Great Gaming Franchises With Underwhelming First Games


  • Not every successful video game franchise starts off strong; some have rocky starts before finding success.
  • The first games in franchises like Red Dead and FIFA were less impressive compared to their later installments.
  • The Saints Row franchise started off as a rival to Grand Theft Auto but eventually developed its own unique identity.

in any industry, it is a good idea to always put the best foot forward when launching a new project. In the video game industry, some incredible launches have birthed some of the best video game franchises in history. It makes sense that a gamer will want to play a new game if the previous one was great and for developers, this mentality leads to big sales numbers.


Games That You Can Learn To Speedrun Fast (& Still Look Impressive)

Speedrunning is becoming a worldwide phenomenon and there are still quite a few games that look impressive when completed fast, even now!

However, not every video game franchise starts off this way. There are always going to be cases where the first game in the series is the worst because of the advancements made throughout time. Then there are a few gaming franchises that got off to a rocky start with a particularly poor game.

6 Red Dead

This Series Has A Forgotten Origin

Red Dead Revolver

Red Dead Revolver

red dead

May 4, 2004

Rockstar San Diego

Ask anyone about the Red Dead franchise from Rockstar, and they are likely to gush about the Red Dead Redemption games. These open-world cowboy games have successfully transported players to the Old West with stellar storytelling and breathtaking visuals. However, this franchise began much earlier than most players would believe.

The first game in the Red Dead franchise was not Red Dead Redemption, released in 2009. In fact, the first game in the series was a third person action game that was released for the PS2, called Red Dead Revolver. This original game was a fun linear adventure that let players face enemies with a variety of rifles, shotguns, and throwing weapons. Unfortunately, this game is often forgotten as it is a big departure from the stellar work the series would put forward later on.


A Blockbuster Franchise That Began On The PC


FIFA International Soccer
Genesis , Commodore Amiga , Game Boy , Game Gear , Sega CD , Master System , SNES , 3DO

December 15, 1993

Extended Play Productions

The FIFA franchise quickly became an annual release that almost every football/soccer fan has been drawn to in some way. It is hard to imagine a gaming industry where players can’t sit down and play a game of soccer on the TV with their friends online, or try to take their favorite team to the top of the league. Sadly, there was a lot of trial and error before the franchise could get to this point.


10 Best FIFA Games Ever

EA’s FIFA franchise has seen plenty of ups and downs. This list looks at the series’ high points, with the ten best FIFA games ever released.

The very first FIFA game that was released by EA came out on PC months before it hit other consoles. This basic sports game switched things up from other soccer games at the time by allowing players to use an isometric view of the pitch, instead of a top-down look. The game launched well to generally positive reviews, but it would take a few attempts at the concept to become the must-have football game on the market.

4 Mortal Kombat

A Hard Industry To Crack

Mortal Kombat Logo

Mortal Kombat (1992)
Arcade , Game Boy , PC , PS1 , PS2 , PS3 , Sega CD , Game Gear , Master System , Genesis , SNES , Xbox 360

October 6, 1992

Midway Games

The idea of releasing a fighting game to compete with the Street Fighter franchise seemed like a difficult hill to climb back in 1992. Despite this, the Mortal Kombat franchise has grown to become a great addition to the genre, mainly due to its over-the-top fatalities and violent combat. Though, it did take a while for gamers to warm to this concept.

The first Mortal Kombat video game steered away from the 2D art style of Street Fighter and instead chose to use roto-scoped visuals to make the game appear more realistic. Sadly, such a strange choice in art style was off-putting for new arcade players, and the violent content made some people stay away from it entirely. Luckily, this controversial reputation made Mortal Kombat a great experience for younger players.

3 Lord of the Rings (Movie Adaptations)

One Of The Biggest Movie Trilogies Has A Patchy Start

Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

September 24, 2002

WXP , Pocket Studios , Surreal Software

The video games that came out in time to tie in with the movie release of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy are often cited as some of the best licensed games for the PS2. The hack and slash gameplay from The Two Towers and Return of the King feel ripped straight from the films, and they follow the movies quite closely. Sadly, few people mention the game that was released alongside The Fellowship of the Ring.


The Best Lord of the Rings Video Games, Ranked

These titles based on The Lord of the Rings immerse players in the most famous Middle-earth adventure.

The reason for the oversight is that the initial game was released by WXP in 2002 for the Xbox. This release came almost a year after the movie, and the rights to the other games were held by Electronic Arts. This meant that EA was able to release its game based on The Two Towers in that same year, with parts of the first movie heavily featured. Plus, this first game in the series is less focused on combat, and tasks the player with puzzle-solving and RPG elements instead.

2 Saints Row

A Game Made To Rival GTA

Saints Row One Loading Screen

Saints Row

September 1, 2006

The first game in the Saints Row franchise was not bad by any means, it just lacked a clear identity. Released in 2006 by Volition, Saints Row was an open-world crime game that was clearly meant to rival the success of Grand Theft Auto. However, this game had less charm than its counterpart, and didn’t look nearly as good. Therefore, many GTA fans dismissed the first game as an inferior rip-off.

Despite this initial response, the Saints Row franchise would go on to establish an identity of its own. The sales of the first game warranted a sequel, but the GTA franchise had veered into more serious territory by that time. This gave Saints Row the opportunity to counter this move by embracing the sillier aspects of the genre. As a result, the series that started as a pale imitation slowly grew to become a unique series that detractors of the newer GTA games could appreciate.

Fantasy RPGs Were Never Supposed To Catch On

The Elder Scrolls Arena

The Elder Scrolls: Arena

March 25, 1994

Bethesda Softworks

The idea that the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls series would be a mainstream success for consoles would have seemed ludicrous when The Elder Scrolls: Arena was released for PC in 1994. That isn’t because the first game in this iconic franchise was bad, but rather because this fantasy RPG was very niche.

The pixelated, randomly generated world in this first game was populated by some very odd creatures, and it took players a lot of dedicated time to get through the main story and see everything the game has to offer. Fast-forward twenty-five years, and it is hard to believe that anyone who plays Skyrim now would ever have given this franchise a chance based on the first installment. The sales of the new game are dwarfing anything the developers ever expected from such an idea.


Linear Sequels & Spin-Offs To Open-World Games

It’s not uncommon for a game series to become open-world as it gains popularity, but these series did the opposite and became more linear instead.