Sequelitis: Can new IPs succeed?

This post was originally going to be titled, “what happened to theme music?” It was to be a quick post about how games of late lack any truly memorable music. Amidst doing some research, however, I noticed something far more dastardly.

Let us take a look at the top ten games of the past year, according to Amazon’s boxed game sales. I have bolded everything that is a sequel.

1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
2. Fifa 12
3. Battlefield 3
4. Zumba Fitness
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
6. Just Dance 3
7. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
8. LA Noire
9. Saints Row: The Third
10. Batman: Arkham City

Really? One new intellectual property (IP) and, strangely enough, a fitness game. What happened to new ideas? I remembered all sorts of weird, crazy new games coming out all the time when I was a kid. For comparison, let’s look at 2001’s best selling video games, according to Wikipedia.

1. Grand Theft Auto III
2. Madden NFL 2002
3. Pokémon Crystal
4. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
5. Super Mario Advance
6. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec
7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
8. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
9. Pokémon Silver
10. Driver 2

I expected to go back and find a cornucopia of weird games. What I got was anything but that. Blinded by nostalgia, I guess. It’s hard to shoehorn new ways of learning into a pre-existing brand or IP, so this raises the question: can new games with better learning methods succeed in the market?

It takes a while, but the answer is yes. Often the first iteration of an IP will see limited success, but their sequels will show up on best-seller lists. If we look again at this year’s list of best-sellers, we can note that there are only three franchises predating 2001: Fifa, Elder Scrolls, and Batman. Everything else is from the past ten years. So don’t worry; there is hope yet.