January 9th, 2009


Does new IP "not work"? I guess that depends on what "work" means, doesn't it?


I find little to disagree with in this article. I think his point near the end about content per dollar is very cogent. It's the same one I made in comments to my post here.

But I also think we're missing a larger issue. Namely, the definition of "success". Looking at his graph, it appears that Dead Space for the 360 sold approx 500k copies. In other words, it sold exactly the same number of units as Left 4 Dead for the 360. So, is new IP "not working"? Well, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, I guess that depends what your definition of "working" is. If selling half a million copies is "not a success", if "selling as well as Left 4 Dead" is not considered a success... okay then, Dead Space (and new IP in general) is not a success.

Frankly I think the problem here is what's being compared to what. As the author points out, most people probably won Dead Space fairly quickly, sold it, thus allowing other people to buy it used instead of new. People probably don't do this with Madden (or other sports games) because those inherently have replay value, and thus nobody sells them. Story-based games are never going to sell as many units as sports based games for exactly this reason. This does not, however, say anything about the quality of sports games vs. the quality of "new ip".

What is boils down to is, if all you want is money, then just throw away any new or original ideas and stick with mindlessly copying what's successful. (I.e., release yet another in the endless line of Madden sequels.) No critic or player will ever love you, nobody will ever give you an award for innovation, you'll never have "buzz." But if all you want is money, then what possible reason do you have to care about those things? EA proved that you can make derivative drek that everyone (including your own employees) hates and bashes you for, and you will still make a fuck-ton of money.

So, I ask these companies, what's your problem? Why don't you just be honest? Throw a press conference and say "we're releasing Madden 2083 - Same Old Football Game For The 83rd Time, and we'll be making a wad of cash as big as France off it. Don't like that? Then don't buy the game. And don't work here, either. By the way, just look at how our stock is soaring!"

Oh, wait, I see. Yeah, I get it. You want it both ways. You want to claim that you're creative and innovative and make great new things. But you don't want to live the required starving artist lifestyle that goes with those things. Well, sorry, you can't. The highest paying jobs are the same ones that are the most unpleasant and stupid. That's why it requires so much money to make people do them! Money is something people give you in exchange for annoyance - dealing with the stupid bozos and morons every day. If you want a lot of money, then prepare to deal with a lot of bozos.

You become what you value. If you value money, you probably won't make great art (except perhaps by luck). If you value great art, you probably won't make a lot of money (except perhaps by luck). Pick one or the other. Not both.