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Published on April 1st, 2016 | by Walter Lopez

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The Biggest Obstacle to New IPs: Nostalgia

Take a moment to look over your library of games or is asking you to look over the games on your hard drive a more accurate way to take inventory of the games in your possession? Regardless of how you maintain your game titles in order, quickly look over your games. Mentally take in an inventory of the games and make note of the number of sequels, HD remasters, or last gen emulation. Next, take in the games that are new to this generation. Isolate all the games that are spiritual successors or tie-ins to old titles. Now, how many games are left?

The reason I asked you look over your library of games is to prove that new IPs are hard to find in this current generation of consoles. While there are loads of reasons to explain the lack of new IPs, (amount of money It costs to develop and launch games being a critical one) I can’t help but look at the industry and think that our obsession with recreating childhood experiences is playing a huge role in keeping the greater masses from investing in something new. Nor can I blame publishers from limiting the risk involved in games development by cashing in on the demand of proven game titles. What I ask of you reading this to do is challenge your purchasing patterns.

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Nintendo is an obvious example of a publisher that pumps out games aimed at recapturing nostalgia for financial gain. We all have that friend that buys their console with the hopes of getting that Metroid or Zelda game that perfectly takes them back to the times of the Super Nintendo or Nintendo 64. If memory serves right, Nintendo was the first to dedicate online store space to retro releases as well with the virtual console. An absolutely brilliant move with hindsight. It only took a short amount of time for Sony and Xbox to see the brilliance in that strategy before the market saw more dives into the market of retro gaming. PlayStation Classics hit the market then HD remasters followed and now supplementing new releases by either remaking or re-releasing old games to help drive interest into new additions to a franchise are a norm. One might say it is the ultimate risk assessment or a proven marketing strategy.

Think back to the announcement of Gears of War Ultimate Edition and the accompanying mention of a brand new addition to the franchise. Not only did they offer you a chance to walk back into the now classic Xbox 360 game, but it now came with access to the Gears of War 4 beta. Which has been recently announced to set up a new trilogy of games for the franchise. So, not only have they tapped into the games industry’s obsession with nostalgic gaming, they have in-turn manipulated themselves into re-launching the franchise by calling on past gamers and new alike. Again, brilliance in both risk management and marketing.

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So, again I ask you to take a hard look at your purchasing pattern and decide if it will lead towards populating your game library (virtual or physical) with titles that aren’t extensions of previous game releases. The pessimist might think of the effects of the nostalgia bubble bursting on the games industry and the scramble that might follow if enough revenue shrinks away on not only the publisher but the various companies that live off of it. While the optimist would think that this approach only steers the industry further, so why complain if I can have ice cream with my pie in the process? There are strong arguments to either side with various pros and cons but if you sit on the side of the fence that is craving to build new memories around something new and innovative. You just might find yourself questioning the grip nostalgia has on the gaming industry.

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