“Nothing more difficult” than new IP launch

Treasure Island Dizzy

Let’s get the facts out of the way first, Christian Svensson, Capcom’s VP, strategic planning and business development, has given an interview to GamesIndustry.biz in which he said “There is nothing more difficult in this business than launching new IP”. This is one of the greatest truths of video game marketing and it divides the industry into three sorts of people.

The first are those who don’t know how difficult it is but do it anyway, only to usually fail. Obviously these people don’t last long in business. They had nearly died out until the low cost of entry to iPhone publishing brought whole new swathes of innocents to the slaughter.

The second are those who know exactly how difficult it is so they don’t do it. Instead they churn out sequels and publish their IP on every single platform imaginable. This can make you money, but every brand has a lifecycle, so they are not building any value for the future.

The third group are those who understand the importance and value of creating new brands. They use hard work, skill and craft to nurture their offspring in the world. They persevere through adversity and toil till they have built something of true value.

The biggest problem it when a publisher (let’s say EA) tries to make the transition from the second group above to the third. If a marketing team has lured themselves into the easy security of sequels and licensed products then a new, original IP will come as a complete culture shock. They need to create brand values that have resonance and which work in the market. They need to communicate totally new ideas and concepts to a global audience. The challenge is vast. But then it is never easy to build true value.

At Codemasters I worked on several brand new IPs that went on to be massive sellers and chart successes, the Dizzy series and Flashpoint, for instance. In the early 2000s we had a load of established franchises that were regular money in the bank: Colin McRae, LMA Football Manager, TOCA/Race Driver, Snooker, Music, Micro Machines etc.  But we went through a phase of introducing a new brand, of doing all the hard work, then not following it up. Obviously Flashpoint is the most famous of these (an 8 year gap between releases!!), but there were others like Severance Blade of Darkness, Prisoner of War, Insane, Second Sight and Perimeter. All of which needed nurturing and treating as a brand, but which weren’t. So much lost potential.

And talking of lost potential, when is someone going to have the sense to relaunch the Dizzy brand? It was truly massive before the falling out between the Olivers and the Darlings. It was the 8 bit computer equivalent of Mario. A production line of number one hits. Even today the Dizzy brand still has resonance. It is almost unbelievable that nobody has had the gumption to run with this. Especially when you see some of the rubbish IPs that publishers throw money at.

8 comments ↓

#1 IronM@sk on 11.25.09 at 9:34 am

Perhaps you should go back to work for Codies Bruce. It seems they don’t have a lot of respect for popular brands anymore after they turned the latest Colin MacRae game into a half-hearted piece of Americanised poop.

The only thing it has going for it is great graphics and a great driving/drifting mechanic. But it is a huge departure from the originals, tried to cover to much ground and as a result, lacked enough content to make it a truly long lasting game. There’s also no promise of DLC.

All the friends I have made playing DiRT 2 are now off playing Modern Warfare 2 and it’s difficult to get a lobby going. Even when you do find 4 players to start a lobby you end up just sitting there waiting for opponents because the player pool is drying up. And this it before the PC version has even launched.

#2 Fran on 11.25.09 at 10:08 am

To be fair though, everyone (apart from me:)) is off playing Modern Warfare 2 right now. Personally I think it’s pants, but millions of gamers can’t be wrong.

The Modern Warfare franchise is a real example of something that has truly become bigger than itself. Modern Warfare 3 could be the biggest load of shit, and it’d still sell.

#3 Benoit Lelievre on 11.25.09 at 12:49 pm

I don’t play MW2 neither Fran. I think it’s just a nicely coated Counterstrike. Nothing new in this game except for some new clothes. But again, I’m no multiplayer enthusiast.

Who do you guys think are the best publishers for implementing new IPs? From the top of my head you have to love Ubisoft for making Assassins Creed such an instant success. Rockstar also seem pretty fearless and driven when it comes to launch new and groundbreaking stuff.

#4 Steve L on 11.25.09 at 2:16 pm

If they released a new Dizzy title, that had the same quality as Treasure Island Dizzy did back in the day, I would buy it without hesitation.

XBLA would be a wonderful vehicle for such a thing.

#5 BC on 11.25.09 at 4:05 pm

*cough*Clover*cough*

Dizzy wouldn’t work if it was relaunched. Hell, Sonic the Hedgehog is dated now and doesn’t appeal anymore. I’d be stunned if enough of the gaming market would know who Dizzy is.

But let the nice memories live on :D

#6 Drealmer on 11.25.09 at 5:42 pm

Kudos for reminding me of Insane, what a cool game! I think that was the true successor of the awesome Big Red Racing.

#7 woodins on 11.25.09 at 6:10 pm

Feel sorry for the devs of Assassins Creed 2. I hate to say it, but they were stuck between a rock and a hard place with regards to marketing and release dates. Release/market (with less cash for ads, promo events etc.) in the same month as MW2? Or, hold it back and compete with EVERYONE in January?

Wish firms would finally get over this whole “release everything in Q4″. I had sooo much spare cash over the summer (what with missing out on my annual summer holiday), all I had to buy was “Arkham Asylum”. Now I’m skint with xmas and the bills in, I’m glad everyone had MW2 fear lol. But I do digress.

They tackled all the probs of the first game and have released a really good (but not revolutionary) tidy game. Did all the dev diaries etc and appropriate viral marketing that us internet nerds now demand, but you get the feeling no one cared as they were all focused on MW2. Hope its a slow-burner, as it really is a well-made game, and a really good example of devs not taking things too personal and listening to the gamer.

You probably think I’m mental, but the gaming industry’s growth and development seems to be mirroring that of the film industry. I feel like we are stuck in the late 80′s/ early 90′s . . . . . . . . You know, Terminator 2, Die Hard 2 etc are all out. All we have are big action blockbusters with interchangeable scripts etc. I loved that when I was younger, but looking back on that period, it was a bit sterile, wasn’t it? Big bad explosions, with nothing much going on. You could argue CGI films of today are just as bad, but at least we have some good alternative indie films that offer plot, storyline etc.

Just like in the film industry, I’m holding out for some brave dev (and who knows, it may come from the indie scene via the PC) who brings us our “Taratino moment”. When two hitman were driving along to their grim morning appointment, talking about what they called a Quarter pounder in France, suddenly having a “roided up” (Marcus Fenix take note), two dimensional hero, who usually had a machine gun in each hand making pithy quips as he despathed another thirty nameless bad guys, just wasn’t enough anymore. Was it any wonder Arnie and co’s popularity in the box office began to wane? Audiences needed more, we had seen it all before. I dont know in what form this Tarantino moment will happen, but I’m almost 100% sure its not with Natal, 3-D (COD Modern Warfare 4 in glorious 3D! The same stuff, but you can see the frag grenades coming towards you, wow so original!), or casual games either. COD, Master Chief, Mario etc. will always have a place (just like the crummy summer blockbusters ala “Transformers 3: Big giant washing machines chaotically smash around the screen incomprehensibly” will always get bums on seats), but there is going to have to be an evolution in not just the storyline and mechanics, but also the dev process if this industry is going to move on. I mean, maybe im giving myself too much importance here, but 25+’s like myself are going to be the only ones that are going to have the disposable income to push sales forward. If Bruce has his way, and “evil” little 15yr olds like my brother who part-ex their games because they are on a paper round budget are frozen out by digital downloads, people like me with our jobs and that are gonna be the only ones that can pay for these games. We need to be catered for. And as someone else already mentioned, I burnt out my online FPS addiction on 32 MAN SERVERS on CS years ago. I doubt it will happen anytime soon. We got to endure the motion, 3-D genres, and also the MMORPG revolution that will eventually hit the console once they get the pricing structure sorted (LIVE style payment cards, bet ya. Only way they will get teenage boys to get round it as Mum and Dad will always be wary of subbing their socially inept son’s gaming habit via their debit/credit cards). Will happen one day though (I hope).

Bit lengthy, thanks for reading if you made it this far lol.

#8 Deejay on 02.21.10 at 7:31 pm

@BC

I tried, in my own way :)

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