Eidos "Life President" Ian Livingstone predicts that 2009 will be ruled by "mega-franchises," while smaller releases from less well-heeled companies will perform disappointingly at retail.
High-profile franchises already account for a huge portion of the videogame market and that's a trend Livingstone, who has held several executive positions at Eidos since 1995, believes will be even more pronounced in 2009. "I think 2009 will be remembered as the year of 'roast duck or no dinner'," he said in an interview with GamesIndustry. "Big ticket titles continue to sell well but many of the smaller titles will probably disappoint their owners."
"There's a glut of product and in a discerning market there is no room for mediocrity. To make a suboptimal game with a suboptimal marketing spend is a recipe for disaster," he said. "I think we'll continue to see more production resources going into fewer titles supported by even bigger marketing budgets. Publishers are continuing to raise the investment bar, ensuring the mega-franchises will rule."
The consolidation of the industry is hardly a good thing for gamers and it's also tough on independent studios and small publishers who simply cannot compete with the big boys on a level playing field. "There are a lot of challenges for independent studios that do not have multi-title publishing deals in place or do not have adequate working capital reserves. One of the downsides for those in a weak position is that they are often obliged to give up their IP," Livingstone continued.
Eidos itself has had a rough ride of things lately, including the disappointing performance of Tomb Raider: Underworld, the latest entry in its long-running flagship franchise that failed to sell to expectations. Fortunately for Eidos, it hasn't been obliged to give up its IP; the company is hoping for big success from new titles in the storied Thief and Deus Ex series.