The modern AAA gaming industry is more reliant on legacy IPs than ever before. As game development has become more expensive and risky, studios have found little incentive to branch out and explore new ideas.
The current year has marked an increasing shift toward the trend of remakes and remasters, with releases like Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime, and The Witcher 3 being among the year’s highest-rated offerings.
Industry figures like Phil Spencer have already acknowledged the industry’s reliance on old IPs due to the risks associated with new ideas. The former Fable Lead Designer has also shared his thoughts on the matter, claiming modern games avoid risks and play it safe.
Why it matters: Peter Molyneux has several years of experience working on different IPs in the gaming industry, allowing him to keenly observe the industry’s positive and negative aspects.
Peter Molyneux recently spoke to TheGamer, sharing his experience working on the Fable franchise.
The developer is credited as the co-founder of Lionhead Studios, and he went on to create the Fable franchise at the studio, serving as the Lead Designer for the first release of the IP in 2004.
Addressing the transition between Fable and its sequel, Peter Molyneux described that Lionhead Studios took a massive risk through several changes, believing that such a departure from a tested formula would not be possible today. He stated:
“This sounds crazy, but there was a shame in doing sequels.”
The developer wanted to make the point that studios two decades ago hoped to bring something fresh to the table with every new entry as opposed to delivering more of what fans had come to love.
This ultimately led to Lionhead Studios creating Fable 2 with a much darker tone compared to its predecessor. However, Peter Molyneux believes that such a departure today would lead to a poor reception during early testing. He said:
“I think people tend to be a bit more risk averse these days.”
The former Fable developer’s statement highlights the need for innovation and evolution in the gaming industry. Rising budgets and grave consequences of failure have effectively limited much of the industry’s potential.
Games like Saints Row 2022 hoped to take the series in a fresh direction, but a poor release led to the closure of Volition Games. Developers like Ascendant Studios have also gone through layoffs after a poorly received new IP.
While the AAA industry has no shortage of good games in 2023, most of the highest-rated games of the year have been sequels or remasters. Such games are not necessarily similar to their predecessors, but the lack of new IPs highlights Peter Molyneux’s point about the industry being risk-averse today.
Last month, David Jaffe also highlighted a similar issue, claiming that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 appears formulaic and Sony needs to pivot from its standard approach of creating AAA games.
Nonetheless, the gaming industry is unlikely to move away from its approach. The combination of nostalgia and reliance on tried and true methods has ensured studios are more willing than ever to revisit their previous IPs for future releases.
A $70 game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is reusing all of the multiplayer maps from a 14-year-old Call of Duty, and several studios have already announced future remakes like Max Payne, Splinter Cell, and more.
While these are extreme examples, they underline that the gaming industry has cornered itself through increasing budgets and long development cycles, making it hard for studios to pitch new IPs or ideas that may not measure up to past successes.
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Avinash is currently pursuing a Business degree in Australia. For more than three years, he has been working as a gaming journalist, utilizing his writing skills and love for gaming to report on the latest updates in the industry. Avinash loves to play action games like Devil May Cry and has also been mentioned on highly regarded websites, such as IGN, GamesRadar, GameRant, Dualshockers, CBR, and Gamespot.