Breaking free with your own IP: Insomniac's CEO on what's next (besides Ratchet & Clank)

There's a big craze these days with independent developers, though the idea isn't all that crazy. Developers, as it turns out, like to own the stuff they create – Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games is no different. And here's something you might not know about Insomniac: the studio owns virtually none of the iconic characters or worlds it's created. Not Ratchet, not Clank, not the world of Spyro the Dragon. That last one cuts especially deep considering the vast riches Activision's reaped from its Spyro-based Skylanders game. The former two are Sony-owned.

With Fuse (which we think used to be Overstrike) and Outernauts, Insomniac is pushing in a new direction. "For us, we're at the point in our growth as a company where we can own our intellectual property," Insomniac president and CEO Ted Price told us in an interview last week. "That's been gratifying for us because, as creators, controlling your own destiny – controlling the IP that you build – is important." Beyond its financial importance, owning IP also means unfortunate spin-offs of properties you created can't be farmed out to other studios (see: Resistance: Burning Skies).

It's important to note what Price says about his studio not being able to own its previous projects. When Insomniac started in 1994, it produced only franchises owned by its publishers. Quite literally everything the company created up until Outernauts and Overstrike/Fuse was owned by outside forces. That's why you will assuredly see more Resistance games, despite Insomniac outright stating it won't work on any more (at least any time soon) – Sony owns the IP rights to the Resistance franchise and can do with them as it pleases.

It's not for a lack of want, of course. Insomniac simply wasn't in a position of leverage to keep its IP in the past. But with three major franchises behind the studio, what time better than now? Price pointed out that the game industry is also in a state of flux at the moment, making now all the more advantageous. "The industry has changed a lot since we were on PlayStation 2. It's no longer as console-centric as it used to be, with the rise of mobile and browser-based games. And we're seeing it continue to spread out, which means more opportunities to do things like own IP," he said.

And with the company's first Facebook game, Outernauts, Insomniac took a step in the direction of IP ownership. With its next project – the EA Partners-published Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 co-op shooter Fuse – the company takes one more step toward freedom.