Crafting a name for a gaming franchise is a serious undertaking that holds the power to captivate players, evoke a sense of curiosity, and ultimately define the essence of the entire gaming experience. Like an artist wielding a brush, the process of naming a game requires careful consideration, creativity, and a deep understanding of the game’s themes, mechanics, and target audience.
Why is Proper Naming So Important?
ScreenRant emphasizes the significance of proper naming because otherwise, users may get confused. They may even steer away from playing entirely due to not being able to understand the story or other aspects of the game.
Then there are other important considerations like international releases, merchandising, and websites. In many cases, game names have different versions or translations that vary depending on the region. A popular example is the survival horror game Biohazard, as it is known in Japan and Southeast Asia. The name is already trademarked in the United States, which was why it was released in the West as Resident Evil.
Website or domain name is another crucial factor. Namechk notes that there are more than 350 million domain names currently registered worldwide. Hundreds more are added every year. With that number of names already taken, gaming franchise owners may need to get extra creative when setting up a website or pick an entirely different name altogether.
Once those are out of the way, it’s a matter of capturing and growing the player base and the name is the first point of interaction in this stage. A well-crafted franchise name can become a beacon of recognition, summoning excitement and anticipation among gamers, while setting the stage for immersive adventures and unforgettable journeys in the virtual realm.
The Names That Got It Right
Here are 5 of the best gaming franchise names that stood the test of time, along with the stories of how they came to fruition.
The name “Pokémon” originated from the Japanese romanization of the words “Pocket Monsters.” The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori and developed by Game Freak.
The concept behind Pokémon was inspired by Tajiri’s childhood fascination with collecting insects. He wanted to create a game that would allow players to experience the joy of collecting and trading creatures, much like he did with bugs. The idea of pocket-sized creatures that could be carried around in a portable gaming device like the Game Boy led to the concept of “Pocket Monsters.”
Pokémon has since become a globally recognized brand. From the classic color versions like Red/Green/Yellow to modern iterations like Pokémon Go, it has endeared audiences spanning multiple generations. The name now equates to the fun idea of having different creatures as friends, whether real-life pets or virtual companions.
Call of Duty
“Call of Duty” was inspired by a phrase commonly used in the military. It refers to the obligation and responsibility that soldiers feel to answer the call to serve their country and protect others. The original creators of the franchise, Vince Zampella and Jason West from Infinity Ward, wanted to develop a game that depicted the intense and realistic experiences of soldiers on the battlefield. They sought a name that would encompass the sense of duty and honor felt by those serving in the armed forces. It was chosen to reflect the game’s focus on combat, teamwork, and the immersive depiction of military engagements.
Since its initial release in 2003, the Call of Duty franchise has grown tremendously and is now one of the most recognizable gaming franchises in the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. With its fast-paced gameplay, intense action, and compelling narratives, it has attracted millions of players worldwide and continues to be a prominent force in the gaming industry.
This iconic character originally appeared in the 1981 arcade game “Donkey Kong” as “Jumpman.” The release of “Mario Bros.” in 1983 revealed his now-famous name.
The story behind Mario’s name is credited to Nintendo’s creative genius and former president, Hiroshi Yamauchi. When the time came to give the character a new name for “Mario Bros.,” Yamauchi was inspired by the landlord of Nintendo’s warehouse in the United States, Mario Segale. Segale was known for his assertive and sometimes temperamental personality. From that point on, the character became known as Mario, and his brother Luigi got introduced shortly afterward, completing the dynamic duo. The name “Mario” has since become synonymous with the Nintendo brand and has been associated with countless adventures and beloved games featuring the iconic plumber.
Grand Theft Auto
The title “Grand Theft Auto” was conceived by the co-founders of Rockstar Games, Sam Houser and Dan Houser, along with Terry Donovan. When the development team was brainstorming ideas for the game, they wanted a name that would encapsulate its core theme of criminal activities and the freedom to explore a sprawling virtual city. The name is a legal term used to describe the act of stealing a motor vehicle, which they found fitting for their concept.
Since the release of the original Grand Theft Auto game in 1997, the franchise has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, known for its immersive open-world gameplay, mature storytelling, and social commentary. With each installment and a GTA 6 in the works, the franchise has continued to push boundaries and redefine the sandbox gaming genre.
The Legend of Zelda
The name “The Legend of Zelda” came to fruition from real-world inspirations experienced by its creator, Shigeru Miyamoto. When Miyamoto set out to develop a new action-adventure game for Nintendo, his goal was to offer players a sense of grandeur and mythology.
The name “Zelda” was influenced by Zelda Fitzgerald, an American novelist and the wife of acclaimed author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Miyamoto found the name to be unique and fitting for the game’s princess character. This choice helped shape the narrative and added an air of mystique and importance to her role.
As for the term “Legend,” it was added to the title to emphasize the epic and mythical nature of the game. Miyamoto wanted players to feel like they were embarking on a grand adventure, filled with legendary quests, magical artifacts, and a rich tapestry of lore.
“The Legend of Zelda” perfectly captured the essence of the game, which is centered around an epic hero’s journey, exploration of vast lands, and the rescue of the princess from an evil antagonist. It conveyed a sense of wonder, heroism, and the promise of an unforgettable gaming experience.
Since its initial release in 1986, The Legend of Zelda franchise has become one of Nintendo’s most successful and beloved series. It has become a staple in the world of gaming and has continued to captivate players with its enchanting tales and timeless adventures.
Pokémon, Call of Duty, Super Mario, Grand Theft Auto, and The Legend of Zelda – five franchise names that are popular even outside gaming communities. They have solidified their place among the most influential titles of all time and will continue to be recognized for years to come.