What’s In a Name?

Sometimes branding a game with a the name of a franchise brings nothing but trouble.

There are quite a few games that might have been better received if they chose another name.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest actually holds a place in my heart. Its less full of nonsense than most Final Fantasy games, and its development heritage harkens back to the strange little SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend games.

Its actually one of the earlier Final Fantasy games I actually was into, and the little touches of how you would use your weapons and tools to interact with the environment outside of battle were neat. The game simply had character.

Ultimately it was simpler than the typical FF fare, and it received flak for that. If it was labeled with another name, but given attention it might have fared a bit better, since I doubt I would have been happy to pay 40 USD for it on release.

Ridge Racer:Unbounded is definitely  in this category. Unbounded is not a Ridge Racer game, and though it does look interesting, I’m sure its lost some sales already for that. While I understand that Namco is trying to use a recognizable brand to bring attention to the game, they’ve pulled the same split that the Need For Speed games have done. Splitting off into two different styles of racing does nothing but confuse the average uneducated consumer and makes it confusing still for those who the brand has been largely associated with particular mechanics and style.

Arguably, the Ridge Racer name only means something to those who grew up with it during the PS1/2 era, being mostly absent from this generation. Ridge Racer means nothing to the typical peruser, and for those who do know it but don’t have time to keep up with the latest news, they’ll be disappointed to find that a series they love has moved in another direction.

Similarly, I’d say there may have been a bit less backlash at Dragon Age II if simply they dropped the “II” and simply subtitled it like the other games, making it clear that it was using DA:Origins as a jumping off point and moving in another direction.

Games are becoming more connected, and the line between players, developers, and publishers is becoming more pronounced. The smallest details matter.

A name is more than a brand, but an idea, tied to the spirit of what has become set in the community’s collective consciousness. Choose it well.

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