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Big-Budget New IPs Are Dying Out

Over the past few weeks, we've all heard the unfortunate news surrounding Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and "Project Copernicus" developer 38 Studios. The most recent update from Joystiq is even more discouraging. Just sad.

Now, I don't know if the company mishandled that $75 million loan they were given, or if they screwed up in other ways. What I do know is that Reckoning was a relatively well-received title that also did quite well on the sales charts. In the increasingly difficult realm of the big-budget new IP, it certainly didn't tank; in fact, it was viewed as a success right out of the gate. But things went south fast and the situation, from an originality and innovation standpoint, is growing dire.

The industry has long since thrived on big-name sequels. But we always need fresh names to keep gaming progressive; to continue to give gamers new experiences, and new developers and designers fresh influences. But at this point, given the 38 Studios apparent difficulties, how successful does a new IP have to be? How many copies does it have to sell just for the developers to keep their jobs? Forget about raking in huge amounts of cash; we're only talking about survival, here. Some years back, Free Radical had to shutter its doors, primarily due to the flop that was Haze.

But Reckoning was no Haze. On top of which, you've got developers everywhere repeating the same exact sentiment: Launching a successful new IP is getting borderline impossible. Look at Ninja Theory and Heavenly Sword (which evidently sold 1.5 million copies and the studio still said it wasn't enough) and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. You might also note that many of the newest, most innovative titles are found in the digital/downloadable realm now. Why? Because the money is less; hence, the risk is less. So we get Journey, Braid, Joe Danger, Linger in Shadows, echochrome, The Unfinished Swan (among many others).

Undoubtedly, this is also a big reason why we're seeing so many reboots. Developers everywhere have realized that consumers are really only buying names they recognize, perhaps even regardless of review scores. The latter part is what scares me the most, as this industry has historically rewarded quality. However, so long as something like Heavy Rain can hit big, there's still hope, right?

Tags: 38 studios, kingdoms of amalur, games industry

5/24/2012 10:10:40 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (22 posts)

oONewcloudOo
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 10:44:50 AM
Reply

Big budget new ip's aren't dieing Dead Island did well so did Darksiders and Demon Souls, LA Noire ect... And upcoming The Last of Us, Vitas Gravity Rush, Dragons Dogma, Spec Ops: The Line the list could go on.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 10:50:25 AM

The team that did L.A. Noire is dead. THQ is struggling despite Darksiders and in fact, it's only Saints Row that has really helped. The Last Of Us is created by a developer that is widely regarded as the best of the generation.

For the most part, trouble continues to follow those that risk the new IP.

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oONewcloudOo
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 11:52:32 AM

I was talking about new ip's which is what your article was about not there publishers or developers going bust. Tho there isn't as many new big ip's coming like early this gen I can't see them "dying out"

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Captain_Kush
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 12:53:08 PM

+1 quality post!

I'm taking you didn't read the article?

"Over the past few weeks, we've all heard the unfortunate news surrounding Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and "Project Copernicus" developer 38 Studios."

The first sentence. Now back to your regularly standard posting.

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xenris
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 1:14:53 PM

I think part of the reason is because of EA. I think there are more people boycotting EA because of there past practices. Not to mention their stock value is dropping. I think this affective Amalur the most maybe?

As for THQ, I don't know what happened there. I used to look forward to a game with THQ on it. I loved all the red factions except for Armageddon as they took the series in a kind of lame direction. Darksiders I think is one of the most underrated new IPs around. I guess maybe it is marketing? I really wish it was easier for people to get ideas off the ground and actually be successful.

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oONewcloudOo
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 1:16:19 PM

Ok, so the article is about good company's going down and not "Big-Budget New IPs Are Dying Out"? if so my mistake :P

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Comic Shaman
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 10:51:16 AM
Reply

A new IP from a new studio/creator seems like an especially fragile kind of enterprise.

On the other hand, I think an established studio like Bungie or Rockstar has a much better chance of whipping up excitement about new products than an unknown. Of course, those studios also have a lot of pressure to keep doing what they've done to bring in the reliable cash.

It's possible that as high-end game production requires bigger and bigger budgets, a start-up studio will have better luck making its reputation on downloadable, lower-priced games before tackling the bigger projects. I don't know if we've seen that happen yet, though. I mean, I know I'd be interested in a new IP from thatgamecompany, so maybe that could work.

Still, all in all I think it's good to remember that it wasn't too long ago that titles like Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed were new and unproven IPs. There's always hope.

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Teddie9
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 3:18:00 PM

It does help that those games came out closer to the start of the generation. People will buy something new along with their relatively new console.

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Highlander
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 12:11:06 PM
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Remember those articles about the impact of games like CoD on the diversity of the gamin industry?

Consider how much, in % terms, of the total gamer time and spend is sucked into Cod and similar games now. CoD itself has been so ridiculously successful it is sufficient to distort the industry alone, but it's not alone. The time and $$ lost to playing games like CoD are time and $$ lost to other games. When games need to sell 3+ million copies to break even because of the initial investment to make the game, it's tough to justify taking a risk on a new IP. Especially when you already know that a decent proportion of the gaming population is playing something else and not spending their $$.

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bigrailer19
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 3:24:58 PM

Yes this is all because of CoD.

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tes37
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 4:40:05 PM

I think CoD gives developers a false sense of the market. It is an anomaly and is not indicative of the market potential for other IP's.

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Lawless SXE
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 2:29:09 PM
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A new IP will never really manage to stand on its own legs without capturing attention. Dead Island managed it with that launch trailer and followed up with a quality production. Heavy Rain received a ton of coverage from sites emphasising its maturity, and Demon's Souls was well regarded because it didn't ditty around.

Fallout 3 was, effectively a new IP as were L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption, but they all came from renowned, trusted developers. The real problems lie in the remaining independent developers that team up with publishers that don't really care about them or their games enough to give them the attention that they deserve. Three were mentioned in the article, but let's not forget the efforts of Game Republic, Double Fine, Cavia, and even Platinum.

I have to go, but I may take this to the forums later... it's an interesting topic methinks.

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Lairfan
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 2:40:11 PM
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Gaming's in just as much trouble as the film industry at this point, the way I see it.

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bigrailer19
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 3:08:22 PM
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I don't think new ip's are dying out at all. In fact this generation some of the best games EVER have been released. That's within the past 6 years, so that relatively a short time. I mean the Uncharted series is doing fantastic, RDR did very well. And the developers, despite big time developers, benefitted greatly. But those games are still new ip's, and from my understanding Uncharted turned out way different than it was originally planned, so there is huge risk right there.

But look at others, Borderlands, Dead Space, Darksiders, inFamous, Heavy Rain, among many others, all succeeding. Also games like Dead Island that had great coverage from that debut trailer have benefitted quite well this generation. It went on to be well received. On top of that the developers are seemingly doing great.

As for Heavenly Sword, I'm sorry but that's on Ninja Theory. I'm a fan of their developing skills but they are an a** backwards company, that has no clear direction. Enslaved was not a success, but HS was, they just neglect that fact. Look how many people want a HS2. They don't see that! Now look they picked up a franchise that was already established to get some sales.

Point is there have been a lot of new ip' introduced this gen that have succeeded and have gone on to be huge franchises.

As for the studios going under, I really havnt seen a lot of that. There has been some though don't get me wrong. I'm not sure how to answer the question, because I'm not sure what it takes to be successful. It's unfortunate that 38 studios is in this position. My guess is mis-management, because Amular seemed to do very well. Same goes for LA Noire. It seems from what i understand is that whole ordeal was terribly mis-managed. Also, obviously the game had some great technology that no doubt was super expensive. So who knows.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 5/24/2012 3:22:33 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 6:56:43 PM

You're missing the fact that in previous generations, the MAJORITY of games that arrived were new IPs. In direct comparison to almost any past generation, this generation is EXTREMELY light on the new IPs.

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bigrailer19
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 10:36:13 PM

That's pretty much true. I'm just strictly focusing on the new ip's that have arrived this gen. And they've all done really well in my opinion. The fact that we are seeing less now than ever, I think is because of the success of those new ip's, and them turning into huge franchises.

I guess what I'm seeing is higher successes than failures.

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Ichigo40
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 5:11:16 PM
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Well its official...the studio let everyone go. To me this is sad news because it just goes to show that new IP's are facing an up-hill battle and I feel like studios will play it safe and just make a sequel/spin-off/revamp instead of coming up with something new.

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Crabba
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 6:56:27 PM
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Speaking of Kingdoms of Amalur/38 Studios, I just read on another gaming site that it's confirmed '38 Studios Lays Off Entire Staff'.

Now the crazy part about this article: 'In a press conference this afternoon, Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee said that the studio needed to sell three million copies of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning in order to break even, but the game ultimately sold 1.2 million. "The game failed," he added.'

Is it just me, or is it completely insane to assume and count on selling over THREE MILLION copies of a brand new IP?!? How can you put that kind of budget on not only a new IP, but from a new studio as well..

How about have a little bit of realistic expectations mixed in once in a while?!

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 8:39:34 PM

I agree, but they had some major talent working on KoAR. I wonder if it was doomed from the beginning. 3 million $ is unrealistic that's for sure. It came out at a great time too. Who ever managed this project didn't do a great job because they should have never been so far in the hole to require crazy sales like that. Such a tragedy.

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CrusaderForever
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 8:36:24 PM
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As sad in gaming history. I hope all of the people that were laid off are well and find a job very quickly. For the record, they did a great job on KoAR and I am proud to be playing it. Thanks 38 Studios for a great game!

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Raze22
Thursday, May 24, 2012 @ 9:47:08 PM
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Is there any feasible way of reducing production costs without hurting the overall game too badly?

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___________
Friday, May 25, 2012 @ 4:28:55 AM
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very sad to see which is why its so frustrating to see new innovative games sell so poorly while the sheep line up around the block and up the wall to buy every lot of last years reruns!
in other words sorry folks but you only have yourselves to blame!
if it was games like LA Noire and i am alive breaking the sales records and not last years reruns like COD and GTA than we would see a hell of allot more new IPs and new concepts.
but the sad truth is 99% of the games that break 6M units are the ones that are the least original and risky.
which is exactly why were in such a saturation of nothing but shooters and RPGs!
because yous have proven to publishers there the only games that sell so of course there the only games there going to release!

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