New IPs are scary. They're unfamiliar and different. People fear change. That's probably why The Last of Us got very little public attention until E3 this year when everyone saw it running at Sony's press conference and suddenly got excited about 'the new game from the creators of Uncharted'. Even though we'd been showing you and showing you for months already before E3. But while new IPs are undoubtedly hard to get people excited about (even from a studio as amazing as Naughty Dog), is it possible there's a science to releasing them at a specific time in a console's lifespan?
Above: The Last of... who? Never heard of it mate. Uncharted 4 though, now you're talking...
Yves Guillemot of Ubisoft reckons there is, absolutely. So much so that he says the lack of new consoles in the past couple of years has 'penalised' his company. The cynical among us could argue that a shinier version of Rayman 2 can be released at any time and get people just as excited for the game (read: not at all), but Yves isn't actually talking about sequels and re-releases. He's talking about proper, brand new intellectual properties.
He said: "I understand the manufacturers don't want [new consoles] too often because it's expensive, but it's important for the entire industry to have new consoles because it helps creativity. It's a lot less risky for us to create new IPs and new products when we're in the beginning of a new generation. Our customers are very open to new things. Our customers are reopening their minds – and they are really going after what's best.
"At the end of a console generation, they want new stuff, but they don't buy new stuff as much. They know their friends will play Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed so they go for that. So the end of a cycle is very difficult."
It's a theory, certainly, and does go some way to explaining why Ubisoft has had several titles ready for hardware launches recently. But even though Yves looks very much like John Lithgow, not everybody can agree with him. Randy Pitchford of Gearbox and Borderlands fame completely disagrees. His argument is backed up with actual facts, too. How fiendishly clever of him.
Above: Brothers in Arms, back in March, 2005. When the world still wanted WWII shooters
He told trade magazine MCV:
"Part of the reason there are lots of sequels is because that's what people are investing in. I've never understood that. We launched the first Brothers in Arms in March 2005 and we sold 3.2 million units. Xbox 360 launched in November 2005 so that's about as end of the lifecycle as you can get. And you know what else launched in November 2005? God of War."
And Mr Pitchford hasn't finished his argument. He concluded:
"You can create IP at any time. You just have to make something that people want."
Then there was talk of how Call of Duty is vanilla ice cream and that Battlefield 3 is also vanilla ice cream and then everyone would kill for a rocky road. So expect Gearbox to make a new IP called Boulder Highway and release it whenever the hell they want, and for Ubisoft to offer something new at the launch of the next-gen consoles. Along with another version of Rayman 2, natch.