New IP does not necessarily mean new ideas, argues MCV editor Christopher Dring
Shigeru Miyamoto told Edge magazine this month that Splatoon – the co-op ink shooter which was my personal game of the show at E3 – was almost a Mario game.
Instead the firm opted against using the portly plumber and created these new squid-human hybrid characters. As a result, Splatoon will be one of the first new IPs from Nintendo for quite some time.
Of course, Nintendo has been applauded for taking the plunge and creating an entirely new brand. But in truth, it shouldn’t matter. And really, Nintendo should have slapped Mario’s gurning face on the box.
NEW BRANDS, SAME GAMES
The rise of the new IP in recent months has been pronounced. And it is a good thing. This year alone we’ve witnessed the birth of three new super-franchises: Titanfall, Watch Dogs and Destiny.
It was genuinely refreshing when MCV travelled to Gamescom and it was almost entirely new IP we experienced. Sequels were in short supply. Yet, would Titanfall be any less inventive if it had Call of Duty plastered on the box? Would people ignore Destiny’s innovation if it had been called Halo 5?
New ideas are what the industry should be craving. And there are a lot of exciting new concepts heading to market. Whether it is a new IP or not shouldn’t matter. All the term ‘new IP’ means is ‘new brand’.
Nintendo has often faced criticism for relying too heavily on the same old faces (perhaps that’s why Splatoon doesn’t feature any of the firm’s iconic names). Yet who really loses out from reusing characters?
Luigi’s Mansion, Wario Ware, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Captain Toad are not just new games in an established franchise. They are all clever new ideas with just a familiar face on the box.
The same goes for Battlefield: Hardline, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. They could easily have been entirely new IP, but their publishers utilised existing brands to ensure they got the attention they deserved.
That’s not a bad thing; if you’re a company like Nintendo, with a long history and a huge cast of characters, it would be almost irresponsible not to use them.
"‘New IP’ is not what we mean when we say we’re craving something unique. And if game is aligned with a pre-existing series, that doesn’t mean we should look upon it negatively."
Christopher Dring, MCV
It is a brave decision to go it alone. I, for one, am excited for all the new games and brands that are coming to market.
But ‘new IP’ is not really what we should mean when we say we’re craving something unique. And just because the game may be aligned with a pre-existing series, that doesn’t mean we should look upon it negatively.
Splatoon is a delightful game that deserves to do well. And it’s a bold move from Nintendo to launch an original brand on a struggling system.
Yet you can’t help but feel it would have a better chance had it been called Mario Splat.