I've always disliked Bethesda, long before it became cool to do so. But now that my criticisms of the company's poor product quality for a company of their resources and scale have been made mainstream through Fallout 76, that opinion is now just... a fact, or at least a consensus.
So that got me thinking. What other franchises or developers enjoy a similarly high reputation that may not actually be the benchmarks of quality that they are credited for?
For me, my immediate answer is Pokemon.
The Pokemon franchise is literally the most profitable entertainment IP in existence. So why, then, does the franchise put forth so little effort?
Every gen is the same basic story with the same basic mechanics, with just new (increasingly stupid looking) pokemon in a new setting.
The story still sucks.
Terrible, unintuitive, and outdated mechanics like EVs and IVs still gate off competitive play and make min-maxing an unfun chore.
The only significant combat changes are through gimmicks like Mega Evolutions, Z-moves, and gigantimaxing.
The franchise still only allows for one save slot (wtf).
The franchise still has the gall to charge for two separate and near-identical versions of itself - now at full AAA console game price.
Nintendo has a reputation for playing it safe, but that's really just Pokemon.
Mario is the only major platformer to be successful in both 2D and 3D and does so with wildly unique and game-defining mechanics like Cappy and the FLOOD. The sheer difference in quality and ingenuity in the Mario franchise compared to his platforming peers is astounding. Mario soars while Sonic embarassingly faceplants over and over again.
Fire Emblem has never played it safe and its willingness to experiment with new mechanics has created Nintendo's most divided fanbase. Recently, it's gone so far as to embrace Persona style social mechanics, to great success. And the result was one of the best games (and the best selling game) in the series, full stop.
Zelda has proven itself willing to scrap dungeons, go open world, and embrace survival mechanics. And while that's certainly controversial, it was done well and is a great game (even if not "a great Zelda game").
So here we have Pokemon Sword and Shield. Does it make any leaps forward or experiment similarly? No. It's actually a step backward. With HALF of the Pokedex cut, along with many moves, Pokemon has actually cut corners and made an inferior game, while charging more for it. For the biggest franchise in the world, that's fucking pathetic.