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Games business

June 05, 2005 ・ Blog

Do videogamers, among enthusiast groups, have a disproportionately large interest in the business behind their interest?

Do car fans obsess over every new business decision made by Volvo or Mercedes? Do gardeners get excited about the latest compost trade show in Los Angeles?

I really don’t know, but what I do know is that videogamers are absolutely fascinated by the business of games, much as their analysis of it is often uninformed, misreported, narrowminded and partisan.

Perhaps it’s because the (console) videogames market is relatively simple – dominated by three hardware manufacturers (Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) and maybe around ten software publishers (EA, Ubisoft, Konami, Capcom, Namco et al). Perhaps also because it’s volatile and ever shifting, with new hardware launches making huge effects on the market every six or seven years and continual development of software and games. Perhaps also because it’s an emerging business – still learning how to trade, organise and market itself.

At prospects like figuring out how the videogame landscape will settle with the launch of Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Revolution, videogamers fancy themselves business seers, extrapolating theories from every fragment and morsel of news, marketing crap and rumour.

It’s therefore almost all worthless; have a read of this great article about how Nintendo’s great success in terms of business illustrates the holes in videogamer business analysis. For instance, it criticises how videogamers scorned the Game Boy Micro launched at E3 (a mini version of the GBA), despite the huge likelihood that it will generate a lot of cash for Nintendo.

Which brings me back to why anyone should be interested in the videogame business. My interest in the Game Boy Micro is about how it will add to videogame culture, or help fund with its sales, future Nintendo projects that will. In other words, my interest in videogame business is not for its own sake. Rather, it’s a way of anticipating what I might be playing in the future.