The news that Game is to going into administration because nobody is going there seems at odds with recently published figures from the Entertainment Retaliers Association (ERA) showing that sales from the UK gaming industry totalled £1.93bn in 2011. Sales of DVD and other video formats ‘only’ amounted to £1.8bn. Whilst seemingly contradictory, these two stories make an important point – the game is changing.
Gaming is huge. Gamer numbers have rocketed, and traditional gamer audiences have evolved. The fact is, the people who play games aren’t the stereotype everyone’s used to seeing, and the games themselves aren’t even necessarily in the stereotypical places. Social gaming is becoming a big business, with Zynga reporting an estimated $311m (c. £194m) revenue from 153m unique users, and women make up approximately 55% of these gamers on SNS. The abililty to play with your ‘real-life friends’ attracts an older generation of women as well as those tech-savvy teens, and lends credence to the supposition that you can reach a full spectrum of people by dabbling with the world of social gaming. And it’s already being seen that social is the marijuana of the gaming industry – it seems innocent at first, but it’s only a matter of time before you’re on to the harder stuff.
Meanwhile, console gaming continues to break records. ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′ grossed £490m worldwide in the first five days of its release – to put this in context Avatar made £48m worldwide in its opening weekend. Advertisers can take advantage of the popularity of console games, accessing these worlds with in-game advertising.
The closure of Game won’t arrest this blockbuster ascent in console game revenues, but it may accelerate the evolution of gaming, in that it brings about the demise of boxed games faster, in favour of downloadable content.
So whether it’s making money directly from a popular freemium game developed with a client, or buying perimeter board space around EPL matches in FIFA, the marketing, advertising and business opportunities in the gaming sector are only beginning to be explored. So let our Gaming Future Team be the David Livingstone to your classical period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of the African continent (or blog!), as we keep our eyes peeled for all the latest developments.