Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Thursday, November 11, 2010

3 Key Game Industry Trends

Is this how most game industry executives discover trends?
Several news stories breaking this week show signs of intelligent life in the game industry, and point to the new directions the industry is taking.

Gaming Gets Bigger Worldwide. Sure, this has been happening for a while, but since the beginning of electronic gaming the industry has been built around the United States, Japan, and Europe. If you've been watching, South Korea and China have become huge audiences for gaming and have grown some very large companies. which have been buying up US and Japanese companies. Gaming is spreading beyond these regions, as this study illustrates. The Southeast Asian game market will be close to $1 billion this year, and will hit $1.7 billion by 2014. So far, most  big game successes in that area have been home-grown, but World of Warcraft shows that a US game can do pretty well in an Asian market, thank you very much.

Indie Distribution Options Get Better. Indie games have struggled to find an audience, mostly relegated to Flash game aggregators like Kongregate. Now this article shows that options are increasing; EA Partners has signed up three indie developers to bring their titles to Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), Playstation Network (PSN), and PC. It's a validation of those three games, of course, but also a message to indie developers that there is a wider market available they can reach even without the capital or experience necessary to navigate the process a Microsoft or a Sony will put you through. This also benefits EA, of course, by cutting them in on a revenue stream and helping identify good developers EA might want to acquire at some point in the future.

The Big Publishers Get Smarter. One example of this trend is the above item, where EA shows they are aware of things happening in the business and taking advantage of their strengths. An even better example is this article about comment's THQ's Brian Farrell made at an investor meeting in New York. He's planning to launch one of their AAA upcoming titles at $39.99 instead of $59.99, and hopes to make more money by selling DLC. He sees the important thing as building an audience for the title, which he can then monetize for years. Obviously it's easier to do that by selling the title at a lower price point, especially in a market environment where game sales are lagging. I think we'll see more publishers try this, and go to even greater lengths to build an audience for a title. We'll also see more different ways to monetize game development, through free-to-play and subscription options. I think the $60 price point is looking increasingly unsustainable for most titles, and we'll see fewer of those high-priced units in the future.

These trends offer some hope against the relentless drumbeat of poor sales numbers. There are going to be plenty of changes, though, so keeping ahead of things is even more vital for marketers.

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