Start with an IP and build around it. IPs need to have unique, artistic, and emotional intent. Create an experience that your development team can own.
Many of the best IPs are character based. Create an experience that is built around a character, or cast of characters.
Devs can get too invested in the game they make, but the market does not share the same sentiment. Unbiased Market Research will inform you if the market is interested in your game.
You have to think about how to communicate the experience of a new IP to new people. Your marketing material should showcase the experience players will have through interactions and game mechanics. Use A/B testing with your marketing material to determine the best way to communicate your IP to the market.
If your IP innovates too much, then people likely won't understand the experience. Make an IP that has a solid gameplay experience with a little innovation. IPs that try to innovate too much can become more difficult to market to a general audience.
Transition to selling emotional experiences through a series of games. Human beings prefer things they already have an emotional relationship with. That’s why all the top-selling games are sequels or spin-offs of existing IPs, or games developed by an established brand.
A strong IP can migrate to other media and become an Entertainment Property. Investors are thinking about this when you pitch an IP to them.
Sometimes the Dev Team becomes the Brand. People trust their capabilities to deliver quality games. Building an IP and/or Brand improves future market success. Indies that have to compete against IPs and Brands, are put at a disadvantage.
You need to balance creativity with business. Have a long-term sustainable goal for your game and company. Plan for success.
Yacht Club’s Shovel Knight is a successful character based IP. Continued success has been seen through the release of sequels, spin-offs, cameos in other games, and a figurine.
After the success of FTL: Faster Than Light as Subset Games first IP, the trust in the studio as a Brand helped their second game, Into the Breach, become a successful IP.