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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Star Wars Fatigue vs. Super Mario Fatigue

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Fatigue is real.

Back in the early Wii U days, Nintendo scholars were floating around the idea of “Mario fatigue.” That's the idea that Nintendo was releasing too many Super Mario platformers in a short amount of time. Spin-offs were one thing (and the GameCube notably had many of those in a short period of time), but platformers were supposed to be standard-setting events that influenced spin-offs to come. Big platformer release, then spin-offs to maintain the momentum, then another big platformer. That changed in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Especially with all the so-called “New” series of platformers (four in all — not even counting New Super Luigi U) along with two Super Mario Galaxy games, Super Mario 3D Land, and Super Mario 3D World. Eight games in as many years. (2006 to 2013.)

People tracked the fatigue by noting that franchise sales were decreasing over time, as people steadily got fed Mario platformer after Mario platformer. The originality of the game design and artistic assets was taking a hit. The fatigue didn't go away until Nintendo took a break and then released something completely different, with Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch. Now it's the best-selling game on the Switch.

Super Mario series timeline of release years fatigue
Look how CONDENSED that purple box is.
(Timeline creation credit: Wikipedia.)

That brings me to the other half of the article title: Star Wars

The movie Solo: A Star Wars Story just came out a few days ago to relatively poor reception, both critically and in terms of sales. It is the fourth Star Wars movie in two and a half years, and there are more movies to come in the next few years. These used to come out at an average rate of one movie every three years, plus a whole sixteen year gap between Episode VI (1983) and Episode I (1999). With Star Wars now under the control of Disney, Disney is pumping these out at a reckless pace.

No one complained about the Star Wars movies taking too long to produce, during their respective trilogies. Despite that, now everything is being made in content mills to get rich quick, and people are just getting tired of the constant exposure. Cooldowns in your release schedule are a really important concept in a lot of industries — entertainment, marketing, music, speech-giving, and more. Consumers have to be able to properly digest and absorb what you're giving them. And, you know, they usually want to be able to do other things with their life as well.

That's why, unless you're May 2018, you don't have Splatfests every single week. People respond because things are exclusive and urgent. (And interesting.) If something is spammed at you, you're naturally going to lose interest. Not just the consumer, but the producer will, too.

Fatigue isn't a theory. It's common sense. Super Mario has fixed its long-running fatigue issue. Will Star Wars fix theirs?

Not all annual franchises have to necessarily get fatigue, by the way. It depends on their medium. If your franchise is based off big games and movies, then yes, you will fatigue if you release every year. (Imagine a game the size of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released on an annual basis!) On the other hand, KoopaTV's medium is this blog. We publish one article every week day. I don't think people get tired of that!

...If you do get tired of KoopaTV's article cadence, let the comments section or KoopaTV's Feedback Forms know. Do you believe in fatigue? Do you think that fatigue is an obvious concept and didn't need its own article? Or perhaps there are other factors to explain falling scores and sales?

The only other time that Star Wars was discussed in an article that wasn't a reaction log was this about a Star Wars charity stream.
Do you want to know how fatigue applies to the Pokémon series? Very differently.


  1. I'm afraid all the Pokemon spinoffs that are prioritizing Gen 1 above all else is going to cause too much fatigue for the real core Pokemon game coming up in 2019 and hurt sales.

  2. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Some movie, gaming, and smartphone brands seem to always push out as much as possible in a short time span. This leads to less innovation and a feeling of sameness in the launch of a new product. A good Mario game could be released every year, but they would not be the same quality as one of the top games that took years to develop. The time between games would build up anticipation and should lead to more polish than a rushed sequel. While I may not be an avid Star Wars fan, I can still see that the series is becoming worn out as Disney continues to push them out so quickly. I could probably say the same for Marvel movies as well. Timing is everything.

    1. Marvel is a bit of a different and interesting case. I can't make an educated comment as to why, but I know its circumstances with the Cinematic Universe is different.


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