For a while now, shared universes have been all the rage in popular culture. Even when produced by distinct production firms, TV series and films frequently operate within a franchise of related works that share characters, plotlines, and themes.
Given the lower production and licencing expenses for gaming compared to TV and film, you'd assume that the Marvel and DC universes would have gained popularity there first. It hasn't, which is surprising, but it would be better for game makers if it did.
What Is a Shared Game Universe?
There are surprisingly few shared game universes available, despite the fact that you're probably aware with crossover titles like Kingdom Hearts. So what precisely are we talking about here?
Multiple game brands, whether or not they were created by the same production firm, can coexist in a common continuity or canon known as a shared game world. Characters and storylines jump from one series to the next while still being the same version because the events of one franchise have already occurred in another.
Imagine that Spider-Man and Iron Man became franchises. As you can see, they both had their characters and movie plots take place in the MCU's broad "universe."
For its franchises of Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, and Watchdogs, Ubisoft provides Easter Eggs of each, but there isn't really an overt, palpable sense of a linked gaming universe.
The widespread use of shared game universes could be extremely advantageous to game producers for a variety of reasons.
1. Greater Storytelling Potential
An arc could be constructed by developers in a shared gaming universe. There are many single-player games with fantastic, extensive storylines, but what if you took it a step further and had stories from several franchises take place in the same universe and contribute to a larger theme? That has long served as Hollywood's (successful) model.
storylines with a slower pace that spectators will certainly enjoy as long as the fighting is strong. Additionally, it means that since video game campaigns are getting shorter on average, creators may still create a lengthy narrative without having to forgo important plot points to meet the story's length requirements.
2. Cross-Pollination of Audiences
Fans enjoy it when the same video game characters appear in many games because it allows characters to keep growing. Anything that promotes character development is good because it is crucial in video games for a variety of reasons. After years of seeing the individual MCU films and catching glimpses of well-known characters in cameos, you probably still remember the excitement of seeing The Avengers.
If it were done in video games, it would be the same. Imagine having to capture Desmond Miles from Assassin's Creed in a Watchdogs mission, or having the Marvel's The Avengers events take place concurrently with Insomniac's Spider-Man. If game franchises connect in this way, it's beneficial for fans all around.
3. The Audience Is Primed for a Shared Game Universe
If you keep up with the most recent films and TV shows, you've been prepared for this type of format in video games for years. This has been the model for mainstream media for years: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Arrow Shared Universe, and DC Cinematic Universe (if that counts).
The audience for your games wouldn't exactly be shocked by the phenomenon becoming commonplace in gaming. They probably already know about the idea, and there are usually fan fictions or films of video game characters getting together, so there is obviously a market for it.
4. A Shared Gaming Universe Makes Better Use of Assets
You could reuse game assets much more wisely in a shared game universe. Consider having to design a certain species for a game that is set on an extraterrestrial planet in the future. You could just use that if your game took place in the same sci-fi realm as another game that included an alien animal.
As a result, you would avoid spending the time and money necessary to create a brand-new item from scratch. Reusing assets so easily could significantly help video game businesses' financial situation given the increasing costs facing the gaming industry.
5. Shared Game Universes Would Maintain Interest
Audiences are accustomed to having to provide a certain level of "buy-in" to a series because to the shared universe mania in both television and film. They anticipate lengthier narrative arcs and the creation of fictitious worlds. This kind of sustained enthusiasm in a video game series would be advantageous to everyone.
It makes sure audiences are interested in what you're doing, which elevates the importance of what you're doing and lessens some of the strain associated with a brand-new IP. Further investor interest results from seeing a long-term money maker as a result. This may result in increased resources, improved infrastructure, and overall development.
6. It Encourages Collaboration
With a shared game universe, you are encouraged to collaborate more with other developers; both internal to your team and external.
This takes some pressure off, making the game development process a more social, teamwork-orientated process. So long as everything is managed effectively, this can bring out the best in everyone and lead to richer, higher-quality video games.
7. Shared Game Universes Are a More Lucrative Business Model
Shared game universes are a more successful economic strategy, as can be shown by the popularity of the MCU. Due to their familiarity, fans are more likely to support brands with common universes. However, it is also clear from data on subscription model growth that audiences prefer longevity. Audiences remain around for something that appears to be timeless, despite the fact that PS5 and Xbox Series titles are more expensive than those from earlier generations.
It would be ideal for developers if more video game franchises adopted a shared game universe because a more successful economic model means a lot less chaotic pressure, more work stability, and more job confidence.