Despite harsh economic times, Microsoft says that it will continue to focus on and invest in original intellectual properties for the future.
Echoing remarks frequently heard from Electronic Arts' John Riccitiello, Chris Lewis of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business has said that the company intends to focus on new IPs as an investment for the future. Tough times make it harder to finance original properties when established products are a more dependable source of income, and Microsoft isn't going to deny that. Still, despite admitting that plenty of IPs are standing on shaky economic ground, Lewis told GamesIndustry.biz that Microsoft would stay commited to producing original content. "I think you'll see some [IP under threat], yes - but I also think, and I can only really speak with authority about our own games development work, be very confident we'll continue to innovate, and focus on exciting IP for the future," Lewis remarked.
Lewis sees original IPs as investments for the future, and that though it might not seem like a viable project right now, there will be space for originality and innovation once this whole recession business sets itself straight and we all start buying JetSkis to ride in our backyard pools again. The trick, as he sees it, is to get a head start now. "The healthy companies will be the ones that have invested sufficiently during that phase that they've got exciting IP and innovative things happening for when that recovery starts to happen," Lewis said. "I don't know when that is... I'd love to know, but I tend to think very positively about the opportunities that it subsequently creates."
The question for gamers, then, is what exactly Microsoft means when it says new and original IP. It could mean something like what EA is doing, with Mirror's Edge and Dead Space. Or it could mean something else. As GamesIndustry notes, the last big original IPs Microsoft pushed for holiday 2008 were casual games Lips, Scene It and You're In the Movies. If this is the future for Microsoft's original properties, some gamers might want to just stick with the old ones. I'll take Halo Wars: Recon 2 Episode 1 over Scene It, please.