The current generation of consoles has been long-winded. Microsoft kicked off the generation when the Xbox 360 arrived all the way back in 2005, and seven years later innovation has been stifled in the field of new intellectual properties.
This has been largely in part to the business model that has held true for publishers, new intellectual properties do best when released within 24 months of a new console release. To maximize their return on investment in developing a new IP, companies like EA must release these titles at the right time. According to a recent interview with Frank Gibeau of EA, that time is at the launch of the next-gen Xbox 720 or PS4. At least it is for EA.
Gibeau told GI.biz: “The time to launch an IP is at the front-end of the hardware cycle, and if you look historically the majority of new IPs are introduced within the first 24 months of each cycle of hardware platforms.”
“Right now, we’re working on three to five new IPs for the next gen, and in this cycle we’ve been directing our innovation into existing franchises…The market doesn’t reward new IPs this late in the cycle. They end up doing okay, but not really breaking through,” Gibeau added.
This generation also saw a rise in the mobile and social gaming space, which Gibeau says caused chaos in the industry for companies like EA. However, he’s very positive about the future of the gaming industry, and goes so far as to say that the next generation will mark a “Golden Age” for the industry.
“From this chaos, you’re going to get a new order, a new approach, that’s going to be a very vibrant time for games. Yes, there’s chaos right now, but a golden age is coming.”
While there has definitely been some slow down in new IPs, and a general bias towards the first person shooter genre this generation, there have been some shining stars at all points of console cycle. Sony has taken some pretty big risks with games like The Last of Us, Starhawk, Heavy Rain and other titles, while companies like EA, Activision, Microsoft and others have played it safe with sequels.
Sure Sony has a bigger alterior motive in funding these ambitious new properties, but at least there has been one place to get innovation in the past few years. This “Golden Age” is rumored to begin in 2013, where either Sony, Microsoft, or both are believed to be releasing their next generation hardware, the Xbox 720 or PS4. Companies like EA, Ubisoft, and other big publishers have been vocal about the next-generation in recent weeks, though neither Sony or Microsoft have issued any official word on the state of their next hardware.