Opinions

Opinion – Why a New Banjo Kazooie Game Won’t Sell Well

Speculation of a new Banjo Kazooie game coming to the Xbox One have been rampant to say the least since the platforms release. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has mentioned via Twitter that this year will be big for Rare. Rare has also tweeted that this year will be huge for them. Xbox has also stated that they want to bring back classic IPs such as Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and more. It seems like a perfect storm. Rumours this year point to a new Battle Toads game, but lets speak hypothetically if it were to be a new Banjo game, Banjo Kazooie 3 (or Banjo Threeie, to keep it consistent).  What made Banjo Kazooie so popular initially is that it revolutionized a genre. At the time, no other 3D platformer aside from Super Mario 64 was anything like it. It revolutionized the idea of collectibles. It had beautiful 3D graphics. It had game concepts and mechanics not known or underutilized to the industry. And we can’t forget how Rare was a gaming giant at the time as well, pushing sales.

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If a new Banjo game were to be released in modern times, it would need to do the exact same thing that the original did – revolutionize a genre. Right now, platformers are almost exclusively reserved for indie titles and Mario. Sony has its giant franchises, Uncharted and Infamous, incorporate platforming into their games, but at their core they are a sub-genre of the game. A core platformer market has a hole, especially in Microsoft’s game portfolio. It can be filled by a Banjo game, but it must appeal to the market both with nostalgia and a newness.Now, nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool – it is why remakes and remasters are so popular right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Gears of War and Uncharted collection be announced this year. Remasters rarely sell more than their originals however. Shown below, you can see the originals sales and their remastered sales, as well as numbered sequel sales compared to original sales.

Examples: (M= millions of copies sold)
Halo CE Anniversary: 2.34 M
Halo CE: 6.43 M
Halo 2: 8.49 M
Halo 3: 12.01 M
Halo 4: 9.39 M
Halo MCC: 1.9 M  ( 3 months sales)The Last of Us (PS3): 5.43 M

The Last of Us (PS4): 2.75 M

God of War: 4.45 M

God of War 2: 4.07 M
God of War 3: 4.76 M
God of War Ascension: 2.09 M
God of War Collection: 2.56 M
God of War Trilogy: 0.12 M
Banjo Kazooie: 3.65 M
Banjo Tooie: 1.49 M
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts: .74 M(all info from http://www.vgchartz.com)

The reason why some games, such as Halo CE – 4, and God of War 1-3 sell well as numbered sequels is that they bring a significant change to the core game. As soon as you take that significant change out, don’t change something enough, or change it entirely, bad results happen (see Nuts and Bolts and Ascension).

Banjo Threeie would sell – ok – with people who played the originals buying the game out of nostalgia. To be frank, some may not even buy it after Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (a good game in its own right) strayed away from its roots and tried to jump into the Minecraft ‘creation’ and racing market simultaneously. Even seen in its sequel, since it had similar concepts it sold less than half of its original. But to achieve a true blockbuster release they would need to appeal to a larger market – and the way to do that in the modern gaming industry is to bring a uniqueness to the game – whether it be a revolutionary mechanic, idea, or design. And most importantly, as learned in Nuts and Bolts, it cannot be a different game altogether.

At its core, it needs to be a platformer in the Banjo universe. What it does after that will determine its true success. Rare is a former shell of its legendary past, and I cannot see them re-inventing the platforming genre again like they did with the original. It needs to do more than look good and play well – it needs to innovate within itself. Is there room for growth in Banjo? Or is it worth just doing 1080p remakes of the originals? Only time will tell – but if the next Banjo game is not revolutionary, it will have underwhelming sales.

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