Former SCEE president and Codemasters chairman Chris Deering told the Edinburgh Interactive Festival that publishers of today’s biggest games should aim for ten million sales – as the ‘winners win big’ from changes in business models.
Industry legend Deering cited Ubisoft’s Assassin's Creed, which he said had sold approximately nine million units since release, as he discussed the evolution of the video games trade.
He said that the recession had created “great opportunities and great threats” for the industry, and claimed that one in every four gamers today is over 50 years old.
“This recession has changed the scene for the world – and the games industry has not been unaffected,” he said. “The industry has also been affected by evolutionary changes – with both presenting opportunities and great threats to the industry as we know it.
“Unlike many businesses, gaming is as big as ever. It’s bigger than DVD, bigger than the cinema box office, bigger than books and bigger than the music industry. Can you imagine? We used to have our games distributed by the music biz.”
He added: “The big winners in this environment will win big. Ten million unit sales of software is now possible – Assassin's Creed has sold just over nine. It’s also possible to get ten million subscriptions to your MMO. Everquest was thrilled ten years ago to get 400,000 playing it. Times have changed.”
In EIF’s opening speech, Deering cited stats that handheld console sales have now topped 100 million, with smart phone sales nearing 500 million. He said that users of Facebook “consume two billion minutes per month of ‘airtime’".
He pointed to the rise in new online payment models, streaming and cloud gaming as growth areas of the market, comparing the industry’s evolution to that of the music industry in years gone by.
“Just like them, we’re moving from ‘albums’ to ‘singles’,” he said. “iTunes was disruptive for the music business and they had to adapt. That’s happening today in the games industry. [In terms of pricing], we’re moving from ‘hardback’ to ‘paperback’ with different types of free low-cost trial, pay-as-you-play payment models.”
He added “But most game companies struggle with new business realities. They’re stepping across minefields. Business will succeed in this environment, of course – but not just the people we consider part of the industry today. New forces are emerging.”