Big Boom

12 09 2008

A couple of stories this week highlighted the current boom in games. Not only were analyst forecasts for UK game sales doubled recently, but Chief Exec of HMV Simon Fox told The Sun:

“Within the next 12 to 18 months, it’s possible games will be bigger than music for us.

“Music is in our DNA and we are totally committed to it. But the fact is, the market is moving away from music — so we are giving more space in our stores to games.”

Mr Fox was speaking as HMV revealed sales from the end of April to last Sunday were up 4.1 per cent on the previous 12 months.

He said computer games enjoyed the fastest growth, thanks to products like Grand Theft Auto IV, Wii Fit, Mario Kart and Brain Training.

He added: “In games, we grew by just over 50 per cent, ahead of the market.”

Speculation has also been flying around that Google will start publishing games. Forbes write:

There’s no question the company wants a part of the $18 billion videogame industry. The real question is: What is it planning to do to get it?

It seems they have the resources and staff in place, including ex-head of SCEA Bernie Stolar.

As ever, it’s good to see games expanding so much. However, publishers remain a massive layer of insulation between developers and profits. This is their job to a certain extent, and not some kind of evil plot, but it means that good times for games as a product are not necessarily good times for game developers. It’ll slowly make it easier for experienced developers to find jobs, but it doesn’t grant much security for studios.

(CC image by Thomas Hawk)

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Death of Leipzig Greatly Exaggerated

27 08 2008

The lingering death of E3 seems to be creating instability elsewhere, with European event organisers fighting it out to provide a better successor. As reported by MCV today, the MD of Gamescom organiser Kölnmesse is talking his show up, claiming it will replace Leipzig:

“It was to be expected that the Leipzig trade fair would try to keep the topic in its 2009 programme as well by announcing its date. But they will have to do it without the industry for the most part. The lead trade fair will take place in Cologne in 2009 and beyond.”

“From Leipzig we are bringing the clear message that the games industry will be exhibiting in 2009 in Cologne at gamescom.

We have met with broad approval, and the industry is looking forward to gathering in Cologne. Whatever happens in Germany in 2009 outside of Cologne cannot claim to represent this sector.”

Bullish, especially considering that Leipzig had record attendance at over 200,000 this year, and so many game developers have been talking it up as a good balance of trade and consumer shows during the long death rattles of E3.

However, GamesCom has the backing of the German publisher’s association, the BIU. Additionally, bad transport links have always been the Achilles’ heel of Leipzig, and and may be a big enough opening for Cologne to successfully attack. We’ll see.

For now, The Inquirer has some interesting details that aren’t being reported elsewhere:

Well, while the Leipzig organization owns the “Games Convention” IP, Kölnmesse was a bit more devious and hooked the BIU by offering it free-of-charge ownership of the GAMESCom event. So not only can Kölnmesse claim the backing, it will be the de facto official gaming entertainment tradeshow in Germany because it’s owned by BIU and regardless of whether it turns out to be a steaming pile of you-know-what.

So now, much like what happened in the UK, there’ll be two major gaming tradeshows in Germany that will eat each other up and ruin the fun for everyone.

There’s a massive opportunity in the wake of E3. Hopefully, these shows aren’t about to mutually strangle each other instead.