Never one to be shy with his opinions, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has riled some segments of the fanbase by stating in an interview with “Economist.com” on August 13th:
“A small segment of very vocal gamers say everything has to be new and different every year. Actually, people are happy with existing franchises, provided you innovate within them.”
It’s hard to argue the point when the best sellers list for modern consoles show a lot of 3′s and 4′s after the titles. In fact, of the top 10 sellers on the 360, PS3 and Wii you’re hard pressed to find original IPs.
Gears of War and Saints Row stand out on the Xbox 360 list, I don’t think you can really count Marvel Ultimate Alliance since first, it was a pack in with the hardware for quite some time and second, it’s an extension of the two similarly themed X-Men games that preceeded it. The PlayStation 3 list has MotorStorm (again, a pack in), Uncharted and Heavenly Sword. The Wii has Wii Sports (pack in), Wii Play and Wii Fit.
So, out of the thirty best selling games across three platforms the best we can do is SIX original IP properties, NINE if you count the three pack ins.
This year, original titles haven’t fared well with the fanbase. Titles like Mirror’s Edge initially showed great promise but were quickly relegated to the bargain bins. Prototype and Infamous came out strong, selling 600,000 and 500,000 units respectively and then vanished without a trace. The Conduit, as with most mature Wii titles, never had a chance and follows Mad World and No More Heroes into the void.
What Kotick fails to take into account is gaming ennui. Yes, sequels sell… but WHICH sequels is a continually rotating list. If we were to roll back the clock a bit and look at previous top sellers we’d see franchises that are long since gone. Tomb Raider comes to mind, along with Wipeout, Twisted Metal, and Splinter Cell. These franchises were mined and mined and eventually played out.
Some companies have figured this out, and when they get a toe hold with a new IP such as Bioshock or Assassin’s Creed they try to follow-up within a year or so. I’m sure Bioshock 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 will do well – whenever they come out – but when the public turns against them it will be time to come up with something new. Let’s hope Kotick figures that out before he ends up with a Guitar Hero that finally flops.