It’s no great secret that the video game industry is one of sequels and reboots. Established brands are a far less risky venture for publishers, often yielding more profitable returns than new IPs, which is why we’re still enjoying ancient franchise today. Once influential titles typically translate to big audiences, which in turn leads to money, and that’s what makes everything tick.
In brief, if an older IP still has a substantial following and a publisher is cashing in on it, chances are it was at one time a pretty big deal. And similarly, franchises consigned to the history books probably did as little for video games as they did for coffers of the publishers backing them. But Square Enix has reminded us all that, that isn’t quite the case in every circumstance when they closed the book on Deus Ex.
The original Deus Ex game from 2000 was seminal in its ground breaking mesh of shooting, role-playing, stealth, and player choice. It was as significant to RPGs as DOOM was to FPS, or Gran Turismo was to racing sims. It was the catalyst for an industry standard, setting the beat for game design that would be copied and incorporated into dozens of future games.
Boss battles aside – later amended in the director’s cut version – Human Revolution was a brilliant reboot, too. The game’s director, Jean-François Dugas, superbly reinvented the gameplay mechanics, cyberpunk ambiance, and global conspiracy narrative of the original. 2.5 million copies later, the future looked bright, with even Square Enix bullishly declaring Deus Ex a flagship franchise moving forward.
But fast forward to 2017, 6 months after the release of the long-awaited sequel, Mankind Divided, and plans for the series have been turned upside down. Placed on hiatus, we may now never get a conclusion to its story, or worse, ever see a substantial entry to the series again.
So what on earth went so wrong as to cause Square Enix’s drastic 180 degree turn?