Ash Williams and the Rising Crossover Problem

I have always been a fan of the Evil Dead. Since watching the original movie at the age of 12, I knew from that day forth I had found my horror franchise. The main protagonist, Ash Williams, has gotten a lot of love from the gaming industry over the years. Since starring in his first three games on the original Playstation and the Playstation 2, he has appeared as a guest character in quite the number of games.

First guest starring alongside the likes of Claptrap and Brock Samson in Poker Night 2, he spent 6 years lying dormant, waiting for his chance to shine. Since 2019 he has seen quite the resurgence in the gaming space. After joining the cast of survivors in Dead by Daylight in April of that year, our one handed boomstick-wielding hero was able to appear in his own game yet again. While Evil Dead: The Game was a hit among fans (the recent discontinuation of support for the game breaks my heart) that is not what I’m here to talk about.

Ash Williams appears as a guest character in his Dead by Daylight crossover
Ash in Dead by Daylight

Call of Duty has been really pushing the guest operators in the last few years. Since Warzone 1’s release they have had at least 1 horror icon operator each Halloween season after a new release. Leatherface slashed into the fray in 2019 followed by Ghostface and Frank from Donnie Darko the following year. These made sense, because at least the former two are known to mercilessly delete people from existence. Now, in 2023, we are being given Spawn from the MacFarlane Comic series, and the aforementioned Ash Williams. Now Spawn, I 100% understand: he’s a former operative sent back from hell to fight to protect Earth from the apocalypse. See? Perfectly understandable.

Now Ash, on the other hand, I struggle to grasp. He has never been known to willingly kill another human. In the first film he could hardly hurt a deadite to save his life. Why would Ash, a fourth stooge type of guy who’s just clumsily saving the world from evil, fight in a warzone against military personnel? He’s not cut out for that stuff. He would fit in perfectly with the upcoming MW zombies mode, sure, but that’s about as far as that goes. Now don’t get me wrong: although I’ve barely played MW2 since February of this year, I will be fighting the fanboy urge to shell out some money just to have access to the man with the boomstick. (Quick side-note, it breaks my heart we’re getting Ash and Spawn in CoD but we couldn’t be as blessed in MK11.)

This is a good example of the glaring issue with many AAA titles nowadays. Big developers (be it under publisher’s command or not) would rather fill a game with add-ons and crossovers that are sold at premium prices instead of making their $70 game the experience they promised players. Even when a product is complete and satisfactory for most, companies will still milk players of their hard earned money through cross-over add ons that bring little to the table.

For a good example of this, one can simply look to the TMNT content added to Street Fighter 6. For context, it would cost at least a hundred dollars to get all the cross-over has to offer. To make matters worse, you don’t even get to actually play as the turtles. They reduce players to only being able to applying a skin to their custom character. They had appeared as guest characters in Injustice 2 less than a decade ago, and that was done tastefully. I’m not the only one to say this, but I believe many of these AAA studios/publishers are getting a little out of hand with these practices.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you pay for any crossover with your favorite franchise, or are you more cautious about such things?