Why Forcing Pop Culture Into Games Ruins Them

We all love our favorite pop culture icons existing in our beloved games, but sometimes it can get too extreme.

Pop culture has been evolving for decades, undergoing significant changes over time. In recent years, video games like Call of Duty and Fortnite have greatly influenced mainstream media. Many TV shows, movies, and anime have become a huge part of pop culture, often making appearances in video games.

Key Takeaways

  • Games today frequently include crossovers and collaborations to appeal to a wider audience and earn more profits.
  • Pop culture items for profit or to increase the player base might ruin the image of a game and make the already fans of the game leave the series.
  • Many gaming giants, known for their iconic characters and worlds, have lowered their standards by adding unnecessary guest characters and collaborations.

I, like many others, get excited when our favorite games release pop culture references and additions. But what happens when this type of content reaches an excessive level or no longer fits in the game? Games that have ruined their personality and reputation because of these types of content may serve as the answer.

Crossovers And Collaborations

Today many games try to appeal to audiences of different genres or similar tastes, by adding crossovers and collaboration events to the game from movies, shows, and other game series.

Fighting games are always trying to appeal to a wider audience to play their game. For instance, Tekken 7 had Akuma from Street Fighter and Noctis from Final Fantasy XV as guest characters. This way, Tekken was able to attract fans of Final Fantasy, in addition to those of Street Fighter, to their game.

Akuma In Tekken 7

Indie game developers are also utilizing these tactics to expand their player base. Dead Cells and V Rising featured crossovers with Castlevania, which were highly acclaimed. Being a Castlevania fan, I enjoyed the content and my playthroughs of both games became more exciting.

Destroying Integrity

Fans of their favorite games often enjoy content derived from other game series, movies, and shows they love. However, this can sometimes lead to excessive additions that do not align with the game’s aesthetic.

Call Of Duty these days is trying to add popular media skins to attract different diversity of audiences. From releasing anime weapon skins to rappers, Call Of Duty has gone from a gritty war experience to a goofy shooter game.

Call Of Duty used to be dark and did not hesitate to show war crimes and disturbing truths in their games. The multiplayer was filled with operatives trying to fight tough battles for objectives and the Zombies mode showed a horrifying and apocalyptic world.

But with the additions of things like the Nikki Minaj operator and 21 Savage skin, the game no longer fits into that adrenaline-filled first-person shooter setting. 

Nikki Minaj Operator In Call Of Duty MW 2 and 3

Many other games like Call Of Duty seem to be losing their integrity because they sacrifice the image they have created to add content to the game that will give them more profits and attract more players. Crossovers and collabs are always welcome, but they should neither contradict the world of the game nor be forced.

No Originality

Companies and developers are not only using pop culture icons to attract an audience but also as a way to reduce effort in adding content to the game. Developers do not have to think much about an original concept for their game when they can add something already present. Excess amounts of crossovers do not blend with the world and games lose originality this way.

Mortal Kombat was once famous for its unique characters and brutal fighting mechanics. Nowadays, it is known for incorporating popular movie characters and having them fight each other. This change divides fans as some believe it makes the game a childish playground for DLC characters, while others enjoy the interactions between their favorite pop culture characters.

Mortal Kombat has a very original and creative roster of characters that always get overshadowed by the DLC characters such as Homelander in Mortal Kombat 1 and Alien in Mortal Kombat X. It’s a shame, as their original characters are interesting enough to bring the game into the mainstream and keep the game fun. However, the series is losing fans and players due to the forced inclusion of guest characters.

Homelander And Omni-Man In Mortal Kombat 1

I used to play Mortal Kombat 1 regularly and loved the playstyles of all the characters available at release. However, I lost interest in the game when NetherRealm Studios started adding DLC characters. It didn’t feel the same anymore, and facing off against DLC characters in matches made the game less enjoyable.

I would have preferred that NetherRealm focus on the iconic characters from their series and build the game’s content around them. However, they included guest characters to increase the game’s hype instead.

Will It Get Worse?

Most audiences and players welcome crossovers and do not mind or react negatively if they are added to the game. This is why companies are repeatedly going for ways to increase their game’s popularity by adding more skins and events of pop culture characters into the game.

Given the lack of backlash to these choices, it’s likely that gaming corporations will continue adding these wacky and nonsensical pop culture references and content into their games.

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