New consoles are coming and that's going to mean the end of several high-profile game franchises.
The transition to new consoles is, I expect, going to be especially jarring this time around. It won't be the first time that series and characters have been left behind (remember Spyro?) but considering the length of this hardware generation, and the rise of brand management it's heralded, seeing games like Gears of War and Uncharted fall by the wayside is going to be weird.
And they will fall by the wayside. For the first time ever, it feels like the reveal of a new Halo game has been met with a shrug by the gaming press. Halo 5, as trailed briefly in Microsoft's E3 keynote, has barely registered with magazines and websites, which have focused their coverage more on used games, the reboot of Killer Instinct and Ubisoft's The Division. If even Microsoft's flagship series isn't drawing the oohs and ahs anymore, where does that leave lesser series?
Looking at the Xbox first, Gears of War, without a doubt, is done for. It will likely return at some point in a few years, probably as a reboot simply called "Gears of War" without any numbers or subtitles. Until then, though, it's going quiet. Gears of War: Judgment, a critical and commercial damp squib compared to the rest of the series, has finished it off. People are happy, I think, to live without more Gears of War.
Same goes for Halo. It's an awkward position for Microsoft to be in, having only recently set up 343 Industries to handle the Halo series specifically, but sooner or later, the franchise will be retired regardless. Like with Gears, interest started to flag when the original creator jumped ship. In Gears' case, it was Cliff Bleszinski leaving Epic Games last October; in Halo's, it was the whole Bungie team moving on to make Destiny. As I said at the start, brand management this generation has been fundamental, with books based on games, merchandise and even TV shows gaining more prominence than ever. But with that comes the potential for backlash; you spend so long promoting a brand like Halo that your fans become die-hard, and die-hard fans are unaccepting of change. Because development of Halo has been passed to 343, it's likely, I'd say, the series will begin to lose fans and eventually be sidelined by Microsoft. I don't think the next Xbox - Xbox Two - will launch alongside a new Halo.
Forza will survive or at least, Turn 10 will continue making racing games for Microsoft. The label might change, but as long as people want driving games (which they always will) Microsoft has a good franchise in Forza that I can't see disappearing.
Fable's more interesting. An HD remake is in the pipeline, though that's set for the 360, not the One. Fable IV is also rumoured to be on the way, but whether that will cement the franchise's place on the next Xbox is unclear. Like Halo (and, I imagine, Dead Rising) Fable might be a series that has one outing on next-gen before quietly retiring. This happened with Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider on the PS2, two solid franchises from the last generation over that never really hit it off with the new tech. There may be more than one Fable game on the Xbox One, more than one Halo and Dead Rising, but I doubt they'll be given the same prominence as on 360. Like with their hardware, people like fresh. If these big franchises don't die completely, they'll be passed off to lesser developers and quietly continued as smaller releases.
And I think on PlayStation it's going to be even more brutal. Uncharted is finished for certain. Naughty Dog has a neat trilogy with that series, as well as a very promising new IP with The Last of Us (though here's hoping it never gets a sequel, because it doesn't need one.) I don't see any more Uncharted games.
Nor any more Resistance games. Again, it's a case of a studio, in this case Insomniac, already having a tidy three console games under its belt and now moving on to different things. As well as that, the exclusivity deal Insomniac had with Sony is off; it's now working on Sunset Overdrive for Xbox. That leaves very few reasons to believe more Resistance is coming, ever.
LittleBigPlanet might return, though. That strange whatever-it-was Media Molecule had at the PS4 launch in February might be the start of a new franchise, or it might just be a glimpse of a new LBP. If Sony needs a game to promote its new social functions and all that stuff, then a tested franchise like LittleBigPlanet would do the trick. I think we may see a few more of those games yet.
God of War is done, though. Like Gears of War (GoW and GoW) the most recent one, Ascension, got little love from consumers and reviewers. People aren't interested anymore, so, I think it'll be quietly retired.
It's only Killzone, I think that has the potential to keep going. That's a series that never really hit its stride; people have always thought it was good, but it's never been a big, big hitter in the way Halo or Gears has. I don't think the fatigue has sent in around Killzone just because, in a marketing sense at least, it's always been a bit quiet. It's a franchise that could continue for a while.
Generally, though, both console makers are going to be chucking out a lot of stock. Consumers have gotten wise to sequels - everyone wants new things to play. A lot of franchises are going to be killed off over the next three years and though it's tough to say exactly which, it's exciting at least to think of what might be coming up the rear to replace them.