Follow up to the Soul/Tekken post, do you think that game devs going up the corporate ladder or taking more orders from corporate a large reason many franchises (or long enough running live service games) can start “drifting” in focus or the franchise “going stale.”

You're correct about how developers getting promoted or moving to other studios can affect things, but it goes further than that. Honestly, it is because whole teams and individual team members change over time. People age and grow, life priorities shift and move. Becoming a parent, for example, radically shifts a person's priorities. Any of the game's major decision-makers becoming a parent can drastically alter the direction of the game. The longer a game or franchise runs, the more difficult it becomes to maintain the singularity of vision.

If we hire somebody completely new to take over, we lose that singularity of vision because the new leader will bring a new perspective. Even if we hire longtime fans of the game to work on it, the ascended fans' decisions will emphasize what they liked about the game and de-emphasize what they didn't. This can take a game in a direction that portions of the playerbase dislike - the players who don't share the same likes as the ascended fan. Think of what would happen to the Dark Souls franchise if the new leader was only a fan of the difficult boss fight aspect and chose not to spend those resources on the ambience and world building aspect of the game.

To some extent, yes - developers and influential stakeholders will move around as part of their careers or lives. Developers will grow and change over time, they'll take new jobs, retire, have kids, and their lives and priorities will change. New decisionmakers will join the team and will have different visions for the franchise than their predecessors. Beyond this, even player tastes will grow, change, and evolve over time as well. The old stuff that was super popular before won't cut it again if there isn't anything new to offer. If the directional changes meet the collective players' (both new and returning) tastes, the franchise will continue to see success. If they don't satisfy, the franchise will struggle.

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