Schafer: Publishers Are Scared Of New IP

In a time where every other game is a sequel of some kind, Tim Schafer's Double Fine game studio has been pumping out original IP with the likes of Iron Brigade, Stacking, and Happy Action Theatre. But according to the veteran game developer, this hasn't been easy.

The Double Fine boss has revealed that it has been difficult attracting publishers to fund new IP, which explains why the games they have recently released have been smaller downloadable projects that don't cost as much to produce and distribute as large AAA games.

"Publishers often don't want to release anything new," Schafer said in an interview with Digital Spy.

"I mean, they're scared of new IP. That's always been our challenge... getting a publisher to invest millions of dollars in something brand new like Brutal Legend."

"It has helped to have games that are smaller, like digital download games are smaller so the budgets are smaller, like Happy Action Theatre. The whole reason it got made was that I was asking for very little money to get it made," he said.

"And once it proved the power of it, money was invested in it, but the original thing that we were asking for was very small."

Do you think smaller, new IP is the way of the future for game development? Or has the 2011 year-of-the-sequels (all ending in "3"!) convinced you otherwise? Let us know!

[Digital Spy]


    It's all about risk-aversion. We're in a pretty weak economy right now, so organisations with lots of money are being conservative so they don't lose all their money. The bigger the org, the more conservative they will be. As the economic situation stabilises, there will be more investment in higher-risk projects, such as new IP. How much is hard to say, the big guys like EA and Activision are probably always going to rely on a stable of very conservative, tried-and-true types of product, and so will evolve very slowly.

      OK, I dont need to post anymore ;) That covers about every thought I've ever had ever!

        I do my best. :)

      its true that big developers need to stick to what sells to stay afloat. but thats a very short term perspective.

      we just had the year of 3's but developers cannot be blind to the fact that even a flagship title like Halo could only last 3 titles and 2 spinoffs in its current form.

      the developer who invests in new IP now will be in a commanding position when their current stable runs dry.

      perfect example is the modern warfare IP: the Call of Duty Series was one of many "WWII Shooter" games out at the time when the growing sentiment "was how many times to we need to fight at pearl harbour/omaha beach/D-Day?"

      then came Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare, it kept the name but it was a fresh IP with modern combat, modern weapons and a refreshed combat system and multiplayer.

      modern warfare rolled the dice on a new IP and succeeded to the point that we dont even call it COD4 anymore, its Modern Warfare 1,2 and 3 and holds a commanding stake in the modern shooter genere out of the ashes of the then dying WWII shooter genre.

        Coming up next: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4: Future Warfare.

    If new IPs die out I will be a very sad panda.
    Thank god for indie titles.

    I don't think that's true of all publishers. Look at Sony - they've invested in plenty of full-scale new IP this generation... Uncharted, Resistance, LittleBigPlanet, Infamous, MotorStorm, The Last Of Us spring to mind immediately. MS/Epic did Gears of War and Mass Effect. EA have done Kingdoms of Amalur, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge. These are just a few that jump out off the top of my head, I'm sure there are plenty of others. They've enjoyed varying levels of critical and commercial success, but they are still there.

    It is worth noting that the majority of those are internally developed - it is possible that publishers are choosing to keep more of their big-budget stuff in-house where they have greater control of them rather than funding independent developers.

      There's a cycle to things though. Early on in a console cycle it's very normal to launch a lot of new franchises. Later on in the cycle it's much harder. The other thing is that Schafer is talking from Double Fine's perspective. They've never had a big commercial hit and never really done a AAA-budget game either. The bulk of your examples are internally developed or developed for a big publisher with a AAA budget by respected and established studios.

    Well as much as I hate to say it, look at the other pieces on the front page here and see how much of a lather people are getting into about a Psychonauts sequel. A wonderful game, absolutely, but does it need a sequel? Not at all. It just needs people to play it again. Maybe an HD upgrade, maybe a touch of nerfing the Meat Circus.

    But if I were a publisher, I'd be hearing registers ringing off the hook. It's a lot easier to convince people to buy something they've already bought. Like I said, I don't like it... but...

    I personally think that the Orange box was the best idea to introduce new IPs like Portal, by putting it in a pack with sequels to already popular titles such as Half Life 2 and Team Fortress Classic. Look how that thrived and inspired new titles such as QUBE

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