The Multiplayer Market Is Nearly Impenetrable For New IPs Today

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Market Too Saturated & Dominated By Existing IPs!

Story Highlights
  • There’s very limited variety in the mainstream multiplayer market, with the same old franchises dominating the charts.
  • There are several factors why new multiplayer IPs can’t make a place in the market where big sharks are dominating.
  • Palworld and Helldivers 2 don’t overcomplicate things and have become exceptions to this rule.

With the multiplayer experience becoming a significant part of the gaming industry and the reason why this industry is worth billions today, one might often wonder why there’s such a limited variety.

Even when looking at the charts of the most played multiplayer games, the positions are occupied by the same old IPs established years ago, such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Fortnite.

There are several contributing factors to this, the most common being that the multiplayer market is oversaturated, and the industry’s focus is primarily on making money instead of delivering heartfelt projects.

At the same time, most publishers may wonder why Palworld, a game from a relatively new and more indie developer, is performing so well in such a niche and competitive market.

Why it matters: Publishers are desperate to recreate the success of bigger titles, so it is important to understand how they ended up in these dominant positions, leaving everything else in the dust.

It’s Hard To Convince Players To Abandon A Game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Was Among Last Year’s Best-Selling Titles

Given that multiplayer games like Call of Duty have already built a robust player base over the years, persuading gamers to transition to a completely new IP from a game they have invested hundreds of hours and perhaps even money into is a challenging task on its own.

Moreover, the player base is a crucial aspect of this equation. With everyone already engrossed in these major titles, opting for a new IP would, essentially, mean choosing to become a lone wolf. After all, people engage in multiplayer games to interact and socialize with their friends.

This is why Modern Warfare 3, despite all its faults, ended up among 2023’s best-selling titles. The Call of Duty franchise has practically become too big to fail, and the IP’s brand value is a major part of this fame.

Gamers Find It Hard To Trust New IPs These Days

Skull and Bones
Skull and Bones Is One of 2024’s Biggest Letdowns

In the current landscape, AAA games demand extensive budgets and development time, leading to significantly prolonged development cycles that have been amplified by the enduring consequences of the pandemic, resulting in a considerable industry shakeup.

While the pandemic is a substantial factor, it isn’t the sole explanation for the diminishing game quality. Many publishers have succumbed to greed, falling far short of their former standards. Developers who were once praised and celebrated are now sources of disappointment.

Consider Rocksteady, a developer I would have personally praised as one of the best in the last decade. Unfortunately, their trajectory took a turn for the worse after the release of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.

Even Ubisoft, renowned for titles like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, is grappling to meet its own standards, evident in its latest release, Skull and Bones, which they label as an ‘AAAA’ game release.

$70 game releases, chasing the live-service trend and prioritizing it over core gameplay, deliver some of the worst experiences for players seeking simple enjoyment. These developers invest heavily in roadmaps, focusing on future content to sell as cash grabs.

Unfortunately, most players lose interest even before exploring these offerings, leading to the death of such games days after launch. These games often lack basic features. Consequently, players are hesitant to explore what they have to offer.

This leads to gamers returning to well-established IPs, like Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, and GTA. While many believe the world of multiplayer gaming is vast, the reality is that it’s limited and already dominated by these industry giants.

How Palworld and Helldivers 2 Are Different

Helldivers 2 Palworld
Helldivers 2 & Palworld Show That Indie Games Can Be Just As Enjoyable As Most AAA Releases

Despite being paid titles, what sets Palworld and Helldivers 2 apart from any other multiplayer title isn’t rocket science. It’s just simplicity and the developers’ commitment to deliver projects that people want.

There is no special innovation that these titles offer. Instead, they just listen to the fans instead of following industry trends. Costing a fraction of what these AAAA games cost, Palworld and Helldivers 2 are peaking at millions of players despite being platform exclusives.

Palworld and Helldivers 2 prove that the industry needs to focus. Chasing trends will only get you so far since players are no longer interested in carbon copies of existing ideas.

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