Few franchises survive long enough to have ten instalments, but Ghost Recon reached that landmark with the release of Wildlands in March 2017. Such longevity is testament to high quality and popularity, but it is interesting to compare Ghost Recon to other FPS franchises to see how it holds up. The market of FPS games is almost as fiercely contested as the gameplay of an FPS release, but Ghost Recon holds its own against some gaming giants.
The first Ghost Recon was released in 2001 to critical acclaim, with its gripping gameplay persuading PC Gamer to rank it as the best game of 2001. Sequels have been released regularly, a response to constant consumer appeal for more Ghost Recon games. The series’ pinnacle so far may have come with 2006’s Advanced Warfighter, with GameSpot’s review of the Xbox 360 version giving a rating of 9.2 as a result of the unprecedented graphical detail and its tactical demands.
Yet, the series has struggled to match that high bar with subsequent releases, thereby denying the series the instant prestige that comes with the names of other FPS franchises. Comparing Facebook likes is a crude but effective indication of series popularity. Ghost Recon’s official page boasts an impressive 1.4 million likes, but this is dwarfed by Call of Duty’s 24 million and Halo’s 3.4 million.
Those numbers show that Call of Duty is on a different level of popularity to other FPS franchises, with its consistent early releases providing the foundation for both Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops to surpass sales of 30 million units. Ubisoft, creators of the Ghost Recon series, are no stranger to best-selling games. This year, fellow FPS Far Cry 5 became the Ubisoft’s second biggest game launch with $310 million of consumer spending, surpassing the releases of any Ghost Recon games.
It is clear that Ghost Recon remains underappreciated in most statistical measures, but it has spawned the release of a game that diverges from the FPS model. This is something that it shares with other leading FPS franchises and highlights the success of the series. 2011’s Shadow Wars adapted the world of Ghost Recon into a turn-based tactics game for the Nintendo 3DS. For a franchise to diversify, there must be a sufficiently passionate fanbase to stick with it.
Other FPS franchises have seen similar moves away from the genre that popularized the series. As those Facebook and sales numbers show, the FPS franchise with the most instant global recognition is Call of Duty. The series has sufficient mainstream pop culture appeal to have inspired both comic books and card games, while Barcrest’s Call of Fruity game takes a more light-hearted approach to the themes of Call of Duty as players shoot for the jackpot.
Another of the best-selling gaming franchises alongside Call of Duty is Halo, with its overt reliance on science-fiction themes giving the FPS action a distinctive feel. Such is the series’ success that it has inspired releases of a different form, with 2009’s Halo Wars and its 2017 sequel real-time strategy games more akin to Age of Empires than Half-Life.
Source: Halo via Facebook.
1998’s Half-Life is a seminal instalment in the FPS genre. Influencing pretty much all subsequent FPS, Half-Life also has direct ties to other games. Counter-Strike was released as a mod for Half-Life, with CS:GO now one of the most popular eSports. However, Valve also released the first-person puzzle game Portal into the same universe as Half-Life, featuring subtle references to the FPS game in the magical world of the new game.
For Ghost Recon to have similar crossover appeal to Call of Duty, Halo and Half-Life is testament to the series’ success. That success shows no signs of abating. Wildlands was a huge success for Ubisoft in 2017, selling an estimated 1.62 million units in its first week of retail. It may not match the Facebook likes and sales numbers of other FPS franchises, but the series’ longevity is testament to its consistent quality.