As the video game market expands, intellectual properties become less and less exclusive. In years gone by, franchises would be strictly controlled by their publishers, the sole remit of in-house development teams and often limited to a single platform. Now, publishers will often spread rights between in-house teams and external studios, catering for everything from big-budget releases to mobile titles.
It’s a trend that has become particularly apparent in the last few years. Borderlands has had great success with its main game series, but the IP was also loaned out to Telltale Games to make the successful story-driven adventure title Tales from the Borderlands. Meanwhile, Disney may have given the major Star Wars development rights to EA, but that hasn’t stopped a variety of other developers from taking on mobile titles set in the sci-fi universe. The Call of Duty series has three developers working on games to keep up with the IP's game development cycle, each keeping a marginally different take on the gunplay that makes the series so popular.
Now Square Enix has taken an interesting turn with some cult intellectual properties. In a post over at the Square Enix Collective, the publisher revealed that it was open up to suggestions from developers for three Eidos franchises: Gex, Fear Effect and Anachronox. The three IPs all had strong followings in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but have since fallen off the map. The post also revealed that the Square Enix Collective is looking to open more properties for developer proposals in future.
The Square Enix Collective is a pre-crowdsourcing platform started in 2013, with a goal of promoting the works of developers to would-be fans and allowing them to find both backers and a fanbase. The Collective members themselves can vote on the most exciting projects, which will then go forward to be crowd-funded, with Square Enix taking 5% of the funds raised and a distribution fee of 10% net sales revenue. So far, two projects from the Collective have reached Kickstarter backing targets and entered development, with point-and-click adventure title Goetia recently approved and open for crowdfunding.
Things will work a little differently for any proposed games based on the three Eidos IPs, however. Any proposals will have to be pre-approved by the Collective heads before they go out to a public vote, with Square Enix looking to make sure that titles will remain “relevant” to the franchises. However, the Collective is looking for creative ideas, and will not turn away proposals that take the IPs in different gameplay directions. The Square Enix Collective will also take an additional 10% of net sales as a license fee for the IP, and will have a more direct involvement in the development of the game itself, as the publisher wants “to make sure the game that’s released is the game that’s promised.”
It’s an interesting concept, and one that could prove popular given the fan bases of the different franchises. The platforming of Gex had a decent following in the PS1 era, whilst the adventure/stealth hybrid Fear Effect gained plaudits for its early adoption of cel-shaded graphics. Meanwhile, RPG Anachronox was meant to have sequels, but future titles in the game’s unique universe never materialized due to the closure of studio Ion Storm. Here’s hoping developers are able to continue the franchises in ways that keep the charm of the original games.
Source: The Square Enix Collective