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Video games

The Horror: 44% of Upcoming Licensable Video Games Sequels

Karina Masolova, karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

We’ve updated our list of upcoming video games with licensing potential, and it counts 80 titles launching from 2018 and beyond. See the complete list here.

Retail sales of licensed merchandise based on video game/interactive/online-based brands reached $607 million in 2016, up 3.5% from the previous year for the U.S./Canada.

Compared to last year’s list, the breakdown of the list has remained relatively consistent. Sequels lead at 44% share of the list, followed by new IP (28%), licensed IP (25%), reboots (6%), and graphical updates (5%).

Franchise Power v. New Faces

Just as with feature films, one of the most reliable indicators of success for a video game property in merchandising is whether it is part of an established franchise. Forty-four games on the list are sequels or prequels and part of established franchises.

Many of these games—like Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Sony’s The Last of Us 2—are not a direct continuation of their predecessor, however, and feature an entirely new cast. In this way, the game’s background universe is expanded and deepened while also remaining fresh. Even licensed games like Sony’s Spider-Man and Overkill’s The Walking Dead promise entirely new, original stories for gamers to enjoy.

While sequels, reboots, graphical updates, and games based on licensed properties all provide licensees with a track record of fiscal success, new properties are considerably more difficult to judge. Although there is definitely a risk, new IP may also have a greater upside.

Compared to last year, there is a larger share of new IP with 22 titles. In part, this is because of greater optimism on TLL’s part. In evaluating these properties, we considered past licensing by the developer or licensor and fiscal/critical success of previous games.

Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas is the only game on the list with a confirmed toys-to-life element—with the decline of pioneers like Skylanders, this game has the potential of revitalizing the genre or slamming the final nail in the coffin. Just two games on the most recent list have VR elements.

Horrorcore

The biggest trend within the next two years of video games? Horror—ranging from low-key, psychological games that require the player to use their tactical skills to survive to those with harrowing hack-and-slash elements. Settings range from fantastical to historical to sci-fi—and the horribles players have to fight against likewise range from zombies to aliens to humans.

Several reboots and graphical updates fall under the horror genre, including Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 (released in 1998) and Square Enix’s Fear Effect (2000).

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