Making matters worse, Metal Gear Solid itself was a sequel to two games from eight and 11 years prior, the second of which was not released in America (until it got ported to PlayStation 2 as bonus content in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence). Getting into the series late, I'd assumed that Metal Gear Solid was a reboot, but its storyline is heavily predicated upon events most players would have no knowledge of without the internet. At this point as the series requires Cliff Notes just to get into.
It doesn't help that the industry is obsessed with focusing on the latest and greatest. Our popular game magazines and websites focus mostly on reviews and previews, but less so on retrospectives or critiques. While I'm certainly biased as I make a living keeping up with gaming, even before I worked in the industry and had the freedom to play whatever I wanted, it felt like there was some kind of intangible force pressuring me to play whatever new big hit had just come out. I wanted to be part of the ongoing conversation, and it's a fast-moving train.
While there are plenty of sequels out there, so many of them are only tangentially related and not interested in telling a larger story. Even good sequels like BioShock 2 were not intended when the first game was created. Original IPs are a big risk, and creating one that doesn't tell a complete story is an even bigger one. It worked fine for Assassin's Creed, which grossed enough for a sequel, but eight years later, we're still waiting for Beyond Good & Evil 2 to wrap up its predecessor's cliffhanger ending.
As much as I love the idea of an ongoing series where every plot point matters, this is an especially difficult proposition for videogames as they have greater barriers of entry than any other medium. They're long and plodding relative to how much essential narrative they contain, it can prove difficult to keep up with a series' installments if they're multiformat, and ever-changing technology renders older titles difficult to accept without trepidation. This isn't to say it shouldn't be attempted - and I applaud Telltale and BioWare for trying - but rather that narrative-heavy sequels are an increasingly intimidating prospect in an industry that never looks back.
Jeffrey Matulef is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR. His work has appeared at G4TV, Eurogamer, Paste, Gamasutra, Joystiq, GamePro, Mac|Life, and Kill Screen among other places. He can be found on Twitter @mrdurandpierre.