OPINION: Virgin’s gaming return

Global entrepreneur Richard Branson is set to surprise the industry when his Virgin brand returns to games next month.

While the company hasn’t confirmed the news direct (although our source is watertight), I reckon Virgin’s move into online gaming proves two things.

Firstly, it speaks to the relative stability, attractiveness and potential of online services. These are now so entrenched in consumer views and business expectations of video games that even newcomers think they can devise services which complement or even rival the likes of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Just look at OnLive, a minority stake in which is now owned by BT, or Ubisoft’s Uplay.

Secondly, the increasingly high profile of games is attracting the attention of high profile personalities and investors previously uninterested in games.

How things have changed – just a year ago, format holders were having to pay big name celebs like McCartney and Spielberg to rock up to LA and endorse new games at their E3 events. 12 months later, they’re holding their own press conferences…

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