It looks like gamers’ complaints that we weren’t getting anything new have paid off: There were 106% more new IPs released in 2009 than in 2007 – but how many of them were successful?
Around the launch of the new console generation, it seemed as though gamers were getting fed up of having nothing but sequel after sequel shoved down their throats: Madden, Halo, Mario, Final Fantasy, so on and so forth – and in response, publishers like EA promised to support new Intellectual Properties moving forward. As it turns out, EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich says that the publishers kept their promise, surprisingly enough.
In 2006, only 16% of the total market share belonged to new IPs; in 2009 that number had gone up to 22%. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive an increase just looking at the simple percentage, looking at the hard numbers gives us a decidedly different view: There were 61 new properties introduced in 2007, and 126 introduced in 2009 – a 106% increase in the release of new IPs.
However, Divnich says that many (if not most) new intellectual properties fail to meet expectations – of the 126 new IPs released on consoles in 2009, only 7 were certifiable “hits,” and it will take a sequel to grow the brand into a blockbuster franchise, he claims. Nor are sales the only measure of quality – in 2009, there were 9 titles that scored over a 90% on review aggregate sites like Metacritic, and none of them were new IPs (there was only one in 2008, and that was LittleBigPlanet).
If a publisher launch four new IPs, only one will succeed, says Divnich, whereas the other three will fail and be wastes of money under the current model – and then the executives will move to quickly exploit as much money from the new franchise as possible. This leads to burnout and exhaustion from fans, explains the EEDAR analyst, whereas an ultimately more profitable method (and one that engenders brand loyalty) is a slow cultivation – Divnich points to Blizzard as an example of what careful, almost agricultural tending of a brand can do for a company.
“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.”