Ubisoft: Christmas Season "Brutal" For New IPs

Ubisoft: Christmas Season "Brutal" For New IPs

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Ubisoft's Michael de Plater thinks that games have passed movies as the new big dog in town, but it's a double-edged sword: A rush of blockbuster titles makes it nigh-impossible to launch a new IP in the holiday market.

So, in case you haven't heard, this whole "gaming" thing is pretty big. Bigger than the gigantic film industry, even. In fact, games have taken the movies' place as the choice of blockbuster entertainment during the holiday season, says EndWar's creative director Michael de Plater - and most of us would agree with him.

But gaming's success comes at a price - the increasing quality (and advertising budget) of the biggest holiday titles means that it can be hard to launch a new IP around the lucrative Christmas season, lest it be overshadowed by big names in established franchises. We saw this problem last year, as games like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge were overshadowed by Call of Duty: World at War and the latest Madden.

"It's a bit tough to launch a new IP exactly at Christmas when you're head-to-head with blockbuster sequels," Ubisoft's Michael de Plater told GI.biz. "It's interesting to see a number of big titles, like Heavy Rain, being targeted at 2010 to avoid the Christmas rush ... [e]ven God of War 3's in 2010, that's how brutal it is."

Of course, de Plater isn't the only one who's noticed this - last Thursday, Capcom announced that Dark Void would be pushed back to early 2010, and that was just the latest in a long line of delays. Obviously publishers don't want to go head to head with games like Modern Warfare 2 and StarCraft II (well, that one's kind of iffy, to be fair).

Still, is moving everything to 2010 that much better? You'll still be running into the same problem, it'll just be in Q1 2010 instead of Q4 2009. That might even be more of a problem, considering that you won't have the benefit of the holiday sales rush, either.

It's good to see that the industry is growing to realize that you don't have to launch to capture that Christmas market, but really, you guys should look into trying to actually, y'know, space it out a bit. Summer's pretty empty as is - why not take advantage of that?

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Sounds to me that Michael de Plater has no faith in this new IP. If he really believed in how good it'll be and how well it'll sell he'd push it to be sold in the Christmas rush, knowing it would be able to compete with the big franchises.

Well lets take advantage of the summer months another time, I don't want to wait any longer than I have to for some of these games

Cpt_Oblivious:
Sounds to me that Michael de Plater has no faith in this new IP. If he really believed in how good it'll be and how well it'll sell he'd push it to be sold in the Christmas rush, knowing it would be able to compete with the big franchises.

To be fair, EndWar came out last year. I think he's just talking in general.

AHEM, HOLIDAY season, I feel so offended. But yeah, I would in general agree, new IP is more of something to be released in January or February when not a lot of new games are coming out.

pantsoffdanceoff:
AHEM, HOLIDAY season, I feel so offended. But yeah, I would in general agree, new IP is more of something to be released in January or February when not a lot of new games are coming out.

*Slaps wrist* No nooo. Christmas season. Don't let the soccer moms win man, don't do it.

New IPs have been losing out to bigger titles for awhile - it's not something new. But I agree with Oblivious on the statement that developers should have more faith in their titles. If they're afraid to put it out for the holiday season, then they should work on promoting it more or sharpen up the game before release.

I agree that new IP's can easily be overshadowed by the sequels, but at the same time I can't help but think that these new IP's need to offer something a bit more substantial as far as story, identity and gameplay goes. While the two mentioned in the article (Dead Space and Mirror's Edge) did bring something different to the table, I found them both lacking in at least two of those three things I just mentioned. It takes a lot more than a hot new idea to sell a new IP. And it's something I've rarely seen implemented in a new IP.

I absolutely agree about launching more games in the Summer. When the big games come out in Christmas, I can usually only afford a few of them but if they came out spread, I could probably afford it.

It has to do with the production costs of these games. Investors sink millions of dollars into some of these titles, so there is a LOT of pressure for them to not fail, so they have to pull out every silly marketing trick that they can to make sure to milk it. As we've seen happen with a lot of major motion pictures lately (and some games as well), the blockbusters make absolutely stupid amounts of money, or are major flops. I think the public is more selective in their choices of entertainment these days.

With this in mind, developers must walk a fine line between massive success and incredible failure.

Took them long enough to realize that after all the ruckus that has been made about Beyond Good & Evil drowning in the Christmas avalanche... Of course THIS Christmas there's not enough coming in to drown anything.

But really, if Christmas is so hostile then why not *gasp* release the game in the summer? There's a massive void of releases there that can be filled easily.

i don't think the new ip's issue is when it's released but the quality and the backing that it gets from the company who releases it.

i think too many companies just stick their ip in the boat and push it out to sea and see if it will sink or float and then hype it

cleverlymadeup:
i don't think the new ip's issue is when it's released but the quality and the backing that it gets from the company who releases it.

i think too many companies just stick their ip in the boat and push it out to sea and see if it will sink or float and then hype it

Half OP, Half this. People try to cram everything out at once, then they don't support that title at all. Not everyone is fortunate to have DoubleFine's favous developer, for instance.

Cpt_Oblivious:
Sounds to me that Michael de Plater has no faith in this new IP. If he really believed in how good it'll be and how well it'll sell he'd push it to be sold in the Christmas rush, knowing it would be able to compete with the big franchises.

There are plenty of "amazing" games that would be overshadowed by "legendary" franchises like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

I don't know about your financial situation, but I don't have a pile of cash dedicated to my gaming interests.

If 5 games come out this holiday season, chances are the average gamer would only buy 1 or 2 titles. Even if they all end up revolutionizing gameplay as we know it, its just too expensive...

Wouldn't this just end up pushing the "brutal" release season back to January and February and make December "EA/Activision month"?

With Double Fine offering the only new IP worth getting on the shelves in the last months of 2009, the holiday season certainly will be Brütal.

I kind of think there would be less of a crowd around holiday season with all these games getting pushed back. Its starting to sound like Q1 2010 will be the holiday season.

 

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