The trend that won’t go away

Nu-Rave has passed us by without a single raised eyebrow, and we clearly cannot pull off that skinny jeans look. Although to be fair, we’re no strangers to the rising popularity of crystal meth. It’s pretty moreish.

Another, more sensible trend we can boast decent knowledge of is the games industry’s shift in emphasis towards family gaming. In this week’s MCV magazine, we report on Disney, Xbox Live and Sega’s success (and indeed the limitless potential) in the family market.

A look at the charts gives you a sure sign things are changing. Some 14 out of this week’s ChartTrack All Formats top 40 might be considered family or casual titles. And seven out of the top ten best-selling budget PC releases are from the truly unstoppable Sims franchise.

And – switching industries for a moment – over at the New York Toy Fair, it seems the interactive family entertainment market is coming into its own there, too. Hannah Montana Pop Hero Guitar and Ulti-motion (a motion sensing set of sports games) are obviously inspired by video games. It’s enough to make Activision and Nintendo call in the lawyers.

But when it comes to latching onto trends in the games industry, you’ve got to be smart. The disaster that was Hasbro Interactive proves the point. Fortunately, it seems Disney Interactive Studios has judged it rather nicely.

Synergies, convergence and integration are all beloved words of David Brent-types who like to look at the whole pie and meet up to touch base.

But Disney’s brands, talent and existing infrastructure means that it can throw around those kind of buzzwords as much as it likes. It’s no surprise that Warner has followed Disney’s lead by setting up a publishing base and snapping up a developer or two. Family gaming is a perfect fit for Disney, and the likes of High School Musical provide the foundation for ‘core’ titles like Turok and Pure.

After so many years of talking about gaming entering the mainstream consciousness, the backing of a world-famous brand like Disney is a giant step. For interactive entertainment to be considered equal to its movie and TV business is not to be sniffed at.

We all discovered gaming in our (relative) youth. Now is the chance to get even more kids hooked on gaming – but not in a nasty, crystal meth sort of way.

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