When Do We See the Most New IP?

The assumption is that the right time to launch a new franchise is at the start of a console cycle; we looked at the numbers to see if new hardware really drives originality.

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Conventional wisdom in the gaming industry is that new intellectual properties (IP) are easiest to launch in the early days of a hardware cycle. Early adopters will be particularly hungry for new experiences. The relative paucity of software following a console launch means original IP don't have to work as hard to get attention. And if the new games take off, they can be iterated on multiple times--often reusing the game engine and some of the assets--before the next generation of consoles arrives and a more thorough revamp is called for.

A graph detailing how many new IP Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft produced each year this generation.

Supporters of the idea would point to Resistance, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, and Gears of War as evidence of the formula at work. Each of those was introduced in the first two years of this console cycle, and has spawned a trilogy with at least one spin-off title. In short, they've become exactly the sort of franchises that publishers don't want to launch new IP against, because it costs a lot of marketing dollars to convince consumers to give an unknown property a chance instead of the series they already know they like.

To see if the conventional wisdom holds true, GameSpot compiled a list of all retail releases Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have published in the current generation of consoles, and broke them down by platform and year to see if the data would offer any insights. Before digging into the numbers, a word about where they came from: We counted only North American retail releases, so Microsoft's Japanese Xbox 360 launch title Every Party didn't make the cut, and Nintendo's Xenoblade Chronicles counted toward 2012 (its US release date) instead of 2010 (Japan) or 2011 (Europe). On top of that, we didn't include compilations or HD re-releases unless we felt there was a significant amount of development effort put into the project. That means updates like the God of War HD Collection and Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Edition were not counted, but 343 Industries' remake Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was included.

There were also cases where we felt reasonable people could disagree on what counts as a new IP. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a new franchise, but given that it sells itself primarily on the strength of existing Sony franchises, we classified it as existing IP. The same was true for the Wii board game Fortune Street, which was new to US audiences, but prominently featured Mario and Dragon Quest characters on its packaging. The full list of games we included and whether we classified them as existing or new IP is available here.

With those caveats out of the way, here are four things we noticed.

Sony produces more games than either of its competitors.

1) 2010 was secretly a banner year for new IP thanks to Move, Kinect

The notion that new IP was more welcome earlier in this generation's lifespan was largely correct, with 2006 (the year the PS3 and Wii launched) boasting the highest percentage of new IP in the eight-year span we looked at. However, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo combined to publish just 10 current-generation console games that year, so the 60 percent originality rate is slightly tempered. Compare that to 2010, which saw 18 of the companies' 35 games based on new IP.

However, don't dismiss the idea of new hardware causing a spike in original software just yet. Even if the consoles weren't new, 2010 saw the introductions of the Kinect and PlayStation Move motion-control peripherals, new hardware that Microsoft and Sony established with original games to complement their capabilities. Seven of Sony's 11 original games that year were launch titles for the Move, while four of Microsoft's five original IP in 2010 were Kinect compatible. Remove those from the equation and the representation of new franchises drops from just over 50 percent to under 30 percent.

2) Nintendo consistently offers the fewest new IP

Among the big three console makers, Nintendo has been in the game the longest, and it's not afraid to mine that history to its advantage. In the Wii's seven-year lifespan, Nintendo has released only nine new IP. Even that's being slightly generous, as efforts like Wii Play, Wii Party, Wii Music, and Wii Fit are so reliant on the system branding and Miis that they could arguably have been considered pre-existing, which would have cut the Mario maker's production of original games almost in half.

In three of those years, Nintendo didn't release a single new IP for the Wii. Neither the Xbox 360 nor the PS3 has ever gone a year without at least one new IP, although Microsoft seems determined to break that streak this year. In only one of those years (2008) did Nintendo produce the most new IP, and even then it was tied with Microsoft, offering a less-than-staggering three original games.

After decades in the console business, Nintendo has the deepest catalog of IP to mine for new games.

3) Sony releases the most new IP

Whether you're talking quantity of titles or percentage of total output, Sony releases more original IP than Microsoft or Nintendo. The company has released 25 PS3 games based on original IP, or nearly 35 percent of its PS3 output this generation. Microsoft was a solid second for new IP with 17 titles (30 percent of its output), while the Wii trailed far behind with just nine original games for the Wii (18 percent of the Nintendo-published catalog).

In four of the PS3's seven years on the market, Sony has produced the most new IP (or tied for most new IP) of the big three console makers. In 2010, Sony launched a whopping 11 original IP into the marketplace. The Wii and Xbox 360 have never come close to matching that output, each having just a single year (2007) where they even published that many games, new or old. Nintendo has never launched more than three new IP for the Wii in a given year, while Microsoft topped out at five original games for the Xbox 360 in 2010 (four of which were Kinect titles).

Sony is apparently going to keep this trend going, as 2013 (which was not included in our assessment) is expected to see the launches of The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and if it doesn't make it into 2012, Tokyo Jungle. Meanwhile, Nintendo and Microsoft have provided virtually no visibility into original games they're publishing for their systems next year.

4) Microsoft's new IP spawns sequels and spin-offs more frequently

The reasoning goes that new IP is more common at the early part of a console cycle because it gives publishers a chance to create new franchises they can lean on for the whole generation. Given that, it's worth taking a look to see whose original efforts are more frequently followed up on. Microsoft has had the most success on that front, or at least showed the most determination to make a hit, as 11 of the company's 17 published Xbox 360 games (65 percent) have turned into franchises with sequels or follow-ups. Compare that to Nintendo, which converted four of its nine original games (44 percent) into new series, or Sony, which has seen just nine of the 25 new IP it published on the PS3 (36 percent) yield successors.

Microsoft's new IP have frequently spawned franchises spanning from Gears of War to Ninety-Nine Nights.

The numbers would appear to back up the conventional wisdom that console makers shy away from new IP later in their systems' life spans. If we take the Kinect and Move-dependent games out of the last four years' worth of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo offerings (because as we established before, the new hardware drove the new IP), we have a grand total of 11 new IP from the Big Three in the last four years combined (2009-2012), an average of less than one original game per console per year. If you look at the number for the first half of the console generation (2005-2008), there were 23 games based on new IP, averaging just under two per console per year. And keep in mind, the PS3 and the Wii weren't even out until late 2006, so if anything, that figure actually short-changes the new IP push from the first half of this generation.

On the other hand, if we don't take the Kinect and Move games out of the mix, the last four years have seen 28 new IP introduced into the market by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, compared to just 23 for the first four years of this generation. And then you could make the argument that the conventional wisdom is wrong.

While you could say it all depends on how someone wants to look at the numbers, perhaps the biggest takeaway is that it's not new specifically consoles that spur the creation of original intellectual properties in the industry today so much as at is new hardware of any significance.

Discussion

284 comments
Ultramarinus
Ultramarinus

This shows why Nintendo has became virtually irrelevant in the gaming market with tired, overworked franchises and why Sony has the most exclusives that are worth buying.

LordWaffleKing
LordWaffleKing

Nintendo makes smart moves. In terms of the games made, Nintendo gives us what we like. Sony, while making the most new IP's, are pretty much making a bunch of small turds. There are so many of them, but they're turds. Those few golden pieces of corn among the turds are really the only things that gamers like. And Microsoft uses sequels more often than Nintendo, contrary to popular belief. How many Zelda games are on the Wii? How many Halo games are on the XBox? Nintendo doesn't want to exhaust their series. Even with Mario games, which has the most installments by far, you can't say that they're all sequels to the same Mario series. Divide the number of Mario games by the number of series: Sports, Party, 3D Platformer, 2D Platformer, RPG's, Etc. Long story short, Nintendo has the best IP strategy. Don't exhaust your series, when making a new IP make sure to build it up strong until it's on par with the older ones and not small cornless turd IP's, and when making sequels keep them far enough apart to ensure your audience wanting more. And all of the mindless children who give the immediate "XBOX HELL YEAH" or "SONY RULEZ" upon seeing the results to the poll before giving thought to what the numbers mean, please try to contain yourselves. Big numbers DON'T always mean good. This isn't Sesame Street, where big numbers mean more cookies. Use those festering lumps of ooze that you leave unused in your head, collecting dust and mold.

SHADOSTRYKR
SHADOSTRYKR

this graph however doesn't show the quality of the new IP's, ps3 shows as having a significant leap in numbers of new IP's but how many of those have received sequels or were reviewed well. 

sonofMJJackson1
sonofMJJackson1

I really would like an update that will allow players to play your tunes when playing with all the game as similar to xbox360

csward
csward

I understand the way Gamespot is defining a "new IP" for the scope of the article, but I don't think it is a valid way to define what a "new IP" is. Just because legally no one else can make a Mario game, doesn't mean Mario hoops isn't a new IP within an existing IP, which is why I said earlier Nintendo is misrepresented.

Trogeton
Trogeton

Playstation and xbox ALL THE WAY Baby!  Either way

aj_marquez
aj_marquez

Mr. Sinclair, please define "IP". Is it just a new story, character and title? It seems that's the kind of IP you're talking about --and it makes sense, considering that that's the most commonly accepted definition--, so if it is, please consider touching on the topic of innovation. For some reason, people tend to assume that new IPs are innovative, and even though many try new things, they stick to proven mechanics for the most part, without even trying to improve on those mechanics.

 

As a PC gamer and someone who's somewhat addicted to novelty, I can say I'm much more interested in trying the new games based off of old IPs Nintendo makes, than the new IPs Sony and Microsoft make, mostly because I can get similar, if not much better, experiences to the latter on my platform of choice. In the end, even if Nintendo does not release new IPs constantly, it appears to me they are the most innovative.

Mugiwara-Kitten
Mugiwara-Kitten

This is a very informative and intelligent article discussing gaming. Never came across one like this before. 

Thirdrail1
Thirdrail1

The most amazing part of all of this is that so many parrot-minded gamers still call Shigeru Miyamoto, a tired old hack who hasn't done anything interesting in decades, a creative genius.

rezabehbin
rezabehbin

Nintendo dont know what the hell is doing after 1 year a new xbox &new playstation will show off and they will eat the wii U

soulless4now
soulless4now

I'm honestly not surprised with Nintendo. 

ForRealDoh
ForRealDoh

Great article , one thing that I got out of it is this Gen needed to die 2 years ago and also that economic fears kills risk taking and ingenuity . I fear that until we feel better about it . we will be playing Gears of War 7 on our XBOX 360 in 2014.

megakick
megakick

Wow Nintendo needs to try harder.

SolidTy
SolidTy

I think most of us gamers that have all the machines noticed this trend honestly....but I know there are those that don't own these platforms, and this may be shocking to them.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

What?  Now we're doing independent research with statistics and pie charts?!  Its like you are aspiring to be an actual journalistic website!!  At this rate someday soon I'll see an expose of some dark games industry secret here on the site.  What is this world coming to?

 

Nice work once again.

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

Brilliant article, and if patterns hold true, then once inbetween every 2 years the new IP graph peaks so 2013 is the year for new games... The Last Of Us and Watch Dogs anyone?

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Nice work, liked the article!

csward
csward

How can a game like Playstation Battle-Royale or Fortune Street not be considered a new IP? Just because they are "spin-off" titles, doesn't mean they are not new IPs. So games like Luigi's Mansion or Final Fantasy music game on 3DS, ect. are all not counted as new IPs, even though they are. They are an entirely new way to play an existing franchise, making it its own unique experience, thus a new IP. Only direct sequels/prequels/new additions (like AC/DC track pack or DLC) should be not counted.

 

Gamespot's angle is very skewed and flawed, I am disappointed. At least the results largely were unaffected, as 2006 and 2010 are the banner years for new IPs regardless. However, as Nintendo LOVES spinoff games, (Mario Tennis, Golf, Basketball, Soccer, Party, Fortune Street, ect.) they were shown as having an untrue number  and negative representation of new IPs.

 

I'm not a Nintendo Fanboi, quite the opposite, but I think Gamespot should use some common sense when deciding what an IP is. SIgh, decent artricle anyway.

zen120
zen120

Wow, this article is actually not biased or coming to some conclusion of a "winner".  Cool.

Baelath
Baelath

This guy is actually a video game journalist. An interesting article. Insight into the gaming industry. Thanks!

bschroth
bschroth

I liked this a lot. Sinclair does nice work. More please.

To take it one step further I'd say include the big publishers like EA, Activision and Ubisoft, but then the article would probably become a massive pile of work and be several pages long.

LtReviews
LtReviews

It gets even more dismal for Nintendo if you look at the amount of indie games released on each console.

 

Fez, Super Meat Boy, Trine, Limbo, etc.

 

Microsoft and Sony not only have more new IP's coming from themselves, but the greatest source of new Intellectual Properties, creativity, and originality, has and will always be, Indie Games.

 

Innovation starts from the bottom and goes up. That's Nintendo's biggest problem. They have their big guys at the top, and nothing else under them to provide a new foundation for new franchises.

 

Wiwex
Wiwex

You should write "intellectual properties" more instead of IP... its confusing and you can see that people's comments are completely lost

jasonredemption
jasonredemption

If you take a look at the list of games they used, you'll note that move specific and kinect specific games qualified as "new IPs" ironically (and I love the PS3) the move was merely a rip off of the wii and NONE of those "IPs" will be have proper sequels unless there's a new sports championship.  So the data this list is based on is bogus cause over half the games that qualified as "new IPs" in Gamespot's book wouldn't qualify as "new IPs" in most gamer's books.

angeloti83
angeloti83

ps3 is the place to be if you want innovation and variety...

qdowgmama
qdowgmama

Oh and I also feel like the data is missing a whole lot of games, no way did the 360 only release three games in 2006.

qdowgmama
qdowgmama

I think the article brings up a fair point, mainly for nintendo. It's true they appear to be relying on current franchises to keep them afloat but not a bad thing when you have so many incredibly original type of games. We didn't even see a Star Fox game on the wii yet that's a big title. So yes sony is making the most new IP's, but i don't think that means they're the most original.

 

Raelador21
Raelador21

One of the first things they teach students in print journalism is to establish any acronyms that are used. For instance when your entire article is about IP it might be beneficial to start with establishing what "IP" actually is for readers who don't know.

funny16
funny16

While it's true that this artical is not taking enough things into account, bottom line is Sony makes the most original games.  Nintendo still sells more because of the age of most of its custumers.  They have an endless supply of kids who buy the games thinking they are "new" without knowing all of there stuff has been around before they were even born.  Same reason these TMNT and other remade cartoons have high ratings.  Kids think there're new when they aren't.

Maelsthur
Maelsthur

 @ForRealDoh I thought gears sagas was dead with gears 3 but when I see epic games E3 con, I said " damn there is another gears game for all that kids sick for that" I think is enough of gears of war, bc there is not more innovation to do game play have to be same can't be change, trully theres is moar history, I prefered to read some book  or dlc for  that not another game ... must of gerars 3 game play is just like the previous secuels...

megakick
megakick

Where is Sega, I bet it's more then Nintendo. I bet most big companies have more IP then Nintendo.

Polybren
Polybren

 @csward Final Fantasy and Kratos and Mario and Luigi were all existing IP. Legally, nobody else could have made those games because Square Enix, Nintendo, Sony, etc. owned the characters included in them. 

 

That said, we understood there was no one right way to define what games should and shouldn't have counted, which is why we published that list of titles we considered.  We trusted that the audience would be able to see the limitations of the article and take that into account when determining how they felt about the conclusions.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @LtReviews 

I take it you haven't been on eShop lately, some of the 3DS's best titles come from there and Nintendo is looking to bring that same amount of attention to the Wii U's eShop. Trine 2 is also going to be (I think) launching with the Wii U.

LtReviews
LtReviews

 @jasonredemption also, if you take a look at the list of games, the wii has a crapload of it's own games that are technically rehashes of older games.

 

Yeah, Wii Sports and Wii Fit are TOTALLY different Intellectual properties. Forget the fact that the name's are only different by the second word. Kinda like Halo 1 and Halo 2.

 

Also, by your logic, the wii ripped off the motion sensing from computers long ago. Sixense did it first. So, if every subsequent motion sensing technology is ripped off from the wii, the wii wasn't the first to make it either.

 

 

Chico86_basic
Chico86_basic

 @angeloti83 I can't agree with that, but if you're looking at raw power then yes, it's the place to be. (After the PC that is)

Ovirew
Ovirew

 @qdowgmama The list is correct.  There were only 3 Microsoft-published 360 games in 2006 - Gears of War, Ninety-Nine Nights and Viva Pinata.  There was also an Arcade game compilation released on disc called XBox Live Arcade Unplugged, Vol. 1.

Ovirew
Ovirew

 @qdowgmama If being motion-controlled makes a lot of Nintendo's games from this gen original, then yes, they're original.  But I don't see how Mario, Zelda and Metroid are much more original than Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank and God of War.  Sony had Little Big Planet - people have been making their own side-scrolling levels and sharing them with friends for a few years now I guess.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @funny16 

So you haven't noticed the fact that most kids who love playing videogames have instead focused their attention on violent bloody games? Majority of the kids I know (and I work with kids so I know hundreds) would much rather play God of War, CoD, and Gears of War instead of Mario and Zelda. The reason Nintendo's core franchises still sell extremely well because there are still millions of gamers who love what Nintendo has to offer, which is an incredibly polished, beautifully crafted, extremely fun and lasting gaming experience that never relies on the obvious "Mature" themes as a selling point.

LtReviews
LtReviews

 @abHS4L88 

hmmm, something tells me the existence of indie game's on Nintendo property doesn't refute the fact they have the least of all the other major publishers.

 

Did you really think that I wasn't aware of the existence of world of goo? Yes, there are indie game's on Nintendo systems. But you'd be delusional (well, very delusional) to think that Nintendo doesn't have the most lackluster indie support of all console makers by HUGE margins.

 

The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging it. Your solution seems to be "well, they are going to launch an indie game on their new console that was already released a year ago!"

zen120
zen120

 @LtReviews

 But see, nintendo popularized it in gaming.  I hadn't even heard of sixense until a month ago.

angeloti83
angeloti83

 @Chico86_basic  well PC isn´t exactly the most creative platform around... most of its games are rts... while sony develops all kinds of games suitable for any kind of gamer,( uncharted, infamous, GOW, resistance, journey) so i guess my friend, if you are looking for creativity... SONY is the place to be. ;)

funny16
funny16

 @abHS4L88

I said most not all. "Majority of the kids I know (and I work with kids so I know hundreds) would much rather play God of War, CoD, and Gears of War instead of Mario and Zelda." Thats called growing up. That time when you stop playing with toys and start talking about girls

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @LtReviews 

I never said that Nintendo doesn't have the worst support for Indie gaming, I've only purchased two WiiWare games ever whereas I got 4 XBLA games and want to get another. What I'm saying is that Nintendo is doing something about it and eShop is doing a great job of getting great content and will also be part of the Wii U so while Nintendo does have some catching up to do, they're on the right track, especially since the Wii U is looking like an amazing platform for Indie developers to go nuts with.

 

So why don't you properly read my response before going and calling me delusional. 

Chico86_basic
Chico86_basic

@LtReviews

Sixense? Never heard of it before. The thing is, Nintendo was the first company to make motion sensing work this well when it comes to videogames and that's what matters the most. Even Sony and Microsoft are still trying to replicate those experiences to this day! Technology alone without good implementation is useless. I don't understand why people are so obsessed with specs and numbers (like new IPs per year) nowadays when it comes to gaming. In my eyes, Super Mario Galaxy alone is worth more than 90% of new IPs. But oh wait… it's Super Mario, so it's not a new IP! They should have changed character model so the numbers would be higher.

 

LtReviews
LtReviews

 @zen120 

So, because sixense made it, but it wasn't popular, you've come to the conclusion that Nintendo invented the technology?

 

I brought up sixense to prove that Nintendo did not pioneer motion sensing technology for games, and therefore it was hypocritical to say they stole it.

 

Oh, but wait! Nintendo made it popular??? Well, I guess we should just ignore the fact that they weren't the first to put motion sensing controls in gaming, because we didn't hear about the other guys!

 

Too bad for sixense, if only they had been a console making company like Nintendo, they would have gotten actual credit for making their product...

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @funny16 

No, these are kids who range from kindergarden to 6th grade. It's not growing up, it's what the media is highlighting and telling these kids that these are what's cool.