In the entertainment world, it is notoriously difficult to introduce something genuinely new and interesting to the masses. People fear change. Many would rather stick to their Shayne Ward CDs and rubbish Little Britain catchphrases.
But the games industry is different. We are blessed with an audience that genuinely knows its stuff. They read magazines; they look at websites; they play demos. They make their own minds up. The well-informed gamer is unlikely to rush out and buy a lazily constructed cash-in.
And this week’s number one – at this most crucial time of year – is evidence of that. For a brand new IP in a fiercely competitive market, Assassin’s Creed has done remarkably well.
As third-fastest selling title on Xbox 360 to date, it has only been beaten by Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 – two other game franchises that haven’t had to rely on a film/toy/TV licence to shift massive numbers.
With Warner Brothers making massive strides into the games industry and Fox/NewsCorp widely rumoured to be eyeing up the interactive entertainment business, maybe it is time for a step change in how publishers do business.
Giants like Warner and Fox aren’t going to build a dedicated development business in order to sit by and watch as games publishers milk their IP. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that they may wait until current licensing deals run out and claim them all back – by which time their games publishing businesses will be fully up to speed and ready to pounce on that coveted IP.
Existing licence holders need a Plan B. In just a few years’ time, the likes of EA, Activision and THQ are faced with the very real possibility of having far fewer licences to scrap over.
Now ‘traditional’ games publishers without ties to a media giant need more fresh ideas to fill the gap. The success of Assassin’s Creed suggests it is possible – and I don’t think anyone in the industry would be opposed to a call for greater innovation and more new, compelling IP.
Most people may be idiots, but games people aren’t. We can all be thankful for that.