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FOCUS: Brand Licensing

Ben Parfitt
FOCUS: Brand Licensing

Brand Licensing Europe kicks off on Tuesday, September 28th at London’s Olympia and runs to Thursday, September 30th. Free registrations are available at www.brandlicensing.eu.

Licensing has become a crucial part of the video game industry in several ways.

First off, games based on licences account for at least half of all the games sold worldwide. And many of the perennially successful global game franchises use third party IP, such as Spider-Man, FIFA and Gran Turismo.

But licensing can also help with market expansion, and publishers are now licensing out their games brands into merchandise categories.

MARKET EXPANSION


The history of video games has been about complicated triple-A titles with rising development budgets, to be played on powerful consoles by hardcore gamers. But the immediate future is about casual games with modest development budgets, to be played on multiple platforms – all while targeting a mainstream audience.

With the proliferation of platforms and the expansion of the market for gamers, opportunities have opened up for big licensed games which would not previously have been as successful as triple-A hardcore titles.

The expansion of the market to young children, mainly thanks to Nintendo Wii and DS, has led to strong game sales for television properties such as Peppa Pig and Ben 10.

The growth in casual gaming, along with an ability to anticipate the convergence of a platform’s life cycle – with key target audience demographics and the right branded game – has yielded strong sales. 

AT New Media has brokered a range of licenses to games including PDC Darts and Horrible Histories.

The mobile games market has always relied heavily on licences and, thanks particularly to Apple and its popular business model, publishers are now enjoying strong sales for licensed games such as Monopoly and Tiger Woods. 

Famous brands help to overcome the biggest challenge in the App Store – how to get a game noticed among the huge quantity of others.

Most of the games companies attending Brand Licensing Europe will be visiting to search for suitable licences.

And they should be striving to match game concept with platform and target audience with genre-leading brand. But in a neat twist, games companies are also exhibiting at the show, seeking merchandise licensees for popular games brands such as LittleBigPlanet and Rayman. In fact, products like SackBoy soft toys and keyrings are already available at retail.

Licensing out their own video game IP can benefits games companies in three main ways. These are brand promotion, trademark protection and royalty revenue.

FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES

Despite this potential, there is still a lack of understanding by many rights owners, publishers and developers.

Most rights owners need more knowledge and understanding of the games market and the opportunities available for their brands. 

The complexity of multiple platforms and business models is difficult for firms to follow and many need advice on how to be proactive.

Most publishers and developers lack the time to keep on top of who owns which rights, whether they are available, how to submit licensing proposals and which licences to target. 

In a time where profits can be gained by licensing the strongest brand in a genre for a specific audience on the ideal platform, they need advice and resources to sharpen their focus.

AT New Media will be launching a new service at Brand Licensing Europe 2010 – named AT Project. This is one way we want to help and enable licensors to fully understand the details behind the development of games using their IP. It will also enable developers to streamline approvals processes.

The inter-reliance of games and licensing continues to grow. As companies emerge from the recession and seek new business, few business models offer so many opportunities and such rapid returns to shrewd games licensors and licensees. The event helps firms to find these opportunities.

* AT New Media brokers licenses between brand owners and games publishers or developers, which provides a deep insight into the needs of each type of company. The company’s stand at Brand Licensing Europe will be in the ‘Advice Centre’ area of the show floor.

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