Midway's Allison: 93% of New IPs Fail, Reviews Don't Matter

By Chris Faylor, May 09, 2007 10:46am PDT According to Midway senior VP and chief marketing officer Steve Allison, only 7% of the new game-related intellectual properties introduced across the past four years can be considered successful and review scores had no bearing on the sales of those games. "In other words, 93 percent of new IP fails in the marketplace," he explained on N'Gai Croal's Level Up. "So while the 90-plus review scores and armfuls of awards create the perception that titles like Psychonauts, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami and other great pieces of work were big successes...they were big financial disappointments and money losers."

"The truth is that there is no correlation between review scores and commercial success," Allison wrote in a followup entry. "If there were, 'great' games Beyond Good & Evil, Ico, Okami, Psychonauts, Shadow of the Colossus, Freedom Fighters, Prey and Midway's own Psi-Ops would all have been multi-million unit sellers. The aforementioned games are all games that average review scores of nearly 90 percent out of 100, some even higher. The reality is none has sold more than 300,000 units at full price in the U.S. and a couple of these less than 250,000 units lifetime even with bargain pricing."

Earlier this year, Capcom shut down Clover Studio--the celebrated developer behind Okami (PS2), God Hand (PS2) and the Viewtiful Joe series--a move widely believed to stem from poor sales of the studio's new intellectual properties, such as Okami and God Hand.

To rectify the issue of overlooked games, Allison suggests that developers focus on broadening the appeal of their games beyond hardcore players, crafting an on-screen experience that causes casual gamers to respond "I've got to get that" or "Bad ass!". The executive also noted that timing is key, using the example of moviegoers overlooking an asteroid film if two others recently arrived in theaters before it.

"What happens all too often in the videogame business is that we get art house movies made at blockbuster budgets," he stated. "These games inevitably fail to find an audience large enough to support their costs, and nobody is happy."

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  • In essence, he's right. It's a slimy dick way too put it that reeks of a guy from marketing. If he's really 100% right though, it's going to get to the point that there will only be 5 games a year released; the football game, the movie licensed game, the adventure/rpg game, the realistic racing game, and the online fantasy game. If 93% of new games fail, I really hope he isn't stating that they shouldn't bother making them, because that's depressing. Thank god for the cheap older games, my first game that I am going to purchase on my 360 will be castlevania SOTN, and then used copies of fightnight rd 3 and gears. I can't be the only one backtracking and picking up games after the fact, can I? SOMEONE has to be making that money from me...

  • There are two factors most people always forget in this grim equation:

    1) the customers. And the tendency to buy the 'safe' buying ie: sequels & license.
    You can scream at the marketing efforts, the budgets, the reviewers and what not. But in the end when faced with a sequel or a licensed game (good or not) and a new game, 80% of people will go with the sequel/license because it feels safer; regardless of reviews and word of mouth. (let's not even mention casual gamers who are a sizeable part of the market and don't read reviews)

    2) It's hard to sell something new on the first try. If a new IP is released to critical acclaim, but fail to sell, on the second try marketing efforts will usually be much better and word of mouth will be there. The problem is that with games costs are often so high (especially these days) that if a game don't sell high right away there is usually no second try..