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What do console players want most? Essentially, more of the same
What do console players want most? Essentially, more of the same
July 13, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

July 13, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
Comments
    31 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Launching a new IP for consoles has always been quite a challenge. Historically, the space has been dominated by franchises and sequels, making it quite difficult for new ideas to stand out.

Customers have always been drawn to franchises they're familiar with, and 2012 is proving no different, as a new survey from media research group Nielsen shows that nearly all of 2012's most anticipated console games are also the year's biggest sequels.

Nielsen surveyed more than 4,800 players between the ages of 7 and 54 years old using a number of different metrics, and found that the most anticipated titles across the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii were Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Just Dance 4, respectively.

Other games that made the lists included Madden NFL 13, Assassin's Creed III, Borderlands 2, and numerous other major follow-ups.

In fact, the only new IP titles in Nielsen's data were two Wii games: The Last Story, and Everyone Sing -- every other title in the survey data was either a sequel or a licensed property.

Of course, this tendency toward old IP is nothing new, but recently, developers such as Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) head Stephane D'Astous have argued that publishers are putting even less emphasis on developing new IP, and are instead looking to overhaul their older, existing properties.

For Nielsen's full list of the most-anticipated titles of 2012, visit the group's official blog.


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Comments


Mike Griffin
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For most average gamers that don't hopelessly geek-out over the industry and cover its every move, it's the mainstream, spoon-fed stuff that they tend to navigate.

Same for light, mainstream movie goers -- ask them which films they're anticipating: Top answers would likely be huge sequels, big franchise derivatives, and massive studio pushes, not hidden gems or unique smaller films.

Fueled by pre-order blitzkrieg and massive, blanket advertising.

Most average folks are just too busy to obsess over the minutiae of media consumption selection, happy to be spoon-fed more of the established, by the establishment.

And that's today's cynical Friday the 13th commentary.

Omar Gonzalez
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!

Alex Boccia
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Gee, man, you're just making me sad. The truth hurts I guess.

Cary Chichester
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I think the big takeaway isn't that most players are excited for sequels, but just that most big-budget games are sequels. People were drooling over Last of Us and Watch Dogs at E3 more than most of the titles listed here. Obviously if we keep thinking that consumers will only buy sequels and thus only make sequels for them to buy, then it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Darcy Nelson
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I'd really like to see the format of that survey. Of course Halo fans will be excited about Halo 4. If you gave someone a choice between Halo 4 and a new IP which may or may not be good, what would you expect them to say?

Terry Matthes
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Keyboard and mouse support please. Let me remap my FPS keys to a standard PC setup and I will never play games on a PC again. Well... maybe not ever, but close.

Darcy Nelson
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I think allowing mouse/keyboard setup on a console is akin to admitting defeat (for consoles). Because then it becomes. "Hey, this is just a computer that I plug into my TV!"

Luis Guimaraes
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That's the only thing I want from consoles: full KB/M support.

Terry Matthes
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"I think allowing mouse/keyboard setup on a console is akin to admitting defeat (for consoles). Because then it becomes. "Hey, this is just a computer that I plug into my TV!"

I feel that this is what Microsoft is trying to do already with things like Multimedia Center and their Xbox live TV offerings. I do actually have a KB and mouse plugged into my Xbox and it does work for those Windows centric programs, but it never works with any games :(

Darcy Nelson
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"I feel that this is what Microsoft is trying to do already with things like Multimedia Center and their Xbox live TV offerings."

That's part of the transition to the eventual cloud/streaming-TV/All bluetooth peripherals gaming environment, where I think things are heading currently. Yet there can't be too much crossover, because then the next step won't seem like as much of a leap, eh? I say give it another gen.

Michael Rooney
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Consoles are generally designed around having a ubiquitous experience. I don't think controllers are perfect, but I don't like the idea of potentially fragmenting a user base on a platform that's designed to offer level playing fields and similar experience everywhere.

Luis Guimaraes
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Or at least a trackball controller as default.

Nikolas Kolm
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Obviously, new IP's won't be as highly anticipated. People know what to expect from established IPs and they know they like it.

I'm sure people are excited about new IPs, too, but they are just more comfortable expecting a new Halo, a new CoD or a new Assassin's Creed.

The only sad thing here is that surveys like these make publishers think of new IPs as dangerous investments (which, coincidentally, they usually are). More risk means less willingness to spend the big $$$. And that means new IPs will rarely see big budget releases. Even the "new" IPs at E3 that are praised so often these days (Watchdogs, Last of Us), only venture so far from established patterns.

Hopefully, these slightly new things will be successes. It might make publishers more willing to invest in new IPs again.

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Ujn Hunter
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The funny thing is that the people who probably spend the most money on video games aren't even buying those titles. I know I'm not.

Jeremie Sinic
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It's a bit like asking people to cite their most expected series for the next year: Game of Thrones Season 3 is probably going to place high in the list, because people saw the first two seasons already and thus are simply able to remember it easily.

Joshua Hawkins
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This is why next gen needs to get started. The longer a hardware cycle goes the less of an impact new IPs have on consumers. Several developers have been pushing against new hardware for fear of higher development cost, but they desperately need it to survive.

Alejandro Aguado
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I think the problem here is marketing, Assassin's Creed 1 had a really good marketing campaing, I remember how my friends, even though they are casual players. They knew about the game and were expecting it, and it was a new IP.
If you make a new IP, you need people to know it and convice them, they can't get hyped for something they don't know. So is more about marketing that anything else. I'm pretty sure we could get really awesome new IPs if the marketing about those games were strong.

If companies don't get in touch to people and show them new games, how are they gonna but those games later? I think is pretty simple.

Maria Jayne
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What do people think of when they think of sequels? they think of what they enjoyed about the original and then add some imaginary excess feature on top of it which works perfectly to their mind.

It's a natural assumption, I liked A, so A + B must be even better.

Trouble is, nobody can ask for A until they have already played it, so naturally people ask for what they know, because you can't ask for anything else.

Michael DeFazio
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news flash: "many people like popular products"
...or... by gaging the excitement level of many people on a range of products, the average excitement level of a popular product is higher than a niche product." (but isn't that the very definition of a popular product?)

...if we looked at sequels, followups, new seasons of hugely popular movies, books, tv shows, music (that hadn't been released yet) against the field of new products, wouldn't we expect to see the same thing (any deviation to this would be an aberration).

Michael Stevens
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Players are most excited for those games because they all (with the slight exception of The Last Story) have very centralized multiplayer elements.These are all games that I can expect at least 3 of my friends to buy, and even if we were only talking about single player that would make them fundamentally better and more interesting uses of my time. These series became series and are enduring for the same reasons college football endures while people gradually forget about the XFL.

Also worth pointing out that Halo 4, Blops2, and AC3 all have new settings and/or protagonists and what appear to be larger jumps and expansions in gameplay than were present in earlier sequels. You can see it in Dead Space 3 and DmC as well; this next wave of sequels aren't as rote and linear as we've come to expect.
Could just be marketing, but that sort of "innovation through iteration" is common in the last year or two of a console cycle.

Andrew Bittman
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People are looking too much into this with a strong bias against the sequels. People like what they know, in a survey the story ends there.

I wasn't sure what I was going to have for lunch today, and I chose a fresh roll place I've been to a hundred times over a cafe I've looked at but never been in. Cafe looks nice, but haven't really glanced at the menu or gone inside. Just because I haven't explored it doesn't mean it's bad, it doesn't mean I'll never eat there and it sure doesn't mean that it's not innovative and inspiring.

As Michael said a bit above: people like popular things. But people also like what they've already been proven to like. If you like Halo 3, then Halo 4 has a good chance of being liked also right? It doesn't mean The Last of Us is bad, or that the Halo 3 fan would even not be interested, it just means it's still an unknown.

hanno hinkelbein
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basing marked value solely on sales numbers is pretty short sighted. all society fails in taking risks these days that is why culture is on a decline in general. it's a common thing in capitalistic systems unfortunately.

Ferdi Cam
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A big reason people are excited about sequels could be attributed to the fact, that they can compare it to something they already know, I think.
In his book "Predictably Irrational" author Dan Ariely shows results of experiments which demonstrate how test-candidates preferred A over B when they have A- to compare it to.

As most gamers probably bought / played a successful games prequel in a given franchise they can assume, that the sequel is going to be the same but better (sometimes that equation fails).


In addition to that, it should be pointed out, that the general recognition of all those big franchises is obviously higher - so the first thing that comes to mind, is simply going to be something that is popular, as several before me have stated.

Lastly, I'll have to admit I didn't do too much researching here, but it would be interesting to see how "Nielsen" conducted those surveys.

Eric Geer
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I Love new IPs, but if a game is decent or good on the first time around and I loved it, I want to see a sequel come out because I know it will be what I loved about it, plus more polish and fine tuning.

But once you get to that 3rd game...then it either becomes more of the same(Assassins Creed) or the game has changed so much that it is not even the game you started with at the first iteration---see Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3, Lost Planet 3.

Mark Venturelli
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I think it is the other way around. People are anticipating these big sequels because they are pretty much all that is in the triple-A console space.

Juan Barbosa
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Established sequels make more sense for studios as well since they're more cost effective due to the established code base and assets.

So it's not so much about what players want but also what the studios can afford to give us.

Michael Rooney
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@Joe: Have you ever worked on a sequel? There is a considerable amount of work you can avoid.

If all other things were equal, then you're points would stand pretty well, but we're also releasing more games than ever before.

In 1995 there were like 2-3 major games released per month. 2000 was around twice that. 2011 had close to 15 major games in March not including mobile.

Juan Barbosa
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@Joe: Reusing code is a software engineering practice for reducing costs. If each studio were to create a new IP after each released game the costs of developing a game and time would be even greater.

I'm not even considering going from one genre to another where reusable code is less. Like going from a sports game to a platformer, costs would go even higher in those cases.

Raymond Grier
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If you ask people what games they are waiting for they are going to give you the names they know, not the ones they never heard of before. My opinion on most polls is that they are usually poorly designed and see no reason to think otherwise of this one based on this article.

Chuck Bartholomew
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For me, this survey highlights the significance of the OUYA's potential as an open console.

1) Publishing to a console can prohibitively expensive for small studios
2) Small studios are more willing to take a risk on new gameplay or a new IP
3) So new gameplay and IP are less likely on a console due to the risks and costs involved
4) The OUYA is potentially a console that small studios can target affordably
5) The requirement that all games offer some sort of free demo/content/whatever makes it easy for players to try out new games without a $60 investment of an unknown console title

Despite all the questions and controversy around the OUYA, it is a promising alternative to the sequel, rinse, repeat cycle of the current console market.


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