The importance of new IP in the video games market has, contrary to popular opinion, grown over the current generation of machines according to a new report from analyst firm EEDAR.
Between 2006 and 2009 the market share commanded by new franchises grew from 16 per cent to 22 per cent. In 2007 61 new game IPs were introduced to the market – by comparison, last year saw 126 arrive on shelves.
However, the downside of this news is the success of said titles. Of the 126 new IPs seen last year only seven titles were deemed to have been commercial successes. None of the nine titles to receive an average review score of 90 or above throughout 2009 were new brands.
“When we see the same game being released year-in and year-out with little being done to improve or increase the game’s features, we show our dissatisfaction with our pocket books,” EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich explains.
“Publishers and other industry professionals take that as a sign that the best strategy is to create new properties to replace the stalling ones. This leads to a publisher launching four new properties, but three of them will likely fail and be unprofitable.
“And for the one that does succeed, publishers instantly begin to think about how quickly they can extract profits from this new property; this mentality, of course, leads to problems such as feature stagnation, which ultimately causes the new brand to go stale, bringing us right back to the beginning.”
Special praise was reserved for Activision-owned studio Blizzard, which has not launched a new IP in 12 years but continues to be one of the most lucrative game makers in the market.
“When Blizzard comes across a new successful property, they treat it the same way farmers treat their land; they nourish the soil and carefully cultivate the crops to ensure the land stays healthy for the next season,” Divnich adds.
“The opposite of this strategy is best reserved for nomadic Barbarians; when they come across a rich land, they drain its resources, pack up, and begin to forage for new resources. Rinse and Repeat. Sound familiar? I am no anthropologist, but I am pretty sure farming beat out the hunting-gathering strategy centuries ago.”