We've heard many people complaining about a lack of innovation within the video games industry at the moment, due to a reliance on existing IPs. We've also heard publishers say that launching a new IP towards the end of a console generation is risky, because it's difficult to get noticed. That doesn't stop them from trying, but it's sad that their efforts fall flat and it means that the new IPs they try to make are often doomed to fail not long after they're announced.
There are some perfect examples coming out in the next couple of weeks, all from big name publishers. The first would be NeverDead, which is a new game from Konami that has been developed by Rebellion. I first saw this title at E3 2011 and was impressed by its rather different gameplay mechanics - you can almost never die, hence the title. Since that time, I've seen and heard very little about the game. Few efforts have been made to raise the hype and if it manages to sell well, it'll be a big surprise in my opinion. It'll most likely be a slow burner if review scores are good.
Two other examples coming around the same time are Inversion from Namco Bandai and Saber Interactive, and Binary Domain from Sega and their Yakuza studio. Again, both games with interesting mechanics/settings, but games that have limited hype associated with them.
Asura's Wrath can also be thrown into a similar boat, because aside from the recent demo released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Marketplace, there's been almost no attention placed upon it.
You have to ask yourself why. I mean, the publishers have chosen to throw down the money to develop the game, but after that, it's essentially left to fend for itself. Yes, Namco Bandai has done small things to help promote Inversion, but it pales in comparison to their efforts for Dark Souls, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Soulcalibur V. It's like these games are already written off, with the publisher hoping they may just be a hit on their own, without them doing much.
There have been numerous instances where this has been the case, with Just Dance being a prime example. When it first launched, Ubisoft did very little promotion and it charted terribly - they didn't expect it to do very well. However, through some natural fluke, its sales skyrocketed because of word of mouth and a multi-million pound mega franchise has now spawned.
In the case of the aforementioned titles, it's almost feels like the publisher is only making the games to satisfy the demands of fans. If the games fail, they will still be able to act all noble and say: "look, we tried, but it didn't work out. This is why we stick to our established franchises - we are a business after all." It might sound cynical, but it does seem to be a growing trend.
The disappointing thing for these developers is that there are other new IPs launching around the same time which will hopefully not suffer the same fate. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, for example, has been backed strongly by EA, and while Catherine is no longer a new IP in terms of the worldwide gaming landscape, Atlus' promotion of it pre-launch in North America was a key driver behind its success.
When looking at what people are searching for at the moment, it's a clear indication of how non-existent these three games are in the grand scheme of things.
Kingdoms of Amalur has over 5 times the amount of buzz right now when looking at people using search engines to find out more information. In this instance, only the word "amalur" was used, as it isn't a word associated with anything else. If "Kingdom of Amalur" is used, it doesn't make much difference though.
The situation gets even worse for our lesser known new IPs when compared to some other recognised brands releasing around the same time.
As you can see, due to Binary Domain's recent postponement, it gets pushed it more in-line with Mass Effect 3, while NeverDead is due to release on the same day as Final Fantasy XIII-2, Soulcalibur V, the Devil May Cry HD Collection and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.
In short, if people are only going to buy a few games over the next month, it's likely that NeverDead, Binary Domain and Inversion won't enter their minds - not unless the review scores make some heads turn for the right reasons. But even if they are, there are so many other recognised titles that are releasing around the same time, and let's not forget the PlayStation Vita. There's been a bit of buzz recently about Binary Domain, as shown by the small blips on the graph, but you can see that Kingdom of Amalur started the hype train a long time ago, not a few weeks before launch.
Perhaps these new IPs were never meant to change the industry, but why shouldn't they have at least been given the chance? Everyone knows that new IPs need a push to get going and that's just experience. It's rarely the first game in a franchise that sells the most, but they at least need to be given a little push to help them warrant a second or third iteration. It feels as though some of the games coming out in the next few weeks never had a chance.