Sometimes the games industry can get too caught up in willy waving with other forms of entertainment.
But this week comparisons with cinema are fair, if only to remind us how rough things are for games retail at the moment.
The UK’s boxed software market has generated £320m this year, while 2012 cinema Box Office receipts currently tally close to £340m.
Roughly neck and neck, then. But when you consider that the Hollywood summer season is just gearing up – while June, July and August are looking pretty sparse for games – you see the problem.
Cinema has new Spider-Man, Batman and Men In Black sequels to look forward to, plus the usual-but-popular family animated movies and some grown-up fare.
Aside from the interactive tie-ins to said movie sequels, games retail has… well, very little.
The problem here isn’t that our market won’t catch up with film in 2012 – because it will – it’s that the big games are some way off. And when they come, they come all at once.
This has been a problem for the trade since virtually time immemorial. But by now you’d have thought publishers had got to grips with planning. A smoother schedule would please retail, diminish the attraction of trading in relatively new games, give games room to breathe, and satisfy consumers year-round.
Certainly the number of families queuing up to see The Avengers proves they will hand over £40 if you offer access to decent big-budget entertainment on a rainy day.
But in big boxed video games there is very little on offer right now, much to the industry’s discredit.
SLOW PROGRESS ON PEGI, BUT IT’S BEEN WORTH IT
Parliament re-opened last week, and with it kick-started the process to turn PEGI into the de facto ratings for games.
This has been a slow, drawn-out affair, with a handful of delays and miles of red tape to cut through.
Forgive yet another comparison to the movie world, but: provided the transition is now relatively smooth, decoupling games from the BBFC’s authoritarian methods adds a level of credibility to games.
Through this process, the trade will have earned self-regulation – not many big-money business sectors can claim to have pulled that off.