Long before the words “lean startup” crossed anyone’s lips, Atari was leading the charge for what has become one of today’s most popular entrepreneurial philosophies.
A very brilliant presentation on Virtual Worlds from @IzzyNeis — Thank you Izzy… Sorry we didn’t meet while at Engage, and I look forward to doing so sometime in the near future!
The $23 billion toy business – $45 billion if video games and consoles are counted – is expected to grow 1.8 percent this year, after falling 0.5 percent last year, according to IBISWorld Inc.
Gaikai’s business model is to host free-to-play game demos. Publishers that link to these Gaikai demos are charged $.01/minute. If the player purchases the game, the publisher keeps 100% of the revenue. So, the play is to reduce customer acquisition costs for game publishers.
US mass market retail giant Target is set to expand the layout of its electronics and video game departments across stores nationwide.
The new layouts, which began rolling out across the chain in April and are anticipated to be completed by June, are designed to provide additional product diversity and better access to games and information. As part of the reinvention, the video game section is being expanded by 30% and will be organized by platform and game genre. A majority of Target stores will house video game learning centers and trial stations.
The video game learning centers feature a 40-inch high-definition touch screen where guests can read reviews, learn about game features, sort by ESRB ratings, view in-store price and inventory and receive recommendations on best sellers. The trial stations, meanwhile, allow consumers to try out the latest titles before they buy.
Target’s new tack speaks to the growing sales of video game hardware, software and accessories, which generated revenues of close to US$19.66 billion in 2009, according to the NPD Group.
To further complement its product offerings, Target recently announced it is the first brick-and-mortar retailer to bring Amazon’s Kindle to stores. The Kindle is currently available at 104 Target outlets and will be rolling out chain-wide on June 6.
An overview of each consoles demographic appeal:
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that each of the three current-gen home consoles appeals to different sets of people. The Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 are all very different propositions, and the age and gender mix that play them varies greatly. And now, those user patterns have been mapped to give a clear picture of the different consoles’ diverse user bases.
There are many things that can influence our choice of video games console, from the games that are available on it, to brand loyalty, peer pressure, and even clever marketing. As I’ve opined before, I consider the current-gen to offer the most diverse range of consoles for the widest demographic ever seen on home consoles.
Nielsen Media Research tried to prove the point by tracking usage data by age and gender for all three of the home consoles. Over the course of October to December, 2008, console activity in all National TV Panel homes was measured, and the results are interesting if not very predictable.
The Wii, which is by far the bestselling home console of this generation, appeals mainly to males aged between six and 11, and females aged between 25 and 34. Women over the age of 35 use the Wii much more than either the PS3 or Xbox 360. Which would kind of explain how Wii Fit continues to top the all-format charts month after month.
Microsoft Xbox 360
The Xbox 360, currently sitting in a very comfortable second place in terms of sales, appeals mainly to males aged between 12 and 17, and females aged between 25 and 34. This seems like a bizarre mix but the younger age range for boys could explain the level of petty whining and douchebaggery on display over Xbox Live.
The PS3 generally seems to appeal to the older generation, with no young kids anywhere in the mix. This could just be because the Sony machine is so damn expensive that kids are still saving up their pocket money for one. Both males and females saw the largest usage amongst the 18 to 24 age range. This is considered the hardcore range where gamers play more games and for longer than any other age range.
The most telling statistic to emerge from this survey is that the Wii is by far the least used console, despite being installed in the most homes. This confirms a thought I’ve had for a long time now: the Wii is a short-lived novelty only brought out for parties.
In an interesting post called How an Army of Junkies and Kids Enriches Tech Titans, Gawker claims:
In the online gaming industry, the most addicted customers — and the most lucrative — are referred to as “whales.” They spend insane amounts of money buying virtual goods to advance in online games, whether it’s seeds in FarmVille or fake fish tank “pearls” in Fishies. And in many cases they really shouldn’t be spending that money in the first place, because they can’t afford to - they’re junkies.
More interestingly, the post points out that many of these addicts are kids:
Child addicts get roped into spending insane sums, too, which seems very much by design: Zynga offers at least two different ways to buy virtual currency through your cell phone, a perfect payment vehicle for phone-toting kids acting without parents’ permission. Kids without mobile phones can charge virtual currency to their home phone. (Click the image above to see the payment options.)
And Zynga is happy to take junkie kids’ money. After one British 12-year-old spent $1,300 on Farmville by stealing his mom’s credit card, the company refused to reverse the charges. Refused to refund charges for imaginary products that never even existed to begin with.
If we really cut to the chase for why this matters for Unity, it’s because what we’re showing is Unity running in Chrome with no plugin at all. That’s right, there’s no Unity Web Player installed on the machines running Unity content in Chrome. Rather, with Google’s clever technology, we’re running Unity content in Chrome using just default access and no additional installation or user interaction. It’s kind of wild!
Chrome’s market share is already growing like a weed, but it’s innovation like this that will keep driving adoption at a torrid pace. Even cooler still is the fact that all this new technology from Google is open source, so it can readily be adopted by other browsers if they want to. We think they should.
Bing Gordon writes a long post for Tech Crunch called The End of Moore’s Law: A Love Story in which he posits that the early goals of EA, to create video games that rivaled the emotional impact of movies, by focusing on graphics and effects and mechanics missed the boat. Instead, he says, popular games have little to do with these things, but instead have everything to do with the social bonds they enable and strengthen. It’s not about the SFX—it’s about human connection (moderated by these new social gaming platforms).
In the post, he shows EA’s first ad, which asks, “Can a computer make you cry?”
He talks about a defining moment he had in 1999 when his young daughter started crying because her friend killed her Sims mom.
He believes social games now have achieved this:
But while we were looking for movies powered by millions of transistors, we ignored the emotions we were creating in games as a new kind of playground. Instead of creating emotion-laden, but passive stories, we elicited emotional moments off the screen, between friends, in the retelling, in the trash-talking. The emotional moments turned out NOT to have correlation with processing power, visual effects, and 3d graphics. The emotion came from who we played with, not what machine we played on. Games help us create richer photo albums of our lives.
So rather than trying to create stories and characters that “wash over” our audience, rather than trying to prove that a computer can make you cry, let’s create play spaces that help us make more and better friends. We are the characters, the heroes, the actors. And we are making stories together. More friends, not Moore’s Law.