milked franchises of all time with HUNDREDS of games featuring Mario himself (and even more if you count the spin-off games that don't feature him), which considering the amazing quality in most of the games, it's not that much of a problem. It even got to the point where there are 3 shows (4 if you count the Donkey Kong Country cartoon), a theme park expansion in Universal Studios Japan, and even 2 movies (with a third one on the way), not that it's a problem either. What does makes this a problem is that they released a fraction of Mario games that have turned out to be bad (primarily the case on third-party platforms like PC and Mobile), like Paper Mario Sticker Star, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, Mario Party The Top 100, Dr Mario World, Hotel Mario, every Mario education game, the third party ports, Mario All Stars Wii and Mario 3D All Stars, and Mario Kart Tour.
  14. Roblox, despite being a good company in the past, is now notable for milking the catalogue for profit and for caring very little to no about the gameplay and the game engine itself. Roblox has notable bugs and glitches which were never meant to be fixed, and haunting the game ever since its launch. Also, Roblox developers milk their games for profit.
  15. Insomniac Games, despite being a good company, used to milk the Ratchet & Clank franchise until 2013. Most of the games have been good though.
  16. Due to Final Fantasy XV being in development hell for over 10 years, Square Enix has been milking the game for all its worth, as they released many DLCs for the game (both paid and free), an awful mobile strategy game, and a watered-down portable version.
  17. Vivendi Universal used to milk Crash Bandicoot until 2007 came around.
  18. Since its huge success in the early 2010's, Rovio Entertainment has overmilked Angry Birds by turning it into a multimedia franchise, with lots of merchandise (toys, costumes, books, party supplies, etc), more than five cartoon shows, a theme park and the cherry on top of the cake, the movies, leaving Angry Birds into a decline because of milking the series. So much, in fact, Rovio removed the older games in 2019 just to get people to play the newer, and therefore, more inferior games.
  19. Bemani, They have been releasing new Pop'n Music games every year since 1998.
  20. Sega was guilty of milking Sonic the Hedgehog to death. Ever since they went third-party, there has been a new Sonic game almost every year; in fact, they released about 43 Sonic games (18, if not counting spin-off's) between 2001 and 2017! The games have had very polarizing receptions with the best-rated ones catering to the classic fans, though nostalgia-pandering didn't pay off in Sonic Forces due to being completely redundant. Fortunately, they stopped milking the franchise. In fact, they make only about one Sonic game per year nowadays.
    • Back then, the creator, Yuji Naka, wanted to end the Sonic series with Sonic Adventure 2 and focusing on sub sequel series instead. However, Sega rejected the idea of making Sonic go sub-series for unknown reasons, probably since it was now Sega's cash cow.
    • Because of this, several games were rushed. Two notable examples are Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), which at launch had a convoluted and messed up story and numerous bugs and glitches. The other example is Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. At launch, the game had, just like Sonic '06, numerous bugs and glitches, poor graphics, occasional frame drops, terrible music and not to forget the fact that both of the games were released completely unfinished and destroyed Sonic's reputation.
    • Sega's obsession with Sonic has affected almost every other franchise of their own (Nights, Alex Kidd, etc...), reducing them to mere cameos in Sonic's sports games (like Sega Superstar Tennis or the Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing series).
    • Also, they're tend to focus way too much on Sonic himself in recent games, while ignoring most of the other characters (including Tails), as they're useless and reduced to cameos (most notably Blaze and Silver).
  21. tinyBuild is known for milking the Hello Neighbor series, despite the negative reception, by issuing two spin-offs as Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek and Secret Neighbor, ending with the animated adaptation called Hello Neighbor Animated Series (only the first episode has been released so far).22.
  22. Take-Two forcing Rockstar to milk GTA V to be on every console generation just to get more money off of Shark cards, from its multiplayer online mode. As well they try to the same in RDR2 by forcibly adding its Multiplayer online mode, that late in development, instead of during development. And this ending up more disastrous, than GTA online, as resulted being not too much update in either modes as of 2020.
  23. Same goes for 2K Games and the NBA 2K series, leading to NBA 2K18, NBA 2K20, and NBA 2K21 being terrible.
  24. Game Freak milking the Pokémon series, resulting in mediocre games like Sword and Shield. Though they could have been forced to milk by Nintendo, so they can barely focus on their other games.

Why This Practice Sucks

  1. As mentioned above, it is inevitable that a milked franchise will stagnate at some point. A notable example is Sonic's or NBA 2K's downfall.
  2. Many small good studios are killed off when the publisher can no longer profit off their IP. Sometimes, games are cancelled because of this.
  3. Many milked games were used recycled assets from any previous games, which can get really annoying by the players when recognizing the sounds, music, models, etc. on where it was originated from. A cutscene from Call of Duty: Ghosts that was recycled from MW2 is a prime example of this.
  4. It encourages bad and new developers to make money.
  5. It also lessens the development time without having a lot of time to make something original and completely new to the point of being lazy.
  6. It also leads to the creation of rushed games, shovelware games and even asset flips.
  7. It makes respected and beloved companies like Valve turn lazy and unable to make new games for a while.
  8. Fans of a particular series will eventually tired of it due to so many games being released on a regular basis.
  9. Most of the time, annual releases end up getting stale very, very quickly due to a lack of original and fresh content.
  10. The "Quantity over Quality" mindset often leads to a new game being nothing than a copy/paste job of the previous entry, such as many Call of Duty and FIFA games.
  11. Sometimes, franchise milking can encourage other publishers to follow suit. If that franchise is successful, other developers will attempt to cash in on its popularity, thus it leads to over-saturation.
  12. Large publishers who milk their most popular IPs often end up ignoring other franchises they own (assuming, of course, they have other IP's).
  13. Fans will lose hope in the company or franchise if it keeps getting milked.


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