As we have all grown up with MMOs on this site, there is a rich history of character customization that we took for granted. However, over the past several years it seems like more games have gone the route of skins and character lists instead of giving players the chance to build their own look on screen. Until recently, now it seems like customization is coming back.
Marvel and Riot
There was an eight-year run in games which was dominated by several forms of entertainment. Marvel wrote the book on having a catalog of characters for fans to follow and this idea moved into games. In the case of MOBAs as in other game genres it appears like having the player stand by with a specific character favorite made for a better choice design wise as well as marketing wise. No one did this better than Overwatch. They banked on iconic characters from their launch in 2015 and sold a lot of Soldier 76 gear.
Riot Games put together a solid cast of characters for League of Legends and their overwhelming success quickly brought in the trend of having no need to put in a character generator to the game. Keep in mind at the time that was still a complex mechanic to add into a game. Yet, Skyrim and Fallout 4 both had their typical in-depth creation screens at the time for single player fans. You still had some room to be creative, but overall games moved into a catalog of characters theory when setting up a player experience.
MMOs Had It Best
Like many of us here, few can argue the single best character creation system ever was created for an MMO. City of Heroes still holds that title for many of us. Hours were spent in that system and it never let you down. In a world full of super heroes with endless schemes and costumes, City of Heroes and Villains won the day.
We missed these moments of creating a unique character and building out something that was your own. Even if you were choosing from templates you still made those choices your own. Warcraft has always been one of the weaker customization tool sets for MMOs and no matter what the orcs felt like ours.
As Minecraft and Fortnite bring a new age of gamers to light, I believe you will see much more customization down the line. Roblox is another huge title which gives kids and adults the ability to look how they wish in a game. Though some games will still stay iconic in their characters like Zelda, as games move to more online models and with DLC packs becoming the norm, it is safe to say that character creators will be making a strong comeback.