Why Investors Are Scared To Invest In New Media

The video game industry, the film industry, and the book industry. What do these three entertainment giants have in common? They are really fuckin scared. And the industry is expensive to produce something new.

I’m not even going to go into indie publishing and film-making and the cheap $1 app games. I won’t talk about music, either. That’s a whole other blog post. I’m talking about mass-produced, mass-consumed media products.

Why are the industries scared?

They are scared to invest in something new and different because it might not sell to an audience that has only been fed sequels and remakes and other non-original trash.

Let’s look at E3, the biggest video game expo on the planet:

  • Microsoft announced its upcoming games:  Sequel, sequel, sequel, sequel, sequel, sequel, and sequel. Then it announced two original games, both for very young children (Disney World and Elmo).
  • Sony announced its upcoming games: sequel, sequel, reboot, sequel, sequel, special edition of a sequel, sequel, another special edition of a sequel, new game based on existing property (Star Trek, for those of you interested), then three more sequels.
  • Nintendo, sadly, only offered sequels. Then it announced the new console with the idea that you can play sequels from other consoles on it.

Now, let’s take a look at someof films of 2011. 2011 is noted for being the year with the most sequels released, ever, at twenty-seven.

I’m not listing everything. I’m just making a point.

Now, when it comes to the book industry, agents and publishers are rather the same. They only want to invest in something they think will sell (it would be crazy if they wanted to try to sell something they didn’t think would work), but they have limited notions of what will sell. They think loading readers with similar stories will work – this leads to trends and crazes. Never mind that many of the greatest novels ever written were completely original, somewhat different to what others were writing, and sometimes ever only published after the author was dead.

What I’m trying to say is, the book industry doesn’t need sequels and remakes (not including trilogies and series) because so many authors are writing similar stuff already. I’ve read heaps of advice telling authors what to do, what not to do, make sure there is a beginning, middle and end and a realistic villain that is introduced early on, make the conflict evident from the fist chapter, write a satisfying climax etc. But the biggest selling novel today in YA (next to Harry Potter, of course), Twilight, barely even has a plot until three quarters of the way through the novel. Twilight doesn’t stick to the conventions of the day and as a result, too many books try to emulate what has already been used and was a major success.

Books can easily be compared, just like films and games. “If you like this book about fallen angels and romance and paranormal and teenage girl protagonists, you’ll like these hundreds of other books written for the niche that is no longer niche” – kudos to Gina of Fantasy Casting for bringing this to my attention.

That’s the beauty of the industry: yes, we do want to enjoy what we love and read/play/watch similar things to rediscover the joy we found when we read/played/watched the original: but we also need originality. We need something different. Too many industries are too afraid of investing in something new and different. How are we supposed to discover a new genre or mode of storytelling when we’re saturated with similarities? How can originality shine through when markets are saturated with the same thing?

What are your thoughts on the industries and their love of remakes/sequels/retellings/general investment of sameness? Do you like to consume similar media, or do you search for those great originals as well? Will you invest in something different when buying a new book/game/seeing a movie, or do you play it safe with something you’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy based on past experiences?

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12 thoughts on “Why Investors Are Scared To Invest In New Media

  1. Archer says:

    To be fair to the games industry, alot of games are built to be a trilogy or series i.e. Gears of War and Assassin’s Creed, but yes I agree largely. Especially around Niche no longer being niche. Things just get so far over produced that they just become crap

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    • Lissa says:

      It’s really sad that the industries have turned to give us what they KNOW we want over and over instead of offering us something new and different we could get interested in.

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  2. julihoffman says:

    I’ll try something “new” if I can find it out there. Some of my favorite books are by indie authors. I like them because they ARE different. Joleene Naylor has a great vampire story called Shades of Gray. Her vampires are much more traditional than what’s currently out there. I’m also a fan of Maureen Gill. She has a story out called January Moon. It’s a murder mystery that’s VERY well written. One of the best ones I’ve read as a matter of fact. She went indie because she was told by more than one publisher that they wanted to publish her, but she needed to “dumb down” her story if she wanted to publish traditionally. Apparently traditional publishers assume that we readers need our stories spoon fed to us because they assume we are that stupid. GRRR! No wonder nothing new comes out in ANY media! They think we’re all a bunch of sheep.

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    • Lissa says:

      It’s incredible the books that manage to slip through the cracks. So much drivel is published and some masterpieces are rejected again and again 9case in point Harry Potter).

      “Apparently traditional publishers assume that we readers need our stories spoon fed to us because they assume we are that stupid. GRRR! No wonder nothing new comes out in ANY media! They think we’re all a bunch of sheep.”

      Oh yes, it’s so true and so frustrating!

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  3. Penelope says:

    Wow, this is so true! I have noticed it in the book and movie industries, but didn’t realize it extended to games, too.

    Personally, I love a good series when it comes to books, but most of the books on my top favorites list are standalone novels. They hold more value for me because the entire story is played out, with clear resolution in the end, and my mind is engaged just enough that I’m still in love with the story by the time it all ends. With series, I’m usually done with them when they reach four books (sometimes even three). By then my interest has usually passed and I’m tired of the characters. There have been some awesome series that have 3+ books that I loved until the end, but for the most part, I definitely think less is more.

    As far as movies, there are only a few that I think should ever have had sequels. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

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    • Lissa says:

      My favourite book series was a book-a-month serial called Animorphs that went over 4 years and had 52 book not including the spin-offs. I think I want to write something like that one day.

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      • Penelope says:

        Animorphs! I loved Animorphs growing up. I have yet to read all 52 of them (our library only had about 10 of them), but I remember how excited I was every time I got a new one to read. 🙂

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        • Lissa says:

          Oh well then, you might be in luck because Scholastic are re-releasing them this year (and hopefully beyond) with edits for a contemporary audience (instead of Jake playing a Sega, for example, it’s simply a ‘gaming system’. Sega. LOL.).
          I’ve already got the complete series but when I move back to Australia I’ll probably buy them again because my original series are falling apart from re-reads.

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  4. Sleepless Knight says:

    Has you ever looked at “The Lord of the Rings” books, and compared them carefully against a list of things that publishers and agents are “not looking for” or tell authors to avoid?
    Seriously, look at them carefully against any number of DO/DON’T DO lists; those books would never have escaped the slush pile in the modern era.

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    • Lissa says:

      If I was a slush reader and came across LOTR I would have rejected it for the Tom Bombadil part alone.
      I think they simultaneously want another LOTR without it being LOTR, but with them only taking LOTR rip-offs, they’ll never find ‘the next’ of anything.

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  5. PB210 says:

    The Green Hornet did not start as a comic book. It started as a radio show, then a TV show followed. The Green Hornet has appeared in comic books, but not more often than Star Wars, Conan, Tarzan, Zorro, the Lone Ranger (his grand-uncle), etc.

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