Where are the new IPs?

Mass Effect 3, UNCHARTED 3, Resistance 3, The Elder Scrolls V — these are all games that were announced at the Spike Video Game Awards. What else do they have in common? They are all sequels that will be coming out in 2011. Looking back at the VGAs there was a noticeable lack of new IPs. The only one revealed was inSANE in a teaser trailer, which did not show much at all and will be coming out in… 2013. It’s not just those games announced at the VGAs though; there are plenty more sequels coming out next year, perhaps too many.

It is true that a lot of those sequels are follow-ups to great games, but part of me is worried about feeling burnt out by the lack of original titles. Of course I love exploring the Mass Effect universe and visiting wondrous locales with Nathan Drake, but at a very basic level I have been through all that before. The excitement that comes from experiencing an entirely new game for the first time can’t be replicated, and there could be a sore lack of that in 2011. A prime example from this year is BioShock 2. It was a very good game that made improvements on the first, but here we are at the end of the year and it’s seemed to fade away from many people’s memories. The fact is that people have moved on from Rapture. Exploring that disturbing underwater city for the first time was amazing, but it lost most of that magic the second time around.

What’s more troublesome about the 2011 lineup is the possibility of a trend starting. The smart business move is to follow the money, so when sequels are proving to be wildly successful, publishers and developers are less likely to take risks. In fact this year we started to see a glimpse of that when Call of Duty: Black Ops was released just a year after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. And a few weeks ago Ubisoft announced that another “big” Assassin’s Creed game will be coming out next year. As much as I love that series I’m not sure I want three games in three consecutive years. This could possibly lead to more and more publishers and developers sticking with one key franchise rather than exploring new options.


But let’s not forget that just a few years ago the original BioShock and Assassin’s Creed came out. These new IPs were fresh and unique games that managed to be successful while taking risks. It payed off both financially and critically for the respective teams and showed that games don’t need to be overly derivative of other popular franchises to make an impact. That focus has seemed to fade away from retail titles since then, and the downloadable market is taking the reins. Games like LIMBO and Super Meat Boy are fantastic and creative, but they can only go so far considering their distinction as downloadable games. So it’s up to larger teams to harness some of that creative energy and come up with more innovative games for the retail marketplace.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy sequels. UNCHARTED 2 is one of my all-time favorite games and I could not be more excited to play the third installment. And I’m not saying I don’t want BioWare to make Dragon Age II or Mass Effect 3. What I hope is that the sheer volume of developers that go out on a limb and create new IPs increases throughout the years rather than diminishing altogether. Maybe 2011 is just something of an anomaly and the following years won’t be so conspicuously heavy on sequels.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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