Pokemon Go was a huge success partly because it was using very strong IP. They were not the first and certainly not the last. One of the interesting trends in the mobile gaming space is that if you look at the top charts, most successful games are using External IP. Here is the 101 on leveraging existing IP in your game.
Gameplay IP saves you time and money
One form of IP that is being used by many developers is public gameplay IP. Here are some examples:
- Casino / Slots – leverage gameplay from land based casinos and real money online casinos
- Card / Board / Dice games – most of these games are digital simulations of a real world game
- Drag racing and Real racing – have been around since the early days of console games
- Match 3 – obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of games using this format
The thing about gameplay is that most people want a familiar format. They know what they like and actively look for it. Innovating on gameplay is very expansive – it requires trial and error over a long period of time and the success rate is not high. All these iterations translates to effort, time, money but most importantly risk. This is why most of the top grossing games in the last few years are relaying on existing IP when it comes to gameplay. Fortunately enough, most gameplay IP is unprotected or in other words – free.
The challenge with leveraging existing gameplay IP is that you are competing in existing categories where other companies already play.
Narrative IP can help you stand out
To get user attention in crowded categories, successful companies often leverage narrative IP in their games. This means that the story, characters and the world of the game are all based on IP that is already familiar to the user. The IP can come from a movie, tv show, celebrity, sports league, land based slot machines or PC games. Some games from the Top 100 grossing that leverage narrative IP: Pokemon go, Clash Royale, Marvel COC, Madden NFL, Star Wars – Galaxy of Heroes, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WSOP and the list goes on and on. If you are a small studio, you might not be able to afford IP from TV or movies. However, there is free IP that can be leveraged.
Pokemon Go example – leveraging existing Gameplay IP with new Narrative IP
One of the things that worked well for Niantic is that they already developed compelling gameplay IP with their game Ingress. The leveraged this IP and dressed it with the Pokemon narrative and visuals to create a new mix.
Successful games often innovate by creating new mixes. You can leverage Football IP in a runner game, Frozen Movie IP in a match-3 game and numerous games were created by mixing sports IP with flicking gameplay. Pokemon go is the most known example but it’s not the first time and not the last time a new mix is created.
Leveraging narrative IP from a successful game you created
If you already have one successful game, you will be able to leverage it’s gameplay but you can also leverage it’s narrative and visuals. Unlike what Niantic did with Pokemon Go, you can mix IPs the other way around – bringing in new gameplay. Narrative IP is less likely to get copied so that’s your real asset. Some examples:
- Rovio brought racing gameplay to angry birds IP
- Supercell brought fantasy cards game play to Clash of Clans world
- Outfit 7 brought bubble shooter gameplay to Talking Tom IP
- Color switch brought dozens of new game play types into the colorful world they created