Now, Xbox 360 fanboys, before you start your raving, I ask that you hear me out on this. Once you get to the end of the article, you can start your horn-tooting. PS3 fanboys, before you start calling Natal a glorified EyeToy, first ask yourself why anyone would want to copy that crap, then note that I have a tendency to be sarcastic, then note that this is not an article designed to bash (or praise) anyone. Just hit the back button on your browser if that's why you're here. Lastly, Wii fanboys – who am I kidding, there's no such thing as a Wii fanboy (editor's note to self: expect sarcasm to be greatly overlooked here).
Do you complain about $10 games? Then Q-Games developer Dylan Cuthbert has something to say to you. The Pixel Junk developer is annoyed by cheap gamers and thinks that it's "ridiculous that people complain about that price point."
It's also what disappoints him the most in the industry. When asked that question by Develop, he responded, "Gamers complaining about our games being too expensive at 10 dollars. I'm not sure this is an industry problem, but it seems ridiculous that people complain about that price point."
According to the recent NPD Group figures, the US video game market saw an 8% contraction in 2009 from the previous year. The industry generated $19.66 billion, $1.74 billion short of 2008's annual revenue.
This follows suit with what analyst Michael Pachter said back in December regarding the industry's slowdown. "2009 appears to be an all-out miserable year for both hardware and software sales," he wrote in an investors note. "After two consecutive phenomenal years of growth, with software sales up 34% and 27% in 2007 and 2008, respectively, it should have been evident that a slowdown was coming, but many observers (including us) were lulled into the belief that the video game software business was recession-proof."
A report issued by Activision today suggests that the video game industry might not be the Antichrist after all. In fact, the industry has actually improved its job of protecting children from violent video games. According to the report, a surprising 70% of parents consult the ESRB rating of a game before purchasing it for their children, and a massive 82% said they are familiar with how the ratings system works. The report also indicates that 63% of parents also consider themselves gamers.
The survey was conducted by The Harrison Group as part of Activision's "Ratings Are Not a Game" educational initiative and focused on the awareness and influence of the ESRB rating system on both children and their parents.
"Parents rely on and value the ESRB ratings in helping them decide which games to allow their children to play," said Mike Griffith, President and CEO of Activision Publishing. "Our 'Ratings Are Not A Game' education initiative underscores our commitment to helping parents better understand and utilize the ratings system as they select age appropriate games and determine the best way for the entire family to enjoy the gaming experience."
Online gaming has seen a surge of popularity in recent years, particularly with platforms such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Steam. Research and analysis group Screen Digest expects the craze to only continue, with 2010 seeing a particular swell.
A report released by the firm suggests that the online games market will make up 24% of the combined physical and online market in the US in 2010, a 6% increase from last year. The report also noted that new technologies being introduced into the market, such as Microsoft's Project Natal and Sony's unnamed motion controller, will play a big part in the continuation of this trend.
While this year might not have been the best for new releases in terms of quality, it certainly was in terms of quantity. According to the latest EEDAR GamePulse report, 1,099 games were released to retail outlets throughout the year, which is only a slight increase of seven titles from last year's count.
According to the report, store shelves are being filled by games that are becoming permanent stapes, such as Modern Warfare 2. Not very promising news for the industry, but 2010 is supposed to be better, right? Right?!
Even with the massive layoffs seen in the gaming industry, game development employment has remained at roughly the same level as it was at last year. Game Developer Research issued its third-annual industry census today, indicating that the number of people employed in the video game industry in the U.S. is 44,806, roughly an increase of 406 employees from last year. Game Developer Research points out that the relatively large number of studios that were opened this year offset the layoffs.
"We're pleased to be debuting the latest Game Developer Census for North America," said Simon Carless, global brand director of the Think Services Game Group. "The report offers a comprehensive snapshot of the financial health of the industry. For industry watchers, this is an essential document to discover the state of the games business."
Let's face it, 2009 was a crap year for the gaming industry. Despite all of the analysts' predictions, the industry took a significant loss according to recent NPD figures. A new DFC Intelligence report only confirms this information.
"As for overall forecasts, we are sad to report that we expect the global videogame and interactive entertainment industry to be down 12% in 2009 from its peak in 2008," the report states. "The industry is expected to be flat in the 2010 to 2012 timeframe. Almost all of this slowdown is because of a downturn in sales for the traditional dedicated console and portable game market. While we caution that currency fluctuations can make global comparisons difficult, DFC Intelligence believes that retail software sales for dedicated console and portable systems peaked in 2008 at about $30 billion worldwide and will not reach that level in the foreseeable future. In 2015 retail software sales for dedicated video game console and portable game systems are expected to be about $23 billion worldwide."
What an awesome Christmas season this is turning out to be. Two Futuremark employees, Petri Jarvinen (Level Designer) and Nick Renqvist (Audio Designer) have posted on the official Futuremark forums that they are no longer working for the company. As you might know, Futuremark recently released Shattered Horizon, a multiplayer-only FPS-Z for just $20 on the PC (digital download only).
We learned that game sales were down last month, however, according to Broadpoint AmTech analyst Ben Schachter, overall game sales are actually way up. This is because the slow sales in the rhythm game genre. It's dragging the industry down while sales of core games remain strong. He also believes that the core games will continue to be an important factor for the industry's growth in 2010.
"We believe that 'core' gamers will drive video game packaged goods growth in 2010 and beyond," said Schachter. "2009 was a horrible year for the video game industry and its investors, but a closer analysis highlights that much of the weakness (since 1Q) was attributable to the Music genre and Nintendo platforms. Core gamer software (which we define as Xbox 360 + PS3, but excluding the Music genre) has actually grown 17% y/y over the past six months in the U.S. according to the NPD Group (while Music was down 52% and Nintendo platforms were down 11%).