We really enjoyed reading this excellent opinion piece by John Friscia of The Escapist, which explores why IP games set in weird genres are one of the best things to happen to the video game industry.
We strongly agree, and wanted to weigh in with some thoughts of our own on why some unexpected IP integrations, no matter how unusual they might seem at first, can end up being a huge success if the audience overlap is carefully considered. And, in the specific case of moving IP into video games, your IP is the right fit for the game genre you’re working with.
When most people think of IP-based games, they think about the days of licensed platform games in the ‘90s such as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, and Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time, or major sports games using licenses from FIFA, NFL and PGA.
But as The Escapist points out, there are plenty of examples of weird and wonderful crossovers in the video game world. Dragon Ball: The Breakers, is an asymmetrical survival game that has more in common with survival horror games such as Dead by Daylight than the typical beat 'em-up style you’d associate with an anime IP like Dragon Ball.
The reason it works so well is it provides fans of the IP with a route into a lesser-known game genre that allows them to manoeuvre their favourite characters through new experiences. At its most basic level, it provides a massive twist on the Dragon Ball IP, but is still a quintessential Dragon Ball game through and through as it takes all of the aspects that people know and love about Dragon Ball and simply puts them in a new creative environment.
The same can be said for the trading card video game, Marvel Snap, and Marvel’s tactical RPG, Midnight Suns. These aren’t the typical game genres you would associate with an action-heavy franchise such as Marvel, but Marvel’s massive line-up of diverse characters makes it a perfect fit for the TCG genre and tactical RPG due to the unique skills and personalities of Marvel characters.
Crossovers such as these are mutually beneficial. Video game developers can integrate well-known IP to improve the appeal of games in lesser-known genres, while IP holders get to provide fans of their IP with a new experience.
We see a lot of this happening in the mobile market too, specifically with limited-time IP integrations and crossovers. One of our favourites is the crossover between Neon Genesis Evangelion and PUBG: Mobile, which saw a giant mech from the anime stomping around PUBG: Mobile’s battle royale map. Not the first thing you’d imagine to see in a game like PUBG: Mobile, but it worked!
Similarly, we’ve seen cute Hello Kitty skins appear in the MOBA, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, and the cast of AMC’s The Walking Dead make their way into the mobile game, Puzzles and Survival.
Who knows what we’ll see next? Personally, we’d love to see a rogue-like dungeon crawler with characters from the Bleach anime (someone please make that happen…)