Burbank, CA-based Insomniac Games has a knack for creating franchises that video game players seem to instantly connect with. Whether it's the Spyro
series, Ratchet & Clank
, Insomniac has avoided becoming a video game factory, and instead an independent studio where new worlds are born.
For Insomniac CEO Ted Price, having his company create these new worlds is as much a a challenge as it is an opportunity. The upcoming multiplatform
co-op game Overstrike
is evidence of the studio's intention to take risks with the creation of new franchises.
"Of course, there are very straightforward advantages [to us creating original, owned IP]," Price told Gamasutra earlier this month. "For example, we own the intellectual property for Overstrike
, which gives us the pull over what it becomes, and gives us the practical ability to leverage it in other areas."
Price added, "But it's also an opportunity to start something that the team is really enthusiastic about, because it's a franchise with no baggage, it's starting from scratch, we can take it any direction we want. And that's always a great moment.
"It's always a difficult moment, too, when you're trying to find out what your new IP is. That's the challenge we've set for ourselves over the year," Price said. "We want to continue to create new IP, and going through that process at the very beginning can be gut-wrenching, because you're making big bets on new stories, new characters and new game mechanics that may be unproven.
"We wonder about the potential audience for each of the new IPs we come with. But along the way, we're never afraid to tweak that to make sure that what we're making is what gamers would want to play."
Creating new worlds sometimes means moving on from old ones. It's been over a decade since Insomniac released a game in the Spyro
series. And Price recently told fans that the Resistance
franchise for PlayStation 3 had "reached its logical conclusion in terms of the story we wanted to tell." So the studio walked away
from the alien shooter series after three entries.
But even though Insomniac was done with these franchises, the IP owners still see life in these worlds many years after they first debuted. Activision now owns the rights to Spyro
, which saw a resurrection as a major franchise with Skylanders
late last year. Developer Nihilistic is bringing its own vision to the Sony-owned Resistance
franchise on the new PlayStation Vita handheld.
Insomniac could have kept cranking out new entries in these major franchises, but the studio made the conscious decision to cut the ties when the "logical conclusion" arrived. It's a creative-driven decision that can also translate to commercial gain.
But it's a decision that isn't taken lightly by Price, particularly when millions of dollars and the welfare of a studio are at stake. Founded in 1994, the studio has years of experience and a well-tested gut instinct that it can rely on when creating new franchises and exploring new game mechanics.
"We have designers who have made a lot of games and know what good game mechanics are," Price said. "And when you have less-experienced members of the team who may not be as well-versed in basic mechanics, but know what the audience is playing and know where culture is today, it's a good combination."