The Importance of New IP

IP stands for intellectual property, and it essentially means a brand-new series, not a continuation of an existing series.

In order for the video game industry to grow and advance, it is vital designers regularly create new characters and develop new game play styles to push gamers’ imaginations and blow their expectations. We are all familiar with the rap sequels get in the film business (which is they are rarely as good as the first movie), and the same trend transfers over to video games. Sequels have this reputation because the developers want to match the level of success they attained with the original and they are hesitant to make significant changes for fear of making players angry that it was too dissimilar to the game they loved. As a result, the experience doesn’t feel as new or imaginative, and players feel they have done most of what the game offers before.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if developers planned out a trilogy before they even started designing the first game in the series? In this case the narrative would be much more rich and it would flow between the three games. Bioware did exactly that with their Mass Effect trilogy, and they enjoyed quite a lot of success with all three titles, and each game received much praise (not to say there isn’t a way for Bioware to improve, but they’ve taken a step which few developers have). When a developer doesn’t give much thought beyond the game they are currently working, then each successive one feels slightly out of place, as if it’s trying to be connected to another game but it doesn’t feel like one experience.

When a game company continually uses a character they’ve had success with, it slows video games’ progress down. Once you’ve created a character, you’ve essentially established what that character can and can’t do, so it becomes harder to innovate in as many ways. You can only create a different setting, and even then not always. The Mario games are built on a solid foundation, and they aren’t about a deep story, so there is rarely a Mario game that isn’t fun to play, but with that being said the best Mario games are the ones which innovate and break new ground with the medium. For example, Super Mario Galaxy turned the Mario series upside down, often literally, with its fresh gravity physics, and is regarded as one of the greatest games of this generation (I personally have completed it four times). However, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released only three years later and it just didn’t seem nearly as compelling anymore (I technically haven’t even completed it once, although I am on the last level, which is too hard and I don’t care enough to relentlessly pursue the ending).

So, in short, the best video games are often the ones which we aren’t familiar with and are surprised by (such as Professor Layton. The series has gone downhill rapidly, but the first game is an experience I will always treasure). Sometimes sequels make sense, and they certainly have their place, but a plea to developers…make sure you are creating a sequel for a poignant purpose, and not just because a game is popular. Pretty please.

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