"I moved out of the core games industry five years ago, into the mobile space with iPlay – and I returned in 2008 with Microsoft. It’s been very interesting to see what’s changed.
The industry’s enjoyed tremendous growth across Europe – we’re at about $15 billion revenue depending on whose research you believe. In ’08 the market grew about 30 per cent year on year. That’s truly fantastic. And that growth has been driven by broadening, which is even more outstanding.
All credit to my old friends at Nintendo – they’ve done a fantastic job and the rest of the industry has seen the opportunity to break out of the niche. Microsoft is creating more social experiences and getting teenagers to play with their parents for the first time in decades. This industry keeps reinventing itself. It’s young – still only 30 years-old – and dynamic, and keeps reinventing itself. It’s great to see.
‘Barrier of Acceptance’
But it frustrates me that from a public standpoint, the industry still hasn’t got the stature, credibility and cut through that we all deserve. I still get the sense we’re sandwiched somewhere between corporate bankers and taxmen in terms of society’s general perception.
Ask people about what the industry provides, and they’d probably say: “I don’t really know.” Or they’ll think we just stand for shooter boxes.
There’s been improvement, but not the quantum leap there should have been. We should be as loved as Hollywood is or the music industry is. Yet we are not. That’s not because people aren’t trying. But there seems to be a barrier of acceptance.
When we’re saving the High Street and bringing families back together again, we should be recognised for that.
More specifically, we should be rewarded by Government organisations giving us incentives to drive development within the region. It’s that creativity that will continue to drive the success of the business. We’re not taken as seriously as we should be.
Tens of thousands of people work in this industry across Europe. Around 40,000 outlets around the region sell the product.
It’s expensive to make games today – we’re talking $20 million dollars. ISFE is doing a great job, but the whole industry must work much harder together to improve our credibility.
We need to talk to schools, and talk to non-governmental organisations. If we all gave one per cent of our time to do so, all of a sudden you have tens of thousands of advocates promoting the contribution this industry makes to society. We have to stand up proud, work with the media, NGOs and the Government to make a difference.
Live has been Xbox’s best kept secret in this regard – and we’re really going to sing about it this year. Three and a half million music downloads happen every month. It’s the ultimate in terms of a social experience. I sit and play Guitar Hero with my teenage daughter. That’s a great example of bringing families and generations together.
‘Let’s kill prehistoric view’
Live is the most social network that exists on console today. We have a hugely engaged user base. Our job now is to publicise the fact. The launch of NXE last year was the start of that. We’ve just released a new TV ad that talks about downloading music on Xbox 360.
I don’t want to get involved in the issues surrounding this year’s [Change4Life] ad – it’s in the past. But that picture is a stereotypical, prehistoric view of the industry, yet it still for some people represents what the industry stands for. We all need to work on changing that fact – together.