Blacksmiths of Intellectual Property: The Rise of Originality in MMOs - Page 6

Updated Mon, Jun 08, 2009 by Cody Bye

To bring it back to the gamers, I had to ask the group what their favorite MMO of all time was. Knowing that they might see through my questions, I was surprised at their answers. Sixty percent of the readers had favorite games that were original IPs, thirty percent enjoyed games that were based on previous gaming properties (like WoW or FFXI), and only ten percent selected previously established non-gaming IPs.

Knowing their favorites, I then asked our Ten Ton Hammer readers what game they were looking forward to the most.  In another shocking moment, I discovered that only 43% of the gamers surveyed were really looking forward to an original IP, while 57% stated that an established IP product held their attention. Not surprisingly, the top game out of those surveyed was Star Wars: The Old Republic, especially after the title’s E3 bonanza.

From these two relatively unscientific statistics, it’s easy to draw some conclusions. First off, it seems that gamers definitely hold original IPs in high regard, considering that majority of the players asked consider a novel game their favorite MMO. While it can be said that these top spots belong to older games, it’s telling that only a small percentage of established IP games hold that “favorite” spot. When you compare games like The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and Dungeons and Dragons Online to titles like World of Warcraft, EverQuest, or Guild Wars, you begin to see the difference.

With that in mind, it’s astounding that the majority of gamers polled still hold games in established IPs as their “top” upcoming game. This just goes to show that established IPs can definitely attract an audience, even if the end products don’t live up to player’s expectations. But who knows? Maybe the next crop of established IP products will change that statistic.

However, it’s also worth noting that the *vast* majority of cancelled MMOs have been original IPs. To my knowledge, only ONE MMO that belonged to a previously established world has been cancelled, and technically that one isn’t even shut off yet. In a shocking move last week, Sony Online Entertainment announced that they would be closing the doors on The Matrix Online. Compare that to the closures (and re-openings and re-closings) of Fury, Shadowbane, Ryzom, Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault, Meridian 59, Asheron’s Call 2, Earth & Beyond, and a whole host of others.

The risks equal the rewards for original IP creators. For every two, five, or ten failures, one original IP title moves to the upper echelon of gaming and becomes a standout champion. April Burba put it best in this comment:

“That 1 time out of 10 where you really hit it out of the park with an original IP is pretty much the best feeling in the world. It's how true stars of the industry are made and it means you get to make more games based on that IP and run your own money machine into the ground.”

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