PC gaming’s most beloved and most obscure shared universes

We are living in the age of the franchise. The MCU has bulldozed its way through the movie-making business on the backs of supercharged mascots. HBO’s Game of Thrones is rumbling back to life, and Amazon’s billion-dollar Rings of Power is right behind it. To turn a profit in the entertainment industry, everything in your oeuvre must exist within the same constellation, opening the door for constant cameos to stoke Reddit conspiracies.

Where did movies learn this trick? Look no further than the games industry’s long history of crossovers. After all, if you want to be outrageously generous, Mario and Zelda exist in the same universe. Link showed up in Mario Kart 8 on the back of a Hyrule chopper, and Zelda’s Castle in Ocarina of Time included a few sly snapshots of the Mushroom Kingdom cast in the royal bedroom. (Maybe we can blame Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein for the modern movie industry, but it’s a little funnier to point the finger at Mario).

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