I'm really not going to get into a debate with someone who isn't clear on how important brands are to sales or suggests there isn't vast empirical data on it.
Two sodas. They're identical. One is called Coca Cola. The other is called "Fizz One".
We can debate on the value of these brands. But that's subjective and unless you have a background in marketing and product sales, it's not a very interesting discussion to have.
I dont have any background of that sort. And i am not saying that there is no empirical data on how important brands are. However, i doubt there is any study targeted specifically on computer game brands and how these influence customers. Pretending its the same way and to the same extent as with sodas is... lets just say pretty much saying both are targeting same kind of customer. Surely its not that simple?
Wargaming.net paid about $2M for the Master of Orion mark.
It's like asking why bother advertising?
Broadly speaking, the goal of marketing is to push/pull customers towards a specific objective (often towards sales conversion).
As you may recall, there was a Supreme Commander 2 which did not play that much like Supreme Commander 1. Supreme Commander 2 sold over a million units. I suspect the average SupCom:FA fan prefers Ashes over SupCom 2.
So in other words SupCom 2 sold more than Ashes to this point, right? You assume its because the brand, and its surely to certain extent true, but you need to consider other reasons, why its not as successful.
With SupCom 2, the fans of the original game expected more of the same. That did not happen for various reasons.
Ashes, on other hand, was in its beginning:
- more compared to Total Annihilation that SupCom
- lacked strategic zoom, which is SupCom´s major feature, and even though you think average SC:FA fan my prefer Escalation over SC2 now, that might not have been true with vanilla game
- SupCom2 was pretty much full feature game at its release, having 3 factions, naval units, T4 units, superweapons, i assume proper single player campaign (never played though) - in many ways it felt pretty much compete product, regardless of the fact it was "worse" than SC1, which is more or less matter of subjective opinion. Meanwhile Ashes was at its release barebone game and some things are still missing (like navy). You said that much yourself and why it is that way (budget reasons).
These are IMO objective and valid reasons why not to buy Ashes, to someone, who liked SupCom, beyond the fact its named differently.
I give you though, if it was named the same, there would no doubt be people, who would turn blind eye on all its shortcomings and buy anyway based on the name (and be dissapointed as in case with SC2). The question is, would there be enough of them to return the initial investment on buying the IP? Obviously i have no way to know. I just think its not that clear cut that it is always worth it. Maybe with SupCom it would, but i have my doubts about Star Control in this regard.