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The curse of new IP

The curse of new IP


Are we in danger of seeing two of the biggest videogame publishers in the world experience their worst generation of sales because they supported new IP (Intellectual Property)? That’s the question that’s been bugging me for the last few days as report after report comes through showing how Sony’s commitment to launching new IP on the PS3 has not translated to sales as well as the already well documented, but still painful knocking EA took last Christmas with the launch of a number of new titles.

Let me hit you with some US facts and figures that are scattered about. Of the many first-party releases from Sony since launch, only one has broken 1 million in sales; Resistance: Fall Of Man. LittleBigPlanet, Uncharted, MotorStorm and Heavenly Sword all fell short of that mark, according to NPD Group, which tracks US games sales.

Now I should add that these figures from NPD do not include games sold in console bundles. Add those to the equation and Drake’s Fortune, for example, sold a respectable 2.6 million worldwide. That still pales in comparison to the sales of a game like Call Of Duty 4 (13 million as of this April) or even Fallout 3 (4.7 million by early November 08), but does go some way to negate the scaremongering. EA has fared no better, though; the likes of Spore, Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, Warhammer Online, Army Of Two and Boom Blox all fell short of sales expectations.

So should publishers be turning their backs on new IP? Thankfully, for those of us who are always desperate to experience new games and new ideas, there is still a glimmer of light for new intellectual property. There are notable exceptions to the new-IP bashing that has been going on of late, and the figures only tell a part of the story. BioShock and Gears Of War are notable examples of new IP sales success. While both were unique new games that pushed the Xbox 360 to the max, neither was so much better than the other titles mentioned to warrant such a sales discrepancy.

The bottom line is that for every new game release that fails, there is one somewhere that really hits off. There’s a lot of focus on the fact that Sony and EA took some losses last year, but what about the fact that EA is launching even more new titles in the next 12 months. APB, Brütal Legend, Dante’s Inferno, Dragon Age: Origins, Rage, Alice and The Saboteur are worth more to EA than just sales. They offer prestige, respect and over time that’s going to lead to the highly anticipated sequels of tomorrow. Even Activision, the perennial sequel releaser, has new IP this year in the shape of Prototype, DJ Hero, Singularity and Blur all in bound.

These companies are playing the long game, thinking ahead to the successes of tomorrow as well as today. I for one don’t see any real crisis for new intellectual property. These lies, damned lies, and statistics don’t seem to scaring away the biggest publishers from backing new titles.

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