The biggest game companies in the world have admitted to a significant decrease in developing original IP.
The revelation has emerged from a major study conducted by the UK supervisory body NESTA, which surveyed the likes of Activision, Sony, Microsoft, Bethesda, Eidos, Ubisoft, Realtime Worlds, Bizarre Creations, Codemasters, THQ, Frontier, Rebellion and Sports Interactive.
60 per cent of the report’s respondents claim that original IP development has slowed, or even stopped completely, in the last 5 years. More than half think the decline in original IP will continue.
“Risk aversion by publishers is making it harder for UK developers to be creative and innovative, areas where they have excelled in the past,” said the report.
Around three-quarters of 3rd party dev studios across the UK admitted that they haven’t worked on new IP, at all, in recent years.
One 3rd party development manager – speaking anonymously – summarised the decline in original IP:
“I would love to increase the amount of independent and original IP projects we fund but the UK does not seem to have, at present, a plethora of spin-outs set up to work on new or innovative projects where 5 years ago there were plenty,” he said.
NESTA said that the trend was “particularly worrying” for the UK as the nation has – traditionally - relied on its creativity and capacity to innovate as a differentiation factor against cheaper development territories.
However, a majority of those surveyed claimed that there is a solution for this, at least in the UK.
Two thirds of studios claim that a tax credit for cultural games would have a “definite, positive impact” on original IP development.
75 per cent of independent studios believe that any such tax measure in the UK would help them to keep hold of the original IP they produce.
“The tax credit will hopefully provide the catalyst needed to stimulate this level of innovation again and we will have more projects to choose from," said an anonymous industry member.
"We are already intending to increase the number of independent and original IP projects we fund and this will help us achieve that aim and make us more likely to invest.”
GEnerally speaking, there was a more optimistic outlook from 3rd party development managers. Many were confident that they would be funding and workin with a increasing amount of new IP over the next two years.
This is possibly linked to a change in the strategy followed by some publishers, who anticipate a shift away from development by internal studios towards the contracting of external developers,” said the NESTA report.