Our fearless director of communications, Chris Anderson (or Candy as we know him), sat down recently with our director of gaming, John O’Connell, out of Los Angeles John O’Connell for a Q&A. Below are some questions, answers, and insights on the future of gaming.
Despite a comparatively high price tag, video games have remained strong throughout the period of economic difficulties we’ve suffered recently. Why do you think that is?
In this economy consumers are making smarter choices by second nature – they do the math when they turnaround the game on the shelf or scroll down online. The core gamer and their family could tell you firsthand that gaming as a choice for their hard earned entertainment dollars is providing greater value than their other options. Additionally, top franchises tend to provide online and offline multiplayer features. The opportunity to entertain both the player making the purchase and their circle of family and friends is a key factor as well.
Technology obviously has an enormous impact on this category.
What are some of the recent developments in technology that have had a major impact on video games?
The maturation of the platforms and services surrounding the typical gaming experience. Xbox LIVE, PLAYSTATION Network, Steam and the Wii Shop Channel provide the opportunity for trial, additional content, and social services effortlessly packaged around the player’s core experience. Apps like Netflix streaming, video chat, and facebook are also changing the land scape by providing more return on the consumers upfront investments when they bring hardware home.
How has the video game market changed in the last year?
I read this morning that Nintendo has now sold more Nintendo DS systems than the population of Japan itself. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest entertainment launch in history. The video game market is beginning to represent its true scale. The success of 3D HDTVs this coming year will likely hinge on whether or not 3D gaming for the consumer is an experience that justifies the purchase.
Is there a particular type of system (gaming console/PC/portable system/mobile games and apps) that has been gaining extra popularity this year? If yes, why this particular part of the category?
Mainstream adoption of the Blu Ray format coupled with competitive pricing has repositioned the PLAYSTATION 3 in the marketplace, but the biggest growth was around social network games. Inherently the zero cost of entry and netbook level hardware requirements have made Zygna’s Farmville a household name. The viral nature and play mechanics which reward your social behaviors are percolating throughout gaming at large.
What do you think today’s consumers are looking for in their video games?
Today’s consumers, in light of the technological advances and services, are more often asking themselves Are my friends playing this? and /or Who would I play this with? Consumers now make decisions based on their preferences for where and what their social circles are playing because it enhances their own experiences.
What do you feel is the largest demographic for video games? What are some of the other demographics that manufacturers are trying to appeal to?
Audiences with access to portable devices in developing countries. Regarding other demographics, it really depends on the specific game and how developers are tailoring their experiences to each platform they publish on. Consoles are now in the living room providing entertainment for everyone in the family, the new demographics are sometimes those which personally identify themselves as non-gamers because we’ve culturally limited what a gamer is in the past and social network games break the mold.
From your point of view, what are the major shows and events in the category and how do they impact the business and specifically your business?
E3 is ideal for publishers coming to market with messaging around fourth quarter titles, but as the category has evolved these expand ed audiences have diversified genres – in any given month, big releases are launching every other week with an emphasis on the windows that are complimentary to the content. I manage client’s strategic partnerships which can include in-game integrations so my dialog typically begins a year or more in advance and is not tied to events, but the Game Developer’s Conference, the D.I.C.E. Summit and the Consumer Electronics Show play an important role. San Diego Comic Con’s timing and public attendance format make it the place to activate and make an impact on pop culture at large.
What do you think the future holds for the video game category? What are some of the changes coming up?
A major shift is from games as product towards games as a service. Almost everyone in their respective areas is trying to crack the code on how to create, market, distribute, and sustain players’ experiences. ow to create, market, distribute, and sustain players’ experiences.