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  • Writer's pictureJamiex66

The Slow Demise of ‘The New’ IP

Why do quality new IP’s (Intellectual Properties) fail? While a new IP with a dedicated gimmick can take off the ground selling millions of copies, no matter how generic it might be? The daily gamer desires new IP’s, especially so late in a console cycle, we have played Uncharted, Gears of War and LittleBigPlanet to death. Gamers desire something, fresh, bold, new and exciting. However games are becoming more expensive by the day, millions and millions of dollars can be spent during a games production, certification, publishing and marketing. Many companies are avoiding the risk of producing new IP’s due to the large investment and the slim potential for profit. But with so many gamers clamouring for the newest ideas, why do so many fail?

One such new IP of 2012 was Sleeping Dogs, set in a fictional Hong Kong you controlled Wei Shen in his undercover efforts to take down the triads from the inside. The idea of an open world third person shooter is not new; it has been done by many before. One of the most popular gaming franchises Grand Theft Auto sells millions of copies off this premise, Saints Row: The Third was able to find its own market last year in the same genre. These are two established IP’s, yet Sleeping Dogs in many ways does a lot of unique, fresh and interesting takes on the genre that the other examples haven’t been able to do. The world is something we haven’t seen before, flourishing in the culture of Hong Kong with a cinematic story line that could rival most great movies these days. It is a spectacular game, yet sold extremely poorly.

GTA V is bound to sell millions.

Sleeping Dogs sold 172,000 copies in its first month, not even cracking the top 5 most selling games for that month. The game got outstanding reviews, I personally gave the game an extremely positive review, it was a new IP that gamers are apparently asking for, yet it basically flat lined. How can a good game sell so poorly? It doesn’t have anything to do with the drop in gaming sales figures because plenty of other games sold well during August, as opposed to Sleeping Dogs. Was it poor marketing? Maybe it was the box art? The game really struggled to convey what the game provided players from a quick glance, sure the cover art looked interesting, but with the action scenes depicted in a stylized manner at the bottom of the cover, many didn’t even notice.

This idea of providing gamers with a stylish focused box art cover has failed before, maybe it was one of the reasons an established franchise like Resistance could not sell its orange boxed finale to the trilogy? Fact is box art may be a small issue for gamers who follow the industry; they know when they will buy a game no matter what the retail box looks like. But to the general consumer, who doesn’t know the difference between Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto, they are just open world shooters to them. Sleeping Dogs failed to provide the casual market with an idea of what the game was about.

Is this the future of gaming?

These low sale figures completely contradict another new IP, which has such become one of the highest selling franchises of the generation, now onto its second iteration. I am talking about Skylanders; this is a completely different game in comparison to Sleeping Dogs but they were both new IP’s. Skylanders has the gimmick of buying toys that can be used on the provided Portal of Power that allows players to access the new toy in-game. Did this game become big on gimmick alone? They first attached Spyro to the adventure and have now done away with the purple dragon for the follow-up, Skylanders Giants.

The game sold amazingly well and that is not factoring in the toy line, but was it because of Spyro’s help? I seriously doubt it. Spyro is not well known to kids these days, gamers sitting around the age of 20 or above will remember his adventures growing up, and so did this game literally sell because of the gimmick? Wii, Guitar Hero, Kinect and Words with Friends are all gaming related ideas that have sold terrifically well because they had a gimmick to portray to the market. But surely gaming is not just about gimmicks these days, quality should rise to the top, not the idea of making something viable because it has a toy-line.

Can Dishonored succeed, where Sleeping Dogs failed?

Some of the most talked about games these days are surprisingly new IP’s, The Last of Us continues to wow, Dishonored picked up a lot of buzz through media outlets and a lot of money was put into advertising the games existence, then we have Watch_Dogs which was the most talked about game from EA by far, why though? We have seen post apocalyptic before, we have seen assassin games before and we have definitely seen variations on hacking surrounding worlds to complete objectives.

Eric Pepper of AA voiced his views on marketing a new IP, “New IP’s make it or break it based on marketing and while only a handful of developers invest heavily in advertising their new IP’s as much as an established franchise, you can’t rely solely on word of mouth or a single ad”. Could this be Dishonored’s downfall? Only seeing the game being advertised on the side of buses, could it fall to the same poor sales numbers? Better yet, what is it that a game like Sleeping Dogs does wrong to miss this desperate need for new content? Call of Duty is the biggest game in the world and it can be released annually, to a wave of hatred from many saying it is “The same game”, but it sells like crazy.

One of the best selling games of 2012.

Maybe the fact is, majority of people do not want something new, they want the same base game they get every year. NBA 2K13 and FIFA 13 sold millions of copies this year and many can argue this is the same game as last year, then you have Black Ops 2 which has become the most pre-ordered game in history. As much as we may not like to hear it, the hardcore gamer is a small minority of the actual gaming public and the general gamer wants the same game, with slight variation,, updated graphics, something they are familiar with that they can enjoy annually. Robbie Key of AA mirrored my opinions on the matter, “With new IP’s, people can often times feel “afraid” to take the risk in investing their hard-earned cash because they know nothing about the game since they more than likely haven’t actually played the final product.”

It has been proven a new IP can succeed, but the fact is that chance of success is becoming slimmer and slimmer as people become unable to spend as much on recreational activities. Why risk your one game a year on something new when you buy Call of Duty every year and it always satisfies your gaming itch? The new IP is not dead, far from it, but with mobile and indie gaming becoming the most profitable way for developers to make money these days, the risk of a new AAA IP will become less likely. Microsoft, Sony and other large companies will still produce them, but games like Sleeping Dogs will disappear. The mid-tier surprisingly good new IP might become a thing of the past, which is quite disheartening.

Gaming has become one of the most popular activities in the world, if we stop showcasing our creativity with brand new content, the industry could end up paying for it in the end. If you want new games, support games like Sleeping Dogs and I assure you, it is worth every cent.

Jamie Briggs is considering buying a few million copies of Sleeping Dogs. He also runs Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and his videos on YouTube.



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