2012 Gaming Nexus IP Draft: Rounds 1 & 2

2012 Gaming Nexus IP Draft: Rounds 1 & 2

Written by Jeremy Duff on 5/1/2012 for 360   PC  

If you were in charge of our own gaming company and had a chance to‭ “‬draft‭” ‬your favorite games and series,‭ ‬who would you take‭? ‬Better yet,‭ ‬if you did get control of some of these storied franchises,‭ ‬what would you do with them‭? ‬Recently,‭ ‬a group of us on the Gaming Nexus staff decided to answer those exact questions.‭ ‬Welcome to the‭ ‬2012‭ ‬Gaming Nexus IP Draft‭!

Eight staff members from the site volunteered to participate in this little experiment.‭ ‬The premise is simple:‭ ‬all of the participant names were entered into a random list generator at Random.org and a draft order was generated.‭ ‬We then ran through‭ ‬5‭ ‬separate rounds,‭ ‬reversing the draft‭ ‬order each round‭ (‬commonly referred to as a‭ “‬snake draft‭")‬.‭ ‬We agreed to select one existing series from the video game industry in each round and give an explanation of both why we picked it and what we planned on doing with it‭ (‬hypothetically speaking‭)‬.‭

In addition to our own explanations,‭ ‬we would also be open to‭ ‬hearing the criticism,‭ ‬comments,‭ ‬ridicule,‭ ‬and perhaps even praise,‭ ‬from our fellow participants.‭ ‬Once everything was said and done we decided to put it all together in an organized manner and share the results‭ (‬and ensuing hilarity‭) ‬with the world.‭ ‬Let’s get things started with rounds‭ ‬1‭ ‬and‭ ‬2:


Developer(s): Square Enix
Publisher(s): Square Enix
First release: Final Fantasy (1987, Nintendo Entertainment System)
Latest Release: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012, Nintendo 3DS)

I knew this pick would draw heat and raise some eyebrows‭; ‬this was a half-numbers pick/half-heart pick,‭ ‬and I do admit that it was‭ ‬high.‭ ‬Final Fantasy was,‭ ‬and has always been,‭ ‬the series that I locked onto year in and year out.‭  ‬As for the numbers,‭ ‬the sales are there with over‭ ‬100‭ ‬million units sold over several systems that include the NES,‭ ‬SNES,‭ ‬Game Boy,‭ ‬Game Boy Advance,‭ ‬Nintendo DS,‭ ‬Playstation,‭ ‬PS2,‭ ‬PS3,‭ ‬Xbox‭ ‬360,‭ ‬and Wii.‭  

This is a unique series where you can basically do a different style with each title,‭ ‬giving you the chance to truly build a unique game at every chance.‭  ‬I could go one route and give past fans of the series what they have wanted,‭ ‬such as a FF7‭ ‬reboot on PS3/360,‭ ‬or listen to modern fans and changing the style to more suit today’s tastes.‭ ‬The possibilities are truly endless.‭ ‬Did I reach with this‭?  ‬Absolutely.‭ ‬Still,‭ ‬the justification is there for one of the most recognizable series of all time.


Nathaniel Cohen:‭ ‬Aside from being the first videogame I ever heard a non-geek girl talk about playing,‭ ‬I've never put a lot of thought into the Final Fantasy franchise.‭ ‬It always seemed to be a game intended for some audience other than me.‭ ‬Sales and huge numbers of copies floating around the various early consoles don't mean much to me today.‭ ‬Honestly,‭ ‬its reputation seems kind of tarnished now.‭ ‬How it's worth the number one pick in the draft is beyond me.‭ ‬Hey,‭ ‬it takes all kinds,‭ ‬right‭?

Jeremy Duff:‭ ‬I understand being a huge fan of a series,‭ ‬but I can't imagine choosing this as the number‭ ‬1‭ ‬overall selection.‭ ‬Of all the choices you had in this industry,‭ ‬you took Final Fantasy‭?! ‬Part of drafting is knowing your competition,‭ ‬and there isn’t anyone in this draft that would have taken Final Fantasy aside from Cahill,‭ ‬so he could have gotten this in the final round,‭ ‬easily.

Charles Husemann: Final Fantasy as the overall #1 pick?  I didn't realize Mike Brown was running a development studio now.  Sure the franchise was great a decade ago but now they've managed to dilute the brand with constant, non-sensical releases that don't appeal to anyone outside the core fan base.  Go ahead and explain what XIII-2 is to your mother.

Travis Huinker:‭ ‬Final Fantasy needs to take a‭ ‬5-year break from releasing new games and reevaluate the purpose behind the series,‭ ‬hopefully that is what Sean intends to do.‭ ‬A series once known for high-quality RPGs has transformed into linear experiences that have removed all the complexity and wonder of past titles.

Dan Keener:‭ ‬First rule of fight club...‭ ‬I mean first rule of drafting,‭ ‬is pick with your head,‭ ‬not your heart.‭ ‬While Final Fantasy is definitely worthy of a pick in this draft and probably even in the first round,‭ ‬I just cannot see it as the first overall pick.‭ ‬While the franchise has sold over‭ ‬100‭ ‬million units collectively in its‭ ‬24‭ ‬year history and had strong support and ratings on the PlayStation One and PS2‭ ‬systems,‭ ‬it’s star has faded a‭ ‬bit in the recent console era.


Developer(s): Nintendo
Publisher(s): Nintendo
First release: Super Mario Bros. (1985, Nintendo Entertainment System)
Latest Release: Super Mario 3D Land (2011, Nintendo 3DS)

Mario is such an easy pick in the first round.‭ ‬Just having his name on most of the games out there sells and what I want as my first pick would be an IP that would give me a consistent revenue stream.‭ ‬I'd probably mix in a few experiments with the characters such as moving them into different genres of games just to see if one sticks.‭ ‬I'd continue to offer up the updated side-scroller and‭ ‬3D adventure games with improvements as well.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬like I said I'd branch off into a few new areas just to see if I can draw in a new crowd or produce something that I can run with in a different setting.


Sean Cahill:‭ ‬This should have been the number one pick.‭ ‬It is no shock that this is the one franchise that can basically spin off any number of different titles and still make money.‭  ‬Nintendo could market dirt with Mario and still turn a profit‭ (‬though that may not be true with the losses that Nintendo took this past year‭)‬.‭  ‬Fans of all ages will flock to just about any Mario title the moment it comes out,‭ ‬though the new generation of gamer that is in love with FPS titles may not be as willing to try a platformer nowadays,‭ ‬which is a sad time for us in this industry.

Nathaniel Cohen:‭ ‬I don't think it rates a number‭ ‬2‭ ‬pick‭ (‬or number‭ ‬1‭)‬.‭ ‬Give me something I didn't lose interest in high school‭! ‬I guess maybe you're still in the running to snag the attention of children as my‭ ‬6‭ ‬year old loves Mario.‭ ‬Children do have the amazing ability to hammer their parents into buying crap so it will always make money.‭  ‬Does that make it worth such a high pick,‭ ‬though‭?  ‬No.

Jeremy Duff:‭ ‬John can't go wrong with the Mario selection as there is just so much that you can do with that series and its characters.‭ ‬There really isn't any sort of genre limitations on the world of Mario and that opens up a ton of possibilities for future titles.‭ ‬I won't lie‭; ‬it was going to be my first pick.

Charles Husemann: Mario at number 2 is the "Nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM" pick of the draft.  It's safe and the one decision that no one can really ever argue with.

Dan Keener:‭ ‬This is the best pick in the draft,‭ ‬every video game related draft,‭ ‬and should always be taken number‭ ‬1.‭ ‬As long as we do not separate out any of the‭ ‬729‭ ‬different spin-offs‭ (‬Super Mario,‭ ‬Mario Kart,‭ ‬Olympics,‭ ‬etc.‭) ‬and allow the Mario brand to be rolled up into one never-ending pot of gold.‭


Developer(s): Infinity War, Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games, Raven Software (among others)
Publisher(s): Activision
First release: Call of Duty (2003, PC)
Latest Release: Call of Duty- Modern Warfare 3 (2011, multi-platform)

It has become a fact of life that each year a new Call of Duty game will be released that it will be bought regardless of its content or title.‭ ‬Call of Duty is the Madden of the FPS genre.‭ ‬The series is running out of steam and needs a huge revival to remain the king of online shooters.‭ ‬I will further promote the Call of Duty Elite service and start development on innovative titles in the Call of Duty franchise that simply aren't more collections of multiplayer maps and perks.‭ ‬So what is the next logical step for the Call of Duty series‭? ‬I'm excited to announce as an exclusive here:‭ ‬Call of Duty:‭ ‬Modern Space Warfare.


Sean Cahill:‭ ‬CoD is the most well-known FPS out there right now and is a straight up money machine.‭ ‬The challenge here would be to be able to add wrinkles into future titles that make the series fresh and still doesn't make it seem like a re-hash.

Nathaniel Cohen:‭ ‬Now we're getting into serious picks‭! ‬Call of Duty is an obvious juggernaut that,‭ ‬unlike the first two picks,‭ ‬is relevant today.‭ ‬Call of Duty‭ ‬2‭ ‬was amazing and even though I haven't enjoyed any other release as much as that one,‭ ‬I just can't deny the power of anything that can snag such Hollywood luminaries as Rob Riggle and Jonah Hill to star in their commercials that have budgets bigger than the GDP of several African nations combined.

Dan Keener: The funny thing is that five years ago, not one single person took the Call of Duty franchise through all 36 picks of the original draft. I guess that's what happens when you let Treyarch follow up the development of one of the best first generation Xbox 360 titles prior to our draft. Regardless, five years and 100+ million unit sales and counting, I think Travis grabbed himself a golden goose here at pick #3 and likely would have been one of the choices I would have pondered if I had the same selection.


Developer(s): BioWare
Publisher(s): Micorosft Game Studios, Electronic Arts
First release: Mass Effect (2007, Xbox 360 and PC)
Latest Release: Mass Effect 3 (2012, multi-platform)

How this fell all the way to number four, I'll never understand: it's the Star Wars of gaming. I picked it simply because I love it and luckily, it's a heart pick the head can agree with. Despite the completely overblown and troll-driven controversy over the end, it's still the best non-competitive franchise out there right now.  It's a true epic, and maybe the very first one gaming has ever seen.  Hell, it's more epic than every science fiction film that has come out since arguably Star Wars.  No game or movie spans the whole galaxy while unifying it with a coherent and compelling backstory for every race, event, and piece of technology of note that's ever existed within its universe. Mass Effect has so much potential to branch out into other genres like Mario but for adults.

If I had my way with the Mass Effect franchise I would make a game starring Garrus Vakarian, and set during his time on Omega as a vigilante under the name Archangel, with an Arkham City-style third-person perspective and fully exploratory overworld with side missions and maybe even driveable vehicles.  Since he had a squad of twelve, I'd give each mission a tactical element that would present many different ways to accomplish your goal with many different possible tasks for his squad to handle to make Garrus's shooting portion of the mission more survivable.  You could place snipers, plant explosives, disable security, hack computers, assassinate key targets, or cover your escape with heavy weapons.  I think a cool way to handle these mini mission would be like the assassin's guild in the Assassin's Creed games.  You pick a task, then select an individual or a whole team of operators from your squad of 12 to accomplish it.  You have a certain number of tasks you can perform before each mission but some won't affect anything, or could actually make things worse, and not matching the right operator to the right task would lead to that operator failing or even being captured or wounded and then not being available for a certain period of time.  Maybe, since we know very little about Garrus's squad from a canonical standpoint besides Sidonis, they could even be killed requiring Garrus to recruit a n00b replacement who will have a higher chance of failure.

But that's just one game.  From a practical standpoint, I'd have to make an MMO just to fund it.  However, I don't play MMOs and have no idea how to make a good one, so I'd just copy WoW and The Old Republic.  Or maybe I could just breath life back into the Mass Effect Battlefield clone that almost got made.  


Sean Cahill: I love the Mass Effect series. I just pray that you would take Bioware's crappy endings and actually give people some closure with that third title! The franchise certainly has the power to go through plenty of DLC and side titles. The only thing that worries me is I don’t see this franchise as one that doesn't have the staying power of other top franchises.

Travis Huinker: The Mass Effect franchise truly has great potential for expanding beyond an action third-person shooter and back into the complex RPG that we all loved. Let's hope that future titles explore more of the rich lore of the Mass Effect universe.

Dan Keener: I am completely on board with this pick, as the franchise has sold over 10 million units and climbing with Mass Effect 3's recent release. The franchise looks to have taken a foothold in areas (books, film, anime, comics) of the lucrative sci-fi underworld. In addition, it has already moved into the mobile gaming world on the iOS platform, something that is a must for the future of many IPs.


Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
First release: Mega Man (1987, Nintendo Entertainment System)
Latest Release: Mega Man 10 (2010, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network)

This will also wind up as my “heart on your sleeve” pick. Capcom is doing zilch with the blue bomber right now but there are still people making fan games, such as MegaPhilX's Mega Man Unlimited.  If I were to keep MM going, the first thing I would do is un-cancel Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe. Universe had the potential to be big with Mega Man fans, but it just seems that Capcom is distancing themselves from the series as a whole.


Sean Cahill: The challenge with Mega Man would be the debate on how to incorporate it into gaming today. Do you keep the Blue Bomber as a 2D side-scroller that is quickly downloadable from a digital marketplace or do you attempt to give it the full HD reboot and make a title that old gamers would love, yet able to draw in the new gamer?  Great series, but probably too high to be taken in the draft.

Nathaniel Cohen: This seems more like a vanity pick rather than a practical one.  How do you even make a Mega Man game relevant today? The only thing ever remarkable about it was it's difficulty and the cutting-edge-for-the-era way that you could attack bosses in any order, gain their special weapon, which may or may not give you an advantage over later bosses. Could you get away with making a game that hard today?  I seriously doubt it.

Dan Keener: This is about 15 places higher than it went back in 2007, but if Russell if happy with it, then who am I to complain? Besides, it pushes a top 5 IP to me with the next pick. The pick itself is worthy of our draft, but probably not round one.


Developer(s): Rockstar
Publisher(s): Rockstar
First release: Grand Theft Auto (1997, multi-platform)
Latest Release: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009, Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable)

Despite John taking a Christopher Columbus approach (reaching the New World and declaring it all for the Spanish Empire) to the Mario brand, I will let it slide this time. The reason being: Grand Theft Auto is just sitting there for the taking. With over 144 million units shipped to date, and with a guaranteed 15-20 million in unit sales for Grand Theft Auto V and it’s expansion packs on the horizon, this one is a no-brainer. I probably would have taken this at any pick after #1, as Rockstar improves this franchise dramatically every time a new game hits and keeps you longing for the next title by not flooding the market with a yearly watered down version (Guitar Hero anyone?).


Sean Cahill: I actually expected this to go higher than pick 6, and this was one that I certainly thought of taking with the top pick. Ever since the third title, this series has been on the main radar of the industry and did just fine with Vice City and San Andreas; no one can deny that GTA IV was one of the top games of the next-gen systems. It only means good things for this series moving forward.

Nathaniel Cohen: What is this doing at number 6? If someone had beat me to Mass Effect, I would have selected GTA. I don't think there is game franchise besides Call of Duty that affects all of pop-culture like GTA. There may not be much room for different kinds of GTA games, but the settings are infinite, and within each setting there is more interesting stuff to look at and do than even Mass Effect.

Travis Huinker: Just as with the Call of Duty franchise, nearly every gamer buys a Grand Theft Auto title because of their addictive sandbox nature. With the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V, the amount of possibilities for expanding the series beyond that are nearly endless.


Developer(s): Rovio Entertainment
Publisher(s): Chillingo, Rovio
First release: Angry Birds (2009, mobile platforms)
Latest Release: Angry Birds Space (2012, mobile platforms)

With millions upon millions of downloads already under their wing(s) (pun intended) the Angry Birds franchise really doesn’t require any introduction. This is the one series that proved to the world that mobile gaming was not only productive from a monetary standpoint, but that it was truly a contender in the gaming world as well.

I look at the Angry Birds franchise as the Mario of the new generation: there is just so much that you can do with it... endless possibilities. Rovio has done a good job at marketing a lot of products outside of the gaming world, from clothes to toys and school supplies. I wouldn’t really do anything too different than what we have seen from them in the real world except that I would make it my primary goal to make the franchise a presence on the home consoles. Add that to a bunch of new non-gaming products such as my Angry Birds cereal, movies, television shows (plural), and more and my hypothetical game company will be funded for pretty much any project that I want to undertake. Who knows, I may even look into the fringe science area of genetic mutation and see about bring these birds to life and selling them in pet stores.


Sean Cahill: There is no doubt that the industry is going through a change with the advent of smartphones and mobile gaming, but I have an issue with this one. Picking up my phone and going to the Android Marketplace: next to each one of them, the word "FREE" is bolded. My issue with this pick is that this is a game that is right now making its money solely on marketing and merchandising. Would you take away a free game from the people who download it and make them pay, or do you keep living off of its formula currently and stick with just the marketing/merchandising aspect to make your money?I don’t see the true staying power of Angry Birds that warrants a first round pick.

Nathaniel Cohen: Literally everyone on Earth has played Angry Birds. My kids asked for Angry Birds merchandise for Christmas, not the game mind you, because Santa doesn't need to bring it; in another year, they'll probably be putting codes to download it in cereal boxes. I'd say any videogame franchise whose merchandise rates higher on a wish list than the game itself is doing something right.

Travis Huinker: Angry Birds was a great pick because it usually remains at the top of every most purchased app list. Children to adults love the Angry Birds pick-up-and-play experience and future titles will only grow in popularity.

Charles Husemann: Angry Birds probably should have gone higher given that this franchise has quickly become Mario for the current generation.  

Dan Keener: Well, after Jeremy made this selection, those birds weren’t the only thing that was angry; I was strongly considering this as my second round pick. The #1 mobile gaming app of all time hasn’t even come close to hitting the saturation point and it has morphed into not just a game, but a cultural phenomenon. The only issue with this franchise is that about 500 million of the 512 million down loads were not paid for, so the revenue stream may be a bit suspect and at some point, the masses will tire of the franchise.


Developer(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s): Blizzard Entertainment
First release: Warcarft- Orcs & Humans (1994, PC)
Latest Release: World of Warcraft- Cataclysm (2010. PC)

As a publisher I need a recurring money stream that I can use to fund my riskier initiatives.  Something that drops money into my bank account on a monthly basis and will have spikes with expansion packs, so with my first round pick I'm going with the Warcraft franchise.  Not only do I get the steady stream of 13 million users monthly fees I also get the nice spikes for expansion packs 18-24 months. Of course if I really get hard up for cash I'm going to develop and release Warcraft IV which should sell a few million copies on the PC and a few million more on the console.


Sean Cahill: I was in a customer's house last week and they had a kid in the other room that was playing WoW. He obviously knew what he was doing with the game. I asked him if he had played any of the other Warcraft games and he said to me, "you mean the expansion packs?". You ever get a moment where you just want to launch a child out of a window?

Nathaniel Cohen: Yet another franchise that has no business being this low.  It may seem to be waning it popularity, but until something topples it definitively, it's on top. I don't know another game that breaks up relationships; that right there says all that needs to be said. This is one that is in need of a shot in the arm. WoW is still making money, but the game has been out for many years now and is definitely on the downswing. Unique and fresh ideas are going to be just the start of making sure Warcraft has a future.

Travis Huinker: With the huge money cow of World of Warcraft and room for future RTS titles, Warcraft was an excellent pick for the first round. Warcraft IV may be far away, but it will still be highly popular and successful when it's eventually announced and released.
 
Dan Keener: Warcraft appears to have lost some of its hype in the last couple of years. I mean, when was the last time you heard of some dummy running a 40 hour raid and ending up dropping dead in his chair due to lack of basic necessities? With a new expansion coming in 2012 with redesigned talent trees and a five-level expansion of the cap, you can expect the hype and stories of people blowing off, well, everything to return.  This is a great pick at #8 because of two words: CASH COW.


Developer(s): EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
First release: Battlefield 1942 (2002, PC)
Latest Release: Battlefield 3 (2011, multi-platform)

With the Call of Duty franchise off the table I decided to take Battlefield 3 because every publisher should have at least one big shooter in their portfolio and while Battlefield doesn't have a yearly iteration the series still draws in big numbers on the PC side.  Sure the single player portion of the game wasn't that great but the rest of the game is solid gold and the folks at DICE take actual risks with their game whereas the COD guys are fairly content to just tweak and enhance game play.


Jeremy Duff: This is the perfect 2nd round pick in my book. As crowded as the shooter genre is, someone has to step to the plate and oppose the CoD franchise. The biggest hurdle in establishing a true contender for that throne will be making a name for your franchise, and Battlefield has already done that. Chuck’s real challenge will be to set the series apart from CoD and bring some fresh ideas to the series which will give it an edge. Is realism enough?

Travis Huinker: Battlefield 3 wasn't able to dethrone Call of Duty, even with the inclusion of vehicles and destructible environments. In my opinion, the Battlefield series must provide multiplayer that includes accessible matchmaking to be successful in the FPS genre. Until then, gamers will stick with the more popular and easier to pick-up-and-play Call of Duty series.

Dan Keener: Chuck grabbed the franchise he thinks will be supplanting Call of Duty as gamers favorite FPS.  This is a great pick and right where I would expect it to be made.  No complaints from my end.


Developer(s): Traveller’s Tales
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive, Eidos Interactive (among others)
First release: LEGO Star Wars (2005, multi-platform)
Latest Release: LEGO Batman 2- DC Super Heroes (2012, multi-platform)

Talk about a license to print money! My thoughts with the LEGO franchise is based solely on the appeal of the products; Traveler’s Tales has done wonders with applying the LEGO concept to popular IP’s and I would continue to do that exact thing. The success of this pick will be based solely on strategic partnering with other IP’s. I would continue to seek out popular franchises from other media (cartoons, comics, and movies) and perhaps even look at re-imagining some classic video game franchises in the LEGO style. What about an action adventure based LEGO Final Fantasy VII? Plus, there needs to be a series of LEGO games that give you the freedom to create using the famous little blocks; what about a LEGO Kart Racer where you can build your own custom karts and tracks? Lookout ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet, Duff has some ideas that could take over your play, create, share genre.


Travis Huinker: Can I refuse to license those franchises to him? (sarcasm, or is it?)

    Jeremy’s response: I would consider remaking Final Fantasy VII in LEGO form... but     Cahill is going to have to pay me for the licensing rights to make
        his franchise relevant again.

Charles Husemann: Great pick as the series keeps going and LEGO Batman 2 looks fantastic and it looks like TT has found ways to evolve the gameplay a bit. 

Dan Keener: After the Mario franchise, the LEGO franchise has the most fingers dipped into other franchises pots.  Whether it is Rock Band, Prates of the Caribbean, Batman, etc., this franchise has the cross-over maneuver down to a ‘T’.  In addition, it has so many internal products available (Ninjago anyone?), that it will continue to be relevant for years to come.


Developer(s): Game Freak, Creatures Inc.
Publisher(s): Nintendo
First release: Pokemon Red  / Green (1998, Nintendo Gameboy)
Latest Release: Pokemon Black & White 2 (2012, Nintendo DS)

This choice in Round 2 wasn’t really as hard as I made it out to be.  The Pokémon franchise has a long history of selling very well, with over 215 million units sold as of 2012.  With three new games due out in 2012 (Pokémon Black 2, White 2 on DS and Poképark 2 on Wii), the franchises immediate future looks to be very strong.  Throw in the trading card portion of the game and all of the possibilities of Wii-U integration, and the franchise should be in really good shape for the next several years


Russell Archey: Pokemon: Yeah, I still play Pokemon and yes, I know why this was a second round pick. As long as new Pokemon games comes out, kids will buy them or get their parents to buy them. With Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 coming out at some point in the near future, I'm curious to see how many new Pokemon come aboard.

Jeremy Duff: I guess there is another IP I can cross off of my personal list. Sure, the Pokemon concept is a bit dated and definitely on the decline, but the success of the Skylanders franchise has opened up a door of opportunity that I would have dove through with the Pokemon license. Think of how many little plastic figures you could sell, especially in Japan, is the Pokemon series adopted the Skylanders concept. Money, money, money, money, money.


Developer(s): Square Enix
Publisher(s): Square Enix
First release: Kingdom Hearts (2002, Sony PlayStation)
Latest Release: Kingdom Hearts 3D- Dream Drop Distance (2012, Nintendo 3DS)

Also kind of a pick with the heart, but the Kingdom Hearts series has seemed to do well, though I haven't had a chance to go through many of the games, having only played a huge chunk of the original and Chain of Memories.  However, from what I've seen of Dream Drop Distance, it's looking to be one of the best games on the 3DS thus far.  Given that it's a Square game that's probably a safe bet.


Jeremy Duff: Russell, Russell, pick with your mind and not your heart! Square Enix has spent the last couple of years running this once-charming series into the ground... and I mean DEEP into the ground. It would take a lot of work to make this franchise relevant again.

Dan Keener: Russell seemed to grab another title with his heart instead of his head here in Rd2.  While the Kingdome Hearts franchise has tons of devoted fans, the game has slipped in recent years and has not really ever been a critical darling.  Hopefully Russell has a plan for it that includes making it a better overall game.


Developer(s): Volition, Inc.
Publisher(s): THQ
First release: Red Faction (2001, PlayStation 2)
Latest Release: Red Faction Armageddon (2011, multi-platform)

I picked it mainly because Red Faction: Guerrilla was a revelation that should have provided THQ and Volition with enough money and goodwill to do right by the franchise for the rest of time.  It had it all: an interesting open world, solid gunplay, fun vehicles, good graphics, very good multiplayer, including couch co-op that my family and I still play. And to top it off, it had that sweet procedural destruction engine unlike anything that's been seen before. So what does THQ do? They remove everything that made that game special and churn out a solid, yet incredibly disappointing third-person shooter. Sure, the destruction was still intact, but everything else about the game made it sickeningly forgettable. And for what reason? Was it money? Or was it something else, like the misplaced belief that open world games were a thing of the past, or did they really think that fans didn't like the open world format and couch co-op?

If had control of the franchise, I would simple go back and make a proper sequel to RF:G, an open world game set on the surface of Mars (not that some underground portions are out of the question) with a proper story and all the other logical changes open world sequels get. The game would stand on the procedural destruction engine because no one else has anything like it. Alternately, I would just license it out for use by other companies, and use the extra money to focus on making a game that would still be better than all the other procedural destruction games that would get made. THQ had an opportunity to give us GTA/Saints Row in space plus all that destruction, but didn't...


Jeremy Duff: Ooh, I thought for sure this was going to slip under most people’s radars and be waiting for me in the final round or two. This was another one of those series that was crafted with multiple genres in mind; Volition touched on a few, tackling both the open world and the 3rd person shooter, but there was life left in both those genres and others such as squad based shooters and more. It is truly a shame that this series was put to rest in real life.

Travis Huinker: Red Faction might be an early pick for the second round, but solid none the less. With the recent iteration of Armageddon, the series ditched the highly-praised open world feature of its previous title. Red Faction needs badly to expand its lore beyond Mars and keep working with the open world concept.

Charles Husemann: This would have been a great pick before Armageddon game out but that game has effectively put the franchise into deep freeze.  I would love to see Red Faction: Guerrilla 2 but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

Dan Keener: Nathan I thought reached a bit for Red Faction in round 2.  While the series as a whole has done decent through the years, it concerns me that THQ is on slippery footing and this franchise could get moth-balled or caught up in some legal drama for years to come if THQ does under.  So a decent pick, just way to high IMO.


Developer(s): Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher(s): Blizzard Entertainment
First release: Diablo (1996, PC)
Latest Release: Diablo III (2012, PC)

As a connoisseur of loot/hack-and-slash role-playing games, I'll have to go with the game series that invented their own genre: Diablo. With the upcoming release in May and plans for possible console ports, there is no doubt that it will sell loads and bring some much needed life back to the PC gaming realm. Add future expansions and micro transactions into the mix and it's a done deal.

In addition, I plan to create an entire table top Diablo series (think D&D) with miniature figures and all those goodies. Each set of figures, rule books, and starter guides will come with codes for special in-game loot for Diablo 3. Lastly, I will unveil an exclusive line of very limited plush series of the various monsters from the Diablo series. Diablo himself will be the most rare, of course.

Some criticized Diablo for being a second round pick, but they must remember that its the origin of the hack and slash genre. Before Diablo, there were no other games quite like it. With the huge interest in the upcoming Diablo 3 and possibilities for expanding the universe into a tabletop game, the Diablo franchise is just ripe for opportunity and making a great deal of profit.


Jeremy Duff: Branching out into other forms of gaming, such as tabletop, is definitely the way to go. Thankfully, you aren’t tied to specific characters or storylines with this IP, which gives you a lot of freedom.

Dan Keener: If there was pick made due to timing and buzz, this was it, and that isn’t a bad thing.  I was looking at it fro my next pick, but Travis grabbed it first and should have a great IP for now and the future.


Developer(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
First release: The Elder Scrolls- Arena (1994, PC)
Latest Release: The Elder Scrolls V- Skyrim (2011, multi-platform)

If (and when) I take control of the Elder Scrolls series, I'd definitely add a multiplayer component to the series but I don't want to turn it into a full fledged MMO. I would focus on a strong story, a solid open world experience, but allow a few friends to join in on the fun. I'd allow a persistent server to be used that would let in about five max players, but still keep the single player experience intact. Let the multiplayer component be a compliment to the series, not a requirement.


Jeremy Duff: I am not a huge Elder Scrolls fan, but I can’t deny the draw and success of the franchise. What used to be a niche-series has become the most popular RPG series in the industry thanks to the recent releases. John’s challenge here is improving on what many already consider to be perfect games.

Travis Huinker: With the entire continent of Tamriel available for future games, the Elder Scrolls franchise is a fantastic pick when considering the huge mainstream successes of Oblivion and Skyrim. The notion of downloadable content for Skyrim is also exciting considering the add-ons released for Fallout 3.

Dan Keener: This is the one pick that made me say “Damn!”  I debated taking this earlier in the round, and I knew that there was a 0% chance of it getting back to me, but you hate to see the best RPG franchise slip through your fingers.


Developer(s): Bungie, 343 Industries, Ensemble Studios (among others)
Publisher(s): Microsoft
First release: Halo (2001, Microsoft Xbox)
Latest Release: Halo 4 (2012, Xbox 360)

As for Halo, in the past, this would have been a first round pick easily.  However, it has lost some of its luster and is now about where it should be.  It's still a great selection and offers a futuristic FPS title for those to go towards who are not fans of CoD.  It still has staying power and can easily re-kindle its popularity.


Jeremy Duff: My how the times have changed! This would have been a first round pick in years past, but Master Chief and crew have dropped to the second round. I am seeing a common trend here: drafting IP’s with open universes ripe for exploration. Halo may be the king of that concept.

Travis Huinker: Halo 4 as the first game in a new trilogy of Halo titles will be the ultimate deciding factor if 343 Industries can replicate the "special touch" of Bungie. Fortunately, the Halo franchise can always continue to expand with new games and a wealth of other opportunities including novels, toys, apparel, and movies.

Dan Keener: Sean grabbed one of the all-time great shooters at the bottom of Rd 2.  I think this would have gone higher except the loss of Bungie and an overall tiring of the franchise leaves many questions that Halo 4 hopefully will answer.

About Author

If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, certified news monkey. I have been blogging on the industry for close to a decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die.

I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it... end of story.

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