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New IP is likely to suffer this year, says Hayes

Sega Europe president expresses concern over original content as publishers refocus

One of the casualties of the ailing economy this year could be new IP, as publishers refocus their portfolios and cut back as far as possible on risks - something which might not be good for the consumer in the long run.

That's according to Sega Europe president and COO, Mike Hayes, who told GamesIndustry.biz that it's also a symptom of the number of high quality titles in the marketplace.

"This time around there's definitely an oversupply of good games in the market from publishers," he said. "I think that was very evident in the UK at Christmas when you had fantastic games coming out and selling great in the first week, maybe two, and then falling off a cliff.

"We were fortunate, because we only had Football Manager and Mario & Sonic, so we weren't bringing out any new IP - but speaking to friends at other publishers, they have been saying they were disappointed with sales, they were being quite open about it.

"The price therefore comes down, which is great for the consumers because they're great games, but I just think this time around all of those three things means that we're as embroiled in the situation, if not as much as anyone else, then we're at least in there fighting, and it's therefore difficult."

But he doesn't think it's a problem of price points, even though many would still describe videogames at GBP 50 as luxury items, compared to other entertainment media.

"I don't think it's accessibility of price, I just think it's physically about the time you've got," he explained. "You've got Gears of War 2, FIFA, PES, Football Manager, Mirror's Edge - I don't think you've got enough time to actually play them all.

"The downside is that I think that publishers in general will reduce the number of titles that they'll bring to market. Whether than means people will focus less on innovation and more on sequelisation of course is a big debate.

"What we're actually doing is getting rid of the bottom tier of titles that we were putting in to get an extra bit of market share, of money. We're getting rid of those, and we're going to focus on the biggest titles - but we do have a lot of new IP coming out. We've invested in things like MadWorld, for example, and we feel our line-up is good enough that we can take that.

"But I think a lot of other publishers, and EA have been quite open on this, will stop a lot of projects and cut back. Ultimately I think the number will go down, which will probably be less good for consumers."

Part one of the interview with Mike Hayes, in which he gives his views on where the economy will take us, and summarises Sega Europe's position in the market, is available now.

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Phil Elliott