Going into the 2010s, there weren’t many who would have said Dead Space would meet its end by the end of the new decade.
Heralded as an outstanding new horror IP with the release of its first title, the series was riding a wave of momentum into the 2010s. It had managed to make a decidedly survival horror title as its contemporaries – namely Resident Evil and Silent Hill – were shifting ever further into the action adventure genre.
However, as time went on, it too found itself shifting away from the genre it was known for. While Dead Space 2 was positively received upon release in 2011, it saw a notable shift from horror into action, trading tension and fear for adrenaline-inducing set-pieces.
Dead Space 3 was even worse about this, throwing its horror elements almost entirely out the window in favor of a co-op third person shooter framework; and, in the process, abandoning much of what made the series special to begin with.
As a result, the series saw a downward trend in both critical reception and sales as the years went on. By 2013, reports emerged that the Dead Space series was being put on ice, and by 2017, the franchise’s developer Visceral Games had been shuttered, burying the hopes of fans who believed Dead Space might someday return to form.
Resistance was a commendable series, but also a victim of the time in which it was developed.
A new IP and PlayStation 3 launch title, Insomniac Games’ Resistance: Fall of Man showed great potential. It melded a bleak and terrifying sci-fi horror premise with fast and frantic first-person shooter action, and the second entry in the series only continued this trend.
The third entry in the series was no exception. Released in 2011, Resistance 3 drew players further into the game franchise’s world, introducing new elements and stakes tied to its alien invaders while exploring more characters and stories within the series’ universe.
And yet, the series never managed to break through as a seminal gaming franchise on the rise.
To be sure, each entry received positive reviews, but even with the completion of its initial trilogy, it still rode the line of passable. It did just well enough to continue on for as long as its developers and publishers wanted it to, without ever standing out from the pack of other shooters or Sony exclusives in a meaningful way.
So when it started to see a gradual decline in quality with Resistance: Burning Skies – a spin-off title developed by Nihilistic Software for the PlayStation Vita and the franchise’s worst-reviewed title – it was little surprise Sony decided to walk away from the series and focus on new ventures, leaving Resistance to be remembered as a decent enough series for its time.
While some gaming franchises can claim to be victims of changing times, the Tony Hawk’s were also victims of a notable dip in quality in the 2010s.
Once a staple of sports games, the Tony Hawk’s games were in a decent place going into the 2010s. Sure, Skateboarding as a whole was beginning to fade from Mainstream popularity, and the last few entries in the series hadn’t been as polished as fans would have liked.
However, the franchise’s brand recognition alone was enough to help it weather these missteps and changing fads. So long as the new decade’s games could reclaim a certain level of quality, the series had the chance to rise back to its former glory and remain a series fans could stand behind.
Unfortunately, the opposite would happen. The four entries put out between 2010 and 2015 all proved mediocre at best and awful at worst, sporting flaws such as poor graphics, game-breaking bugs and being unplayable without massive day one patches.
It proved too much for the series’ brand to make up for, and led to declining sales and fan support as the decade went on. Tony Hawk even went so far as to announce in 2018 that he was no longer working on games in the series with publisher Activision, hammering the final nail into the series’ coffin.
Though there is a new entry in the series currently in development, it’s safe to say it won’t be greeted with the same hope and anticipation as it would have ten years ago; and even if it is a step up from past entries, it may not be enough to save the franchise from falling for good.
Saying the Dead Rising franchise deserved to fade away would be a gross exaggeration, especially considering it may have had a chance to correct its course under better circumstances.
One of Capcom’s more recent and successful IPs, Dead Rising capitalized on the zombie craze taking place when it launched.
Blending the Zombie Outbreak archetype with zany mechanics like weapon crafting, a plethora of costumes and tongue-in-cheek storytelling, it managed to secure a sizable audience with its first entry and kept up the momentum with the release of Dead Rising 2 in 2010.
As time went on though, it began to fall into the pack of other zombie games on the market. in 2013, Dead Rising 3 went for a more serious tone compared to past entries, and was maligned by fans and critics alike. Dead Rising 4, meanwhile, returned to the series’ comical antics, but also did little to drive the series forward and set it apart from other games like past entries had.
They were all fixable issues though, and the series could have addressed them had in its next entry. Unfortunately, the franchise’s developer Capcom Vancouver was shut down in 2018, closing the book on the series as fans knew it, bringing its run to an unfortunate and lackluster end.
Duke Nukem’s return in the 2010s was one fans had been anticipating for years. After it happened though, most were ready to never see it return again.
An icon of gaming in the ’90s, Duke Nukem was the kind of macho shooter people couldn’t get enough of in its heyday. Its irreverent comedy, pop culture references and engaging first-person shooter action all put it a step above its competition.
And yet, the long awaited Duke Nukem Forever seemed like it would never see the light of day. It remained in development hell for over a decade, and even when it was revealed to be more than vaporware in 2007, it still took another four years before it was released.
Fans waited patiently for the game’s launch though, and when that time finally came on June 14, 2011, they were rewarded with disappointment.
Everything, from the gameplay to the writing, felt out of touch. It was like the game hadn’t been updated since its initial planning back in the ’90s, and its developers had made no effort to bring the series forward to help it compete with other games of the genre.
Fans and critics alike responded with dissatisfaction. The game garnered poor reviews from a slew of different outlets, and became a poster child for the dangers of not being able to let go of a project better left buried.
Forever’s poor sales numbers ensured the series wouldn’t see another entry any time soon, and no one has heard so much as a whisper of interest in the franchise since.
The Silent Hill franchise wasn’t in great shape going into the 2010s, but its decline still proved surprisingly heartbreaking for fans.
Following the dissolving of its original development team, Team Silent, the series saw a gradual shift downward in quality. Both its mainline and spin-off titles saw middling receptions, with many calling out how the series was gradually shifting toward action instead of the horror which had made it a household name.
There were brief glimmers of hope here and there. 2012’s Silent Hill: Downpour, while technically flawed and lacking in its aesthetic design, showed flickers of the original series greatness. Overall though, fans were left hoping for a miracle that would bring the series back on track.
And they nearly got one: In 2014, Hideo Kojima released his Playable Teaser, better known as P.T.,which teased that he was working on a reboot of the franchise with talents in horror like Guillermo del Toro and Junji Ito.
Within a year though, the game was cancelled following Kojima’s departure from publisher Konami. The news crushed fans, and with no news of a replacement project since, most everyone has been left to assume the franchise is dead and buried.
To Guitar Hero’s credit, the franchise lasted far longer than anyone ever expected it to.
While it was hailed as an exceptional idea with the release of its first title in 2005, the series quickly burned out its fan base with regular releases in the following five years. They failed to set themselves apart from the flood of other music games on the market, and when paired with the lack of a way to access the collective base of songs from across the series, many were ready for a break going into the 2010s.
Which they got, until Guitar Hero Live was released in 2015. Like past games, it allowed players to play through renditions of their favorite songs, strumming and pressing along on a guitar peripheral designed for the latest line of home consoles.
The game was well received enough by fans and critics, but fell short of publisher Activisions sales expectations. Part of this was due to the long absence between releases, but an even bigger factor was that the music game craze had died off. People weren’t as ravenous for them as they’d once been, and in turn weren’t turning out in droves to pick up the game like they once had.
Two years later, the game’s online services went dark, and the series has since been left to fade away into the pages of gaming history.
The Killzone franchise’s end in the 2010s was one brought on less by a string of failures, and more by Guerilla Games’ finding a more lucrative IP to work with.
Since its inception in the early 2000s, Killzone was the kind of shooter that rode the line of mediocrity. Granted it had moments: Killzone 2 was hailed for its graphics and refined gameplay, and later entries were applauded for experimenting with new gameplay gimmicks. Overall though, it always lied squarely in the middle of the pack of first-person shooter series.
The series kept up this trend going into the 2010s too. The release of Killzone 3 in 2011 was met with generally positive reviews, as was Killzone Shadowfall when it was released as a PlayStation 4 launch title. However, both titles never raised their heads from the sea of other shooters, and many forgot about them soon after their release.
It’s little surprise, then, that since the series’ developer Guerilla Games found widespread critical and commercial success with their new IP, Horizon: Zero Dawn, no one’s seen any trace of the Killzone series getting a new installment.
It’s a bit sad, but on the plus side, the franchise got to go out without ever seeing a decided dip in quality or a tragic end before its time, like with the next entry on this list.
Skate was, and always will be, a series that deserved better.
A skateboarding game franchise helmed by EA Blackbox and published by EA proper, the series was the company’s answer to the Tony Hawk’s games. And it was a good answer too: The games were heralded as having some of the best potential in the genre, and showed notable progress with the release of each new entry.
Skate 3’s release in 2010 continued this trend, bringing the series forward in some notable ways even if it still had some work to do in terms of online capabilities. It was what many fans hoped would be the first step on a long and fruitful journey through the decade, with plenty of new entries to bring it further forward into greatness.
And yet, a new entry never came.
It may have been because of Skateboarding’s fall out of the public consciousness; or, it could have been a result of EA Blackbox’s restructuring and closure in 2013.
Regardless of the cause, the end result was the same. Skate faded away unceremoniously, leaving fans to wait and wish for another entry in the series well into the end of the decade.
Much like Silent Hill’s downfall, Metal Gear’s decline was one mired in Kojima’s split from Konami and all the more painful to watch as a result.
For the first half of the 2010s, the series helmed by Hideo Kojima was enjoying a second wind. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker’s release in 2010 set the series up for a new prequel arc exploring Big Boss’ exploits, while Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance opened up the opportunity for a plethora of hack and slash spin-offs.
That’s to say nothing of Metal Gear Solid V. While it was split up rather bafflingly into the glorified demo Ground Zeroes – released in 2014 – and the main title, The Phantom Pain, people were still excited to see a new mainline entry in the series, let alone another experience helmed by Kojima.
And yet, trouble brewed below the surface during the game’s development. News of tensions between Kojima and Konami emerged before The Phantom Pain’s release in 2015, with several signs that the two would part ways sooner rather than later.
And they did: A few months after Metal Gear Solid V’s release, Kojima officially split from Konami, transitioning Kojima Productions as an independent studio in the process.
Which brings us to Metal Gear. Though Kojima was and is still associated heavily with the series’ success, Konami pushed out a new spin-off title in the franchise in 2018. The result was disastrous, garnering some of the worst reception critically and commercially in the series’ history.
It was sad to see, and going into the new decade, it’s safe to say more than a few fans are hoping Konami lets the series die before more damage is done to its good name.