Friday, 5 October 2012

New IPs vs. New Ideas

Every year in the gaming industry sees a bevy of sequels, and only a handful of new games. With every sequel comes at least 3 dozen (this figure was compiled via a hugely scientific survey) complaints in comments sections and on forums that there are never new ideas and all we get is the same thing as the year before whether it be in the form of Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2 or Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. People complain because they see these sequels as a lack of new ideas but I want to ask two things. Are masses of sequels bad and do sequels signify a lack of ideas? In other words is it new IPs or is it new ideas that are the key thing gaming needs to stay fresh?

Look at a series like Mario, I mean the 3D Mario, and tell me that each game hasn't had masses of new ideas to keep the series fresh and fun. Go on, tell me. Exactly, you can't. Mario 64, Sunshine, Galaxy and Galaxy 2 all show huge leaps forward and each show a whole new level of ideas and creativity, they are disc shaped lumps of proof that new IPs are not needed to keep gaming fresh and interesting and full of the sort of creativity that the medium thrives off of.

Likewise look at last year's Skyrim and then compare it to Oblivion and you'll see that they are worlds apart in terms of ideas. Skyrim, the fifth entry in a series that is over a decade old, manages to be the freshest and most enjoyable entry in the series. Look at Resident Evil 6, love it or hate it you can't possibly deny that it's full of ideas that the other games in the series have not featured. Even if you give it nothing out of ten you can't say that it isn't unique in the series, that it isn't fresh and that it hasn't reinvented the franchise.

In case you hadn't noticed I have nothing against sequels.

But then you also have a game like Dishonoured, a game which I'm happy to predict will be this year's game of the year. It's a whole new IP filled with fresh ideas and should be a fantastic experience. But does the fact that its a new IP really merit the extra excitement? Shouldn't it be good enough just with the gameplay ideas, if it were to be the next instalment in an established series but still have the unique gameplay would it have garnered as much attention? Probably not and I don't think this is right. It speaks of a deep rooted cynicism in the industry and an assumption that sequels just mean publishers are too money hungry and developers either don't have any new ideas or don't have the permission to use them. Though this can occasionally be true in the majority of cases it's nonsense founded on little more than ignorance and cynicism.

Look back at this year's E3, what game comes to mind? Watch Dogs? Thought so. Why? Because its a new series not because of its new gameplay ideas. If a stealth series like Splinter Cell or Metal Gear had those same innovative ideas and Watch Dogs didn't exist the excitement would be nowhere near as high as it is. This is a ludicrous situation for the industry to be in and causes so many unnecessary arguments over IPs vs. iteration. I think we're fine as we are, with lots of sequels and a steady stream of new IPs. I don't want the ratio to be the other way around, I'm happy with having more sequels than there are new IPs so long as the new ideas keep coming.

Want more evidence? Then look at Black Ops 2, it could have been a carbon copy of the last Call of Duty and it would have sold in the millions but Activision and Treyarch aren't playing it safe, instead they are making some huge and some small changes to the gameplay, music and story to keep the game fresh and I'd be willing to bet anyone that it will be a unique entry in the series and will go up next to Mario Galaxy in my pile of evidence that sequels can be full of new ideas and fresh things to keep the series inventive.

So what do you think? Is the lack of new IPs a bad thing? Are IPs the be all and end all? I don't think so, I like sequels because I become invested in franchises and I think the current amount of new IPs is pretty good but I might be mad and I don't mind if you want to tell me that I am.

1 comment:

  1. Once again you have some good points. I have nothing against sequels either they work for me.

    It's good to have a choice, it's up to each gamer what they play. For me a good mix keeps the week and certainly the weekend covered. Like the new Borderlands by the way

    Game on

    D B