Boss Rush Banter: Why Don’t We Get More Spin-Off Games?

Many of gaming’s biggest hits try to replicate their success in future installments by using the same mechanics and the same playable characters, albeit with some twists or additions. Along the way, many players fall in love with the worlds and NPCs in these games. Sometimes characters who were not playable get the spotlight in future games, but does this happen enough? In a time when sequels, remasters, and remakes dominate, why aren’t more secondary characters given their own titles and adventures?   

When making a sequel or a new entry in a video game franchise, it’s a safer approach, or at least it appears safer, to stick with what worked in the past. One can’t blame developers for wanting to make sure players know what they’re getting into, and expanding on an already well trod path. Many fans want more of the same, and it’d be foolish to subvert player expectations too much and fail to deliver on what made people fall in love with the games in the first place. From such a perspective, taking a bold risk by highlighting a new main character, which might require new mechanics, and a different context, could appear foolish.

A promotional image for Hollow Knight: Silksong. Image Credit: Team Cherry

On the other hand, a bold new choice could make a game stand out. Even if it’s just a new playable character with similar mechanics to previous entries, players may get excited. The current example for exactly this situation is the excessive amount of anticipation surrounding Hollow Knight: Silksong. That game will make Hornet a playable character, after she was an NPC in the first game. The success of the Luigi’s Mansion franchise shows that taking a supporting character and putting them out front can create a brand new beloved series. As fans fall in love with a game, they often want to see and hear more from their favorite characters, which in games like The Legend of Zelda, or many RPG series, often includes the NPCs since the protagonists of these games are sometimes blank-slate characters. 

A promotional image for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Image Credit: Nintendo

I personally would love to see more developers use their roster of characters more creatively and give popular NPCs a chance to shine in their own games. What do you think? Are there any video game characters you would like to see take the spotlight in their own titles? Let us know in the comments below or join the Boss Rush Discord to be a part of the conversation there.

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One thought on “Boss Rush Banter: Why Don’t We Get More Spin-Off Games?

  1. Ballooning development time and budget are the main reason. Because of that I’d love to see spin-off games take advantage of older technology, and (for a real pipe dream) genres that aren’t as popular now. Pixel art is forever, and lower res more artistic 3D still has appeal. I’d love more spin-offs like that.

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