Why major video game publishers rely on sequels, prequels, remakes, adaptations, side stories, back stories and spin offs as a standard practice that is not going away any time soon
Lack of original IP’s in the video game space has become a constant. Most of you have probably noticed that these days not many new games are being released on consoles or at all. It’s only May in 2013 and already we have seen the release of Tomb Raider, DMC, Dead Space 3, Fire Emblem Awakening, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Crysis 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires, The Amazing Spider-Man, SimCity, God of War: Ascension, StarCraft II: Heat of the Swarm, Gears of War: Judgment, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Dead Island: Riptide, Star Trek and Metro: Last Light (that is just to name a few).
All of these titles are not new IP’s (Intellectual Property). They all come as a sequel to an earlier game, a prequel to a franchise, a television series, a movie or a remake of an old series. This is not to say that there has not been some truly original and exciting new IP’s released this year, but more often than not the games getting most of the PR, attention and sales are not new IP’s.
Further evidence can be seen in this GameSpot article, where Brendan Sinclair breaks down new IP’s between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. His results are below:
This article is not to debate whether the lack of IP’s is a good or bad thing. For the record, I am of the mindset that prequels/sequels are not a bad thing inherently. Any subject matter has the potential to be something great, its all in the execution. This article is more to understand and explain why the lack of new IP’s have become so prevalent in the industry.
The good people at Red Letter Media in reviewing the 2009 movie Star Trek discussed what they called “The Blurring Effect” which addresses exactly why this problem is so prevalent. Watch the video below starting from 6:20 to 12:40 where Mr. Plinkett discusses the Blurring effect. Just replace Hollywoord with the Video Games industry and you will be able to see how it applies to the major publishers today.
There are a lot of great insights (albeit comical) in this video but basically, the reason why we have no new IP’s comes down to this graphic:
This Blurring Effect does ring true to the industry. In a previous article, I covered why larger video game companies need to make sure that every game they release is commercial success and meets the company’s sales goals. Since video games have come into the mainstream, publishers have to compete not just with each other in terms of sales, but now every other medium who could take away their potential profits.