FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Gaming Industry Surpasses Film Industry

Video and computer gaming is on a roll... so much so that the industry's $10 billion annual revenue has surpassed that of Hollywood. Game titles such as Halo 2, Sims 2, Grand Theft Auto and Half-Life are household words, even in households without gamers. New releases of games attract crowds and long lines normally reserved for blockbuster movies and and albums from the hottest music acts.

[Alert readers have noted that the gaming industry has surpassed domestic film box-office revenue only, not DVD rentals or overseas releases. However, even this is a significant achievement.]

In November alone, sales of video games hit $849 million. When Microsoft released Halo 2 last month, it reported sales of $125 million in the first 24 hours! Compare that with this year's biggest opening weekend for a movie (Spider-Man 2), which grossed $114 million.

What's driving these numbers? Clearly, the technology keeps getting better every year, which in turn attracts talented programmers and other creative types who want to develop even better games. But unlike the Atari and Coleco games kids that my generation grew up with, today's games are aimed at adults (whicn explains why games feature more sex and violence). Gamers in their 20's and 30's with disposable income and time on their hands cheerfully plunk down $50 a copy for the latest games. Indeed, a survey by the Entertainment Software Association found that the average gamer is 29 and spends more time playing games than watching TV or going to the movies.

Read that last sentence again. This is where today's -- and tomorrow's -- entertainment dollars are going. Investors, marketers, creatives and advertisers all must take careful note if they want to stay on top of this demographic. Expect also to hear more news and controversy concerning games, ranging from the effectiveness of rating labels to their potential role in the decline of other media.

Source: Slashdot