A good thing can't always last forever. It's the sad truth that we all have to face one day. Video game franchises are no exceptions to this rule. A franchise could revolutionize an entire genre and yet become but a shell of its former self. Sometimes they'll deteriorate slowly until they slowly fade into obscurity. An example of a series like this would be the Def Jam series of video games. It was once a big deal to a lot of people before just seemingly disappearing after lackluster entries. However, some video game franchises would keep on trucking far past their primes. This would lead to games that were once the "must haves" becoming ignored by their former fans. In some cases, fans of the series would turn on them, their love for the game turning into hatred.
It's a sad tale when video game franchise we once loved takes a turn for the worst. These series make us hope they take a break and figure out where things went wrong and come back stronger and better than ever. There may be a spark of brilliance that occurs every once in a while for these kind of video games, but more often than not they fall right back down the wrong track by being too hasty to get back on top. The following video game franchises were once some of the biggest games out there, but something happened as the series progressed and the quality would stop moving forward (and in some cases fall backwards). Without further ado, it's time to cover 20 of the biggest video game series that have fallen from grace.
20 Call Of Duty
Call of Duty is arguably the most famous game to lose its spark and it's no surprise that it's on this list. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare completely changed the FPS genre and is without a doubt one of the most influential video games in modern gaming history. At its core, Call of Duty is a fast-paced shooter that back in its prime had everyone playing it. It was very accessible and easy to pick up with tons of game modes for all kinds to enjoy. Call of Duty's zombies game mode would also quickly become a fan favorite. However, Call of Duty's yearly release schedule has been harshly criticized, as well as the lack of innovation in its gameplay. The series took to future warfare and for many, it marked the end of what was once the most powerful FPS games in the market.
Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox showed gamers everywhere that the console first person shooter was here to stay. Before its release, it was still up for debate if a FPS game could ever be better than one made for PCs. Not only did Halo shut down the naysayers, it would improve in quality with the future installments in the original trilogy of games. With a compelling story, and as one of the reasons Xbox Live took off, Halo was a special game to many. However, with Halo: Reach, things began to take a turn for the worse, as it introduced mechanics that made it feel like a more traditional shooter rather than something unique like it once was. When Halo 5: Guardians came out, the once unique space shooter was gone, along with everything that made it unique.
18 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was the reason many kids wanted to be skaters in the first place. The games were very much like arcade games with various tasks to do in a level within a time limit. Its peak would be seen in Tony Hawk's Underground, which proved a sporting game could have a good story mode. The second (and last) of the Underground series would see the series use its old mechanics again and it worked quite well. Sadly, Tony Hawk games would go downhill... quite literally seen in Downhill Jam. It simplified the gameplay, as the series would stray away, then try to return, to how the first Underground played. This time around it would introduce buggy mechanics that were required to progress and less interesting, fun characters. The series has since failed to get back on track.
17 Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed is a video game series that started off poorly and blew up in quality before slowly falling back down. The first game was liked by some, but hated by many. Luckily for the series, the game's quality would improve vastly with the Ezio trilogy of games which included Assassin's Creed 2, Revelations, and Brotherhood. The games after this trilogy started to lose their charm and would divide fans of the games due to completely different mechanics being introduced. The last straw for many would be Assassin's Creed Unity, which was filled with bugs that turned gamers away from the series for good. From there, the developers would take a break from the yearly releases to try and focus on improving on the issues the players had with the games. There may be light at the end of the tunnel for Assassin's Creed, but only time will tell.
16 Mario Party
Nintendo is by far one of the best video game developers and publishers out there, and there's not many bad games with "Nintendo" on the cover. The key words there being "not many." Even the giant that is Nintendo has a bad series in their mix that was once great. Of course, it's Mario Party. When the first few games came out on the Nintendo 64, they were THE party game to play and destroyed many friendships along the way. However, shortly after the jump from the Nintendo 64 games the quality of Mario Party would begin to fall with the fifth installment of the game as it began to stray away from the formula and focus more on gimmick boards. The nail in the coffin would be Mario Party 9 which introduced entirely different gameplay that was hated by the vast majority of fans.
15 Sonic The Hedgehog
Once consoles like the Nintendo 64 and the original PlayStation came out, many classic game series would make the jump from 2D to 3D. Some games would naturally fit into the 3D landscape such as Super Mario 64, but for Mario's former biggest competition, Sonic the Hedgehog's jump into 3D would be the death of the series. While fans did enjoy the Adventure series of Sonic games, entries after that were more often than not hated. Games like Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog would be shunned by the general gamer crowd and fans alike. While Sonic had a few good entires during this timeframe, such as Generations, games like Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Boom would have many painting the series as un-saveable in the 3D realm.
14 Guitar Hero/Rock Band
The rhythm game craze would take over the market for a good while, with dreams of being a rockstar being fulfilled in the video game world. Guitar Hero and later Rock Band would come to dominate this genre and revolutionize it forever. However, constant releases from both game franchises would oversaturate the market it helped create, and the games would soon stop selling. It didn't help that the special controllers for Guitar Hero and Rock Band were essentially required to enjoy the game and cost hundreds of dollars for the full set. It appealed to many as a game to bust out at parties and have fun with friends, but the audience soon grew tired of the plastic instruments and would move onto other games, hanging up the music for good.
13 Mega Man
Capcom is no stranger to finding they have a huge hit on their hands. This isn't always a good quality for them, as they have a bad habit of rolling with an idea that's stuck until it's completely drained out. Mega Man is the prime example of a series like this. The original series of games for the Nintendo Entertainment System would release yearly, and after Mega Man 4 the series began to grow stale. Gone were the challenging obstacles, replaced by pure guessing games that lack real, fair challenges. It wouldn't be until 2008's Mega Man 9 that the franchise would return to its former glory, only for Mega Man 10 to serve as a reminder Capcom hadn't learned their lesson from all those years ago.
12 Star Fox
Star Fox 64 is widely considered one of the best games on the Nintendo 64, and for good reason. The characters were fun; who doesn't like talking animals, after all? It was smooth and fluid, and very easy to pick up and play. The dialogue was also incredibly memorable as well. Sadly, Star Fox 64 would be the last good, true Star Fox game. While Star Fox: Adventures would be enjoyable, it simply did not feel like a real Star Fox game and felt more like a Zelda one. Assault and Command would be just as disliked, while Star Fox: Zero would be the closest the franchise came to returning to its former glory and yet still fell flat to many. The furry space crew has yet to climb back on top.
Quake was by far one of the most important games in the FPS genre. It was super competitive, fun, and the prime example of easy to play, hard to master. It was hard to come by a PC that didn't have Quake installed on it. The beloved game for many would start to make a turn for the worst and soon fade into obscurity. With the release of Quake 4, the game franchise was marked for death. Games after the release of Quake 4 would fail to catch on, such as Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and the upcoming Quake Champions has yet to catch the interest of the masses. The Quake franchise has to yet to return to how things were when Quake III Arena was the FPS game to play.
10 James Bond
The Nintendo 64 was by far the biggest console when it came to "Couch Co-op/Local Multiplayer." The Nintendo 64 is the reason why four controller ports became the standard for future consoles. One of the reasons for this was the vast library of fun games that utilized all the players it could. One of the first console multiplayer FPS games would start on the system: GoldenEye 007. The game quickly became a fan favorite and would be beloved by all who played it. However, the James Bond series of games would never reach the peak it once reached with GoldenEye 007, and the remake of the game would fail to capture the charm of what the Nintendo 64 version had and as such, never quite got back on track after GoldenEye.
9 Duke Nukem
Duke Nukem is one of video gaming's most beloved characters. He was witty with an attitude and the embodiment of 80s action movie clichés, and we all loved him for it. The franchise would peak with the third installment of the series, Duke Nukem 3D. None of the entries after this would ever reach the levels that 3D set as the standard. After lackluster entries in the late 90s and early 2000s such as Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes, the series would die off. Duke Nukem Forever would end up falling into development limbo. It wouldn't be until almost 10 years later that it would see the light of day, only for the hype built around it to be all for nothing and we were left with another mediocre Duke Nukem game.
8 Paper Mario
One of the things that Nintendo has always failed to capitalize outside of Fire Emblem is the RPG genre. The odd part is that they've proved they can make a great one with Paper Mario. However, Paper Mario itself would end up going off the rails, and barely resemble an RPG game at times. With the Wii's Super Paper Mario, it traded RPG elements in favor of platformer ones, and Sticker Star would be generally hated for the odd attack mechanics it introduced into the fighting of the games. Color Splash would fix a handful of the issues present in Sticker Star, but the series has yet to return to the glory it once held with The Thousand Year Door. The series seems to be on the right track, and time will tell if it can turn itself around.
Castlevania was a series that tried something new in one of the entries that would lead to the series taking a turn for the worse. The original games for the earlier 8 and 16-bit consoles were some of the hardest games on the market, and were both incredibly fun with a great soundtrack. On the original PlayStation, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night would change the formula for good as it introduced Metroid-style gameplay. While Symphony of the Night was a game loved by many, the series would go off the rails and lose the charm it once held. The games would turn into pure back-tracking and lose the interesting characters that once occupied the games. Castlevania may have hope yet, with a new game sure to be on the rise after the runaway success of the television show of the same name.
6 Resident Evil
A series that Capcom ended up running into the ground would be Resident Evil. The classic horror games were loved by all who played them, and the most popular among fans of the games is Resident Evil 4 by far. This entry to the series introduced more action oriented gameplay to compliment the horror parts; however, Capcom saw that its players liked the action aspects. As such, Resident Evil 5 was more of an action, over-the-shoulder shooter instead of a horror game. Resident Evil 6 would be panned by fans and critics alike and the franchise would fall silent for some time. Luckily for Capcom and fans of Resident Evil, the seventh installment of the game would return to its roots. Unluckily, as Capcom has shown with Mega Man, they might be too hasty to get back in the game.
Diablo at one point was one of the biggest MMO games on the market. It was incredibly easy to pick up and learn as well as being super addictive. You could wake up and start playing and not turn it off until you were getting ready to sleep. The dungeon crawler MMO would be one of Blizzard's most beloved games, however the franchise took a turn for the worse with the release of Diablo III. The game became more of a "grind fest" without any substance, instead of a game to play in your spare time. For many, this was not the turn that fans of Diablo wanted and they dropped the game shortly after completing the story. Perhaps expansions to the game could save the game yet.
4 Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing games are ones that can be described by many as a "game that shouldn't be fun but is." At its core, Animal Crossing is a slice of life simulator of someone who simply lives in town with talking animals. It's cute, it's charming, and it's one of Nintendo's most prized franchises. However, after the release of New Leaf, things started to get weird. The 3DS would receive another entry into the series with the release of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. It introduced an entirely new house decorating mechanic, but the entire game quickly grew stale. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival would be as simple as a dice rolling simulator and fail to please fans of the games. There's yet to be an Animal Crossing that uses the mechanics we love since 2012.
Fable is a game with a storied history of broken promises and fans expecting too much. Regardless, the first entries to the series are generally enjoyed by gamers. They were fun with interesting quests and characters. The RPG would introduce modern gamers to the genre and many would fall in love with it. With Fable III, things began to take a turn for the worse. The game lost the mass appeal it once had, and afterwards the release of traditional Fable games would cease. This would lead to completely ignored entires to the franchise such as Fable Coin Golf and Fable Heroes. The series has reached a point where the odd and lackluster spin-off games have become the franchise itself, with the last RPG Fable being released in 2010.
2 Mass Effect
Mass Effect was BioWare's biggest hit since Knights of the Old Republic. It quickly blew up in popularity and was the talk of the town for a while. It was open-ended and the choices of the player would effect the way the events of the game would occur. However, Mass Effect 3 was the start of people getting turned off of the franchise. Its ending was harshly criticized by many and would end up being patched by the developers. With Mass Effect: Andromeda, players found themselves with a game was riddled with bugs that showed it was lazily put together and rushed which led to many turning on the series they once loved. With EA pulling the strings, it's unlikely if Mass Effect will ever return to its former glory.
1 Gears Of War
Gears of War proved that the Xbox could have more than just one exclusive that consumers would love. The first two were greatly beloved, even if they had small issues that were addressed in the later installments. However, with Gears of War 3, the balance was thrown out of proportion. Later entries into the franchise felt like cheap cash grabs. Gears of War: Judgment was completely ignored by many, and Gears of War 4 failed to catch on and grow as big as the original trilogy was. Without the series creator Cliff Bleszinski, Gears of War has failed to blow up again and perhaps it's time to retire the Gears of War series for good, now that it's showed that it can't survive alongside the other heavy hitters without its former frontman.