A new report from Game Developer Research presented an interesting trend in the gaming industry. The survey revealed that the mobile side of the industry increased 25% last year in terms of development compared to the prior year's increase of 12%. More than doubling the amount of development taking place on the DS and PSP, roughly 75% of mobile developers are supporting the iPhone and iPod Touch.
At the same time, development for the Wii has dropped off a staggering 30% as studios are tending to embrace established IP's on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
"Like any other medium of entertainment, video game development is subject to change with the ebb and flow of the economy and any hot new trends, and this year’s survey continues to reflect this evolution," said Simon Carless, global brand director of Think Services Game Group. "The full, detailed survey document, with its plethora of raw data and wealth of insight, is an important resource for any industry-watchers looking to navigate the changing seas of the games industry."
[via Industry Gamers]
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."
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.
The first week of the new year isn't even over yet and the industry analysts are already calling the shots. Considering it's their job, I'll let it go. Anyways, projections for the calendar year are predicting an interesting trend. Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian is expecting the PlayStation 3 to see a 10% gain in 2010 while the Xbox 360 and Wii will start to decline in sales. This is contrary to what Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated today when he said the Wii has "recovered from slowdown." Not to mention Nintendo saw a record-breaking month in December. Nevertheless, Sebastian is forecasting a 20% decline in sales for the Wii this year.
"One key takeaway from the holiday period is that there is ample demand for console hardware at reduced price points," the analyst explained. "Not only did Nintendo's Wii benefit from a reacceleration in unit sales at lower price points ($149 in many stores), but PS3 sell-through is improving and the Xbox 360 is maintaining momentum. While not surprising that the Wii disproportionately sold more units in 4Q, as it remains a popular gift item, the recently reported 3+ million units sold in December exceeded our expectations. However, we remain cautious in modeling follow-on Wii sales in 2010.
Last year was a pretty shit year for the industry. I think that's something everyone can agree on. But according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, 2010 will see a rebound in sales, and retailer GameStop is going to feel the benefit.
"We believe that industry sales will rebound in 2010 and that GameStop is well-positioned to reap the rewards," he stated. "In addition to this favorable product mix the company's appeal to hardware gamers will become increasingly important as Wii sales stagnate and Q1's long-awaited slate of games (Army of Two: The 40th Day, BioShock 2, Gran Turismo 5 and Splinter Cell Conviction etc) comes to market."
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."
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%).
Analyst Michael Pachter was wrong, and he knows it. He and other analysts believed that 2009 would be a significantly better year than it turned out to be. However, recent NPD data shows that they were wrong. Dead wrong. As we reported yesterday, the gaming industry took a substantial hit, contracting 7.6% last month alone.
"2009 appears to be an all-out miserable year for both hardware and software sales," said Pachter. "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."