Hmm, I suppose it becomes a high risk, high reward type of situation. Crank up the dev team size, do a massive marketing blitz, and churn it out as quick as the team can. There's the potential to make huge profit and reach much higher numbers due to increased marketing and mindshare if it succeeds, but if it fails you're in a pretty bad spot. I suppose that's why one screwup can have a studio shut down or an IP dying off.
Wonder what Battleborn means for Gearbox and 2K. Huge budget and marketing campaign and the sales were completely lukewarm as Overwatch ate its lunch. Only `~100-110k Steam owners according to Steamspy, and Amazon charts and UK sales numbers paint a very grim outlook for sales on the console side as well. Quantum Break as well, and I'll be honest I don't see Microsoft continuing to work with Remedy after Quantum Break.
Fortunately I don't care for either of these companies, but it makes me a bit uneasy to know there's not enough people out there who enjoy the games that I do to have them made, or to have them be successes if they are made. It's much safer to churn out another derivative sequel, another open world MMO-lite, another climb-the-radio-tower open world game. Shit sucks.
While all you say is very true (and very depressing) I think we are starting to see that these derivative games with massive marketing muscle are losing steam post launch. Just look at the Division: it's basically a poster child for derivative uninspired game design propped up by an awe inspiring marketing campaign. While it sold remarkably well its first month it's practically dropped off the face of the earth in the following month. Then when you look at successful new IPs like Destiny or even new twists on existing IP like Far Cry Primal You see that these titles tend to have very very long legs selling well off of WOM between friends and social media.
I think WOM is slowly but surely replacing massive marketing campaigns as the core driver of sales but I digress. I think we are starting to witness a growing disillusionment with sequels and formulas. Increasingly these sorts of titles are so heavily skewed towards debut sales figures which perpetually feeds the need for more and more bombastic marketing budgets to ensure those figures are profitable ones. This stands in stark contrast to the profitable new IPs this gen that have gone on to sell remarkably well for months and months after their initial release (see Splatoon or Minecraft) despite generally having a fraction of the marketing money you would see behind these big sequels.
While there will always be exceptions of existing IPs just being constant awe inspiring blockbusters like CoD or GTA I do think that the market is responding well to new fresh ideas as can be evidenced by the extended sales lifetime of these titles. I also think we are starting to see a shift towards the sales power of WOM over marketing $ (for a recent example see Rachet and Clank). At the same time it's not enough to just be a new IP as only new IPs offering something unique, exceptionally well polished or remarkable are getting far better sales than their otherwise meager marketing budgets would imply. So while the current market reality of predictable IP farms and derivative game design is a sad sight to behold I do think consumers are showing more and more that what they want are new ideas and fresh concepts. But I could be wrong this is just the impressions I get from the context of successful new IP sales figures thus far this gen.