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Video Game-based Merchandise Back on Track

This year video game/interactive/online-based merchandise turned around from a 4% loss in retail sales of licensed merchandise in 2014 to a 2% gain for 2015 according to The Licensing Letter’s Annual Business Survey. The category has begun to recover from the sharp decline caused by Angry Birds, which made up the bulk of sales in the sector. Growth came from the resurgence of classic properties like Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris and Capcom, the continued activity of franchises like Halo and Call of Duty (which have the largest esports tournaments) and newcomers like Minecraft.

The video game industry is much like the movie business, which relies heavily on sequels and established franchises to fill its coffers. Of the Top 10 video game titles for 2015 ranked by The NPD Group, eight are franchises and the remaining two are established IPs (Microsoft’s Minecraft and EA’s Star Wars). The list resembles more of the old boy’s club than had in 2014, where two original games made their way onto the list (Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and Activision’s Destiny).

Top 10 Best-selling Games, 2015
Ranking: The NPD Group
1Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIXbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC
2Madden NFL 16PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3
3Fallout 4PS4, Xbox One, PC
4Star Wars: BattlefrontXbox One, PS4, PC
5Grand Theft Auto VPS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC
6NBA 2K16PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3
7Minecraft360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
8FIFA 16PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3
9Mortal Kombat XPS4, Xbox One
10Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareXbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC

The most significant reason for the large drop in retail sales in previous years was the slump caused by the mobile game app Angry Birds—which is expected to enjoy a spike in retail sales in 2016 thanks to the new animated film, set to hit theaters May 20, 2016.

Also expected to boost sales in 2016 is the breakout video game brand for 2016, Five Nights at Freddy’s, a 2014 indie point-and-click survival horror video game represented by Striker Entertainment in the U.S. and Canada. The fourth installment was released July 23, 2015.

See below for more upcoming games with licensing potential:

Planned Video Game Releases With Licensing Potential, 2016–2017
GamePlanned ReleasePublisherSequelRebootNew IPLicensedGraphical Update
Final Fantasy VII: RemakeLong anticipated HD remake of the 1997 game.12.30.2016Square EnixXX
Ratchet & ClankReimagining of the character-driven action game series, with a film on the way in 2015. IP Factory is current licensee for statues.4.29.2016SonyX
Quantum BreakTime travel action game formatted in the style of a TV series.4.5.2016MicrosoftX
DoomId Software's reboot of the horror-themed shooter series.5.13.2016Bethesda SoftworksX
Deux Ex Mankind DividedCyberpunk themed sequel to 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution8.23.2016Square EnixX
Crackdown 3Reimagining of 2007's open-world superhero crime game, created by Lemmings/Grand Theft Auto creator David Jones. Q3 2016MicrosoftX
ReCoreA new game from the creators of Metroid Prime and Mega Man features a woman and her robot dog fighting enemies in a desert wasteland.Q3 2016MicrosoftX
Gears of War 4Next chapter in the best-selling sci-fi series.Q4 2016MicrosoftX
Dead Island 2San Francisco-set zombie game sequel from the creators of Spec Ops: The Line.TBA 2016Deep SilverX
Dishonored 2Sequel to 2012's Dishonored.TBA 2016Bethesda SoftworksX
DreamsFrom the developer of LittleBigPlanet, this game lets players "piece together a whole environment in moments" to explore one another's dreams.TBA 2016SonyX
Homefront: The RevolutionSequel to THQ's 2001 game, Homefront, set in a U.S. invaded by the Greater Korean Republic.TBA 2016Deep SilverXX
Horizon: Zero DawnAction role-playing game set after the fall of civilization, from the creators of the Killzone franchise.TBA 2016SonyX
Sea of ThievesDeveloper Rare (Banjo Kazooie, Battletoads) is creating this pirate adventure game.TBA 2016MicrosoftX
South Park: The Fractured but WholeA superhero themed origin story of "The New Kid."TBA 2016UbisoftXX
The Last GuardianA young boy travels with a mysterious creature through a beautiful and treacherous fantasy world in this much-anticipated title originally announced in 2007.TBA 2016SonyX
The Legend of ZeldaUpcoming installment in longstanding action/role playing franchise starring Link. Series licensees include Fifth Sun (apparel) and Dark Horse Comics (statues).TBA 2016NintendoX
World of Final FantasyBrand new game with cutesy versions of classic Final Fantasy characters.TBA 2016Square EnixXX
Mass Effect: AndromedaNewest entry into BioWare's science fiction action/role playing game series. Past licensees include Dark Horse Comics (collectibles, comics), IP Factory (collectibles) and Black Milk Clothing (women's apparel).Q1 2017Electronic ArtsX
Shenmue IIIDirector Yu Suzuki during Sony's E3 press conference announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2 million to start development of this sequel, 14 years after Shenmue II.Q4 2017TBDX
For HonorNext big new IP from Ubisoft is a combat game featuring brutal battles between three factions.TBAUbisoftX
Phantom DustAction/strategy game and remake of the 2004 title of the same name for the Xbox One.TBAMicrosoftX
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: WildlandsGlobetrotting installment in the Ghost Recon shooter series.TBAUbisoftXX


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