We’ve probably all heard the term gaming IP thrown around in online communities and even from game devs themselves. But what is a gaming IP and is the term even relevant to regular gamers?
What Is A Gaming IP?
A gaming IP is a piece of intellectual property pertaining to gaming. The property could be characters, worlds, etc. that a gaming company owns the rights to. For example, Mario is a gaming IP of Nintendo. When people talk about gaming IPs, they are usually referencing franchises (Pokemon, Dark Souls, etc.).
Gaming IP is a rather broad term, but when people are referring to an IP they are usually talking about the intellectual property of a gaming company.
More specifically, they’re usually talking about a franchise. For example, someone may talk about how much IP Nintendo actually owns the rights to or can get their hands on and how these IPs allow them to make games like Smash Bros.
People may also talk about why we may never see certain characters in Smash Bros strictly due to Nintendo being unable to get their hands on the IPs for those characters.
IP or intellectual property goes far beyond gaming, though. People also talk about IPs when discussing movies or music as well.
Intellectual property is just a broad term to describe a non-physical piece of property that was created by someone.
Characters, stories, inventions, etc. are all IP and can be trademarked / copyrighted by the creators.
What Does New IP Mean In Gaming?
In gaming a new IP means a new franchise. When a gaming company is coming out with a new IP it means they are making a game based on a story and characters that have not been seen before. A new Pokemon game is an example of an old IP, while Elden Ring is an example of a new IP unrelated to any other game.
When people talk about new IPs in gaming, they’re talking about a new piece of intellectual property that is being created by a gaming company.
Companies like Nintendo like to rehash old, successful IPs all the time because the know they work. Think of Pokemon, Mario, Halo, Dark Souls, etc.
These are all examples of non-new IPs. Companies can use these IPs to make sequels (Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3), or they can use them to make entirely new spin offs (Pokémon Legends: Arceus).
A new IP in gaming is a new idea that isn’t based on a previous franchise. Cuphead and Elden Ring, for example are new IPs. There was never a Cuphead or Elden Ring before.
These are brand new franchises, and therefore brand new gaming IPs. Nowadays new IPs are a bit more rare in gaming and even in other pieces of media such as Cinema.
Creating something with a new IP is risky because there isn’t already a fan base for the new IP so people aren’t guaranteed to spend their money on the media with the new IP.
What Is A AAA IP Game?
A AAA IP game is a high profile game based on a popular IP / franchise. These games typically have big budgets and are created by well-known and successful publishers and developers. AAA games are the equivalent of blockbusters because they are practically guaranteed to be bought and played by many people.
All games are IP games because they are all pieces of intellectual property of some kind.
However, when people talk about an IP game they are usually referring to a game based on a popular IP (Grand Theft Auto, Mario, etc).
Most of the time these popular IP games are also AAA games, which just means they have been developed by a studio with a high budget and are being published by a very well known publisher.
Thanks to the high budget, these games are usually very large and polished (not always though).
Games like Grand Theft Auto V, Dark Souls 3, Cyberpunk 2077, and Red Dead Redemption 2 are examples of AAA games.
All of these games are also based on popular IPs because most of them are sequals.
Cyberpunk 2077, though is based on a popular IP that isn’t gaming related at all since it is based on Cyberpunk 2020 which is a table top RPG.
What Is IP Recognition?
IP recognition is how easily recognized a piece of intellectual property (IP) is to the general public or a specific community of people. For example, when you see a character with a big nose, thick mustache, and red hat, you automatically think of Mario.
Sometimes you don’t even need all of these cues and just a red hat can do the trick.
This is an example of IP recognition. Nintendo has built the brand and franchise of Mario up over decades and now the IP is very recognizable to pretty much every gamer in the world.
Gaming companies want their IP to be recognized because they want their gaming franchises to be legitimate and the more recognizable and popular they are, the better.
Companies want IP recognition for a few reasons. First of all, it means their game is popular and secondly it stops other companies from being able to steal their ideas.
It’s much easier for large, AAA studios and publishers to pump out games and create IP recognition, but it can happen to even small developers.
Look at Five Nights at Freddy’s for example. The original game was created by one person and now it has one of the most recognizable IPs in the modern gaming world.
Are All Games An IP?
All games are an IP of some kind because every game is someone’s intellectual property even if the game isn’t based on another piece of intellectual property. Games like Pokemon GO, for example, are based on a popular IP, while games like Stardew Valley are their own piece of Intellectual Property.
Pretty much anything that someone creates is a piece of intellectual property, AKA an IP. Because of this, pretty much all games are an IP.
The only exceptions to this rule may be fan made games of other company’s or peoples’ IP. For example, there are many fan made Pokemon games out there.
Since the developers of these games are not Nintendo / Gamefreak and do not own the IP for Pokemon, they likely do not have the IP rights to their fan-game.
Even completely original games are IP games because as soon as the game is created it becomes the developer’s IP.
Sometimes these original IPs can spin out of control and be an entire franchise like Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Other times gaming IPs are used for spinoffs of the original franchise in games like Halo Wars or Legends of Runeterra.
How To Sell Your Gaming IP?
To sell your gaming IP you should reach out to gaming studios and publishers and discuss some sort of contract. Some publishers may outright buy your gaming IP and all of your completed code, while others may offer a lump sum plus a percentage of profits. The more well-known your IP is, the better.
The truth is that not many people are going to want to buy a gaming IP that isn’t already pretty popular. There are some ways to get around this, though.
For example, if you’re working on a game and have the demo released and the demo is getting a lot of good responses, you may be able to sell the IP to another development team or publisher.
You’ll have to hand over all of your code as well, though. If you do have a game already created and published, then selling your IP will be a lot easier.
You will likely just have to sell over the rights to use your game and its character’s names, etc.
Afterwards, of course, you probably won’t be able to make any games with that IP but most of the time publishers will make it well-worth the money.
The best way to actually go about selling a gaming IP is to reach out to companies. If your game and its IP are very popular, you may actually have companies reach out to you first.
Make sure you have a website set up and plenty of places that publishers and development studios can reach out to you (social media, email, etc.).
What Else Can IP Mean In Gaming?
In gaming IP could also refer to your IP address, which is a unique string of characters that identifies your computer. Everyone has a unique IP address, so some games may check and even store your IP address if they are multiplayer games. They do this to prevent hacking and multiple accounts.
Most of the time, in gaming, IP refers to intellectual property. However, IP could also refer to an IP address.
Some games ban players for many reasons, including cheating, harassment, and unsportsmanlike conduct.
When the games do this they may also ban the IP address of the player so that the player can’t create a new account and play the game despite the ban.
Some multiplayer games may also use P2P connections which means you will need to enter the IP address of your friend or the IP address of the server in order to connect to it.
Eric streams 3 days a week on Twitch and uploads weekly to Youtube under the moniker, StreamersPlaybook. He loves gaming, PCs, and anything else related to tech. He’s the founder of the website StreamersPlaybook and loves helping people answer their streaming, gaming, and PC questions.