Over-Saturation of a Franchise: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Posted on 09 January 2012 by DM

It has been a while since I put finger to key and for my first foray in the new year, I wanted to write about something that has crossed my mind, as well as many others, which is proliferation of a work into every corner and crevice of entertainment and lifestyle items as possible. Now honestly the first thing that pops into my mind right now when I think of this is Game of Thrones.  Before anyone jumps on me too badly, it is just the first thing because of its recentness. No, we all know that if there was one thing that has been infused with our lives in a way that we may never escape, it is the Star Wars franchise.  Obviously, this saturation is not a new thing, but is it a good thing? Does it do affect a franchise in an inherently good or bad way? Alternatively, is it like so many things, it that it all depends on how it is done?

We meet again, for the first time for the last time

Star Wars did not start this phenomenon, but it certainly made it the steroid enhanced consumer crushing entity that plagues us today.  Lucas pulled no stops and today among the prominent things from the Star Wars universe. We have rereleases of movies, action figures, Legos, video games, mmorpg’s, novels, children’s books, comic books, foods, stickers, happy meal toys, other toys, and the most horrendous holiday special to feature Jefferson Starship ever.  That is just the tip of the iceberg too!

With all honestly, I have not heard too much negative reception of this blob like spread into other markets. At least not until the movies began re-releasing.  I played with the toys when I was a child (also last week because I got pretty cool Christmas presents) and have watched the movies and read the books.  They were enjoyable and remain so today.  I think an important note here is that there was little complaining, except from broke parents perhaps, as long as the new endeavors were contributing and expanding the original story.  When it began changing the story that had started it all was when more loud protestations began.

For the first time, Boba Fett!


Game of Thrones is what brought me to this hideously massive topic. It has a much more modern style of franchise cancer (not deadly by any means and sometimes gives you cool powers).  So far, I am not sure how I feel about it either.  We have some fun, if not novel, additions to the franchise like a board game and an RPG.  The TV show is actually quite fantastic in its execution, so that is difficult to be critical.  It has also done exactly what something like that is supposed to and sent people back to buying the original source material like frat boys to bad beer.   They start losing me at the comic book.  It is the same as when a comic book moves to be novelized; why are we making a backwards move? The story is well told in the novels.  Visual Stimulation is provided in the TV series.  Do we need more? I do not know.


Lucas, buddy, we gotta talk! I don't think im going far enough. What? A GoT Holiday special?


There are other victims of franchise cancer both big and small.  Star Trek, Comic book heroes, and Transformers come to mind easily enough.  It is tough to sort the good from the bad. When does it become too much or too redundant?  When does it hurt the integrity of the franchise in a significant way? Is it when the extras stop bolstering the original and seek to replace it?  I cannot argue that it is the artists right to do as he pleases, but is that when franchise cancer becomes terminal?  It will take a different mind than mine to figure that one out.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Julie Ann Says:


    Enough said.

  2. Mac Says:

    Over saturation can definitely dilute the strength of brand. Bill Watterson tried to avoid that with Calvin and Hobbes by not allowing merchandising, and I think that was the right decision for that brand.

  3. Vincenzo Averello Says:

    I think that there are two issues being brought up and a distinction has to be made between over-saturation and keeping a franchise alive, the trick becomes keeping the market just at the saturation point really.

    Star Wars fans still keep buying toys and books and games, while not the most die-hard I will play the games from time to time and if there is a cool toy I might pick it up. On the topic of GoT, that may be just at oversaturation, honestly, a lot of the product has been around for a while now with the board game dating to 2003, the show has just caused a new group of fans to discover it.

    I also think that there are multiple levels are product, mass-market and fan-targeted. If you look at Star Wars properties, the movies and Clone Wars TV series are aimed at everyone (movies more so) and than there are the products that are more targeted, the novels, the role-playing games, and then there are the products that fall somewhere in between, the video games. It gives fans the ability to pick what they like.

    I think what Diego is pointing out is that people tend to get haughty at times with products, two great examples being The Game of Thrones comic book (I haven’t read it since I didn’t see what they could in six-issues that they couldn’t it 800 pages or 10 hours) and the Star Wars Christmas Special. These just become things that are meant to be a quick cash grab that don’t have much (or any) quality control on them.

    If anything can be said from this long rambling post it is that while there is a risk of oversaturation it is also important to keep the fans engaged and if a franchise has enough longevity (Star Wars, Transformers) that it brings in new groups consistently.

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