The US Entertainment Industry
According to the data tracker NPD Group, in December 2011, US sales for Video games, consoles and accessories dropped back to the level they were at in the 2005 Christmas period, indicating that this type of entertainment is becoming less popular.
When you take into account the fact that US movie box office revenues also fell last year to the same level they were at in 1995 and sales of toys and many consumer electronic devices such as camcorders, GPS devices and digital cameras fell, you could be forgiven for wondering where the money was going.
I’m sure somewhere there are figures that show that TV viewing statistics were also down.
Where is the Smart Money Going?
You don’t need to look very far to see what people are doing with their money and their time; it’s all around us as we walk down the street, go to work, grab a coffee, eat lunch or go out at the weekends.
In the US, as in most of the world, sales of smartphones and tablets ballooned. It would be hard not to come to the conclusion that people’s habits of how they entertain themselves are changing drastically when you see that mobile app downloads more than doubled whilst the other entertainment outlets just mentioned fared so poorly.
It is estimated that of the increased smartphone app activity, mobile games has seen the biggest surge and this would seem to make sense if we take a quick glance at the iTunes store, for example. Games do dominate and more and more people seem to be downloading them.
The Big Attraction of Mobile Games
The popularity of mobile games is, in some ways, a side-effect of our increasingly mobile lifestyles where we don’t like to stray too far without having our music collection at our side, a camera to capture those special moments and a few games to keep boredom at bay during “down” time.
Having one device in the pocket that does all is so convenient and killing a few minutes of a boring commute on a train or bus with a bit of mindless fun is seen as time well spent, that would otherwise be used for staring out of the window or reading some depressing news in the paper.
With so many free-to-download games available it has opened gaming up to a whole new audience segment; people who never played consoles are suddenly madly tapping away at their screen or twisting with their tablet into all sorts of contorted poses.
The serious console gamers will stick with their consoles– for now; that may change if and when the specs of mobile devices catch up with the demand for complex games with stunning graphics; it is the newcomers to gaming that have so boosted the numbers of game developers frantically trying to code the “next big thing” in mobile gaming. I should know – I work with some of them!
There is little doubt also that smartphones are starting to encroach on portable game console territory – with initial sales of Sony’s new Vita model disappointing in Japan – pointing to the possibility that people no longer see the need of buying a phone and a portable game console when you get a growing selection available for smartphones.
It is going to be an interesting year for mobile games, so strap yourself in and enjoy the ride with the guys at Monkeybin!