Digital Comfort Food

achievement unlocked bank billions
With an industry that’s taught the current generation more about Roman numerals than the modern education system ever has, it’s hard to really visualise anything significantly upsetting game sales figures. This is an industry that mirrors the big bang in both the way it exploded into being and the force with which it‘s been expanding ever since. Indeed, features such as Kirsten’s Credit Crunch, Credit Schmunch! post have communicated the fact that it has, on the whole, enjoyed a pretty recession-proof ride. It’s seemed apparent to me for a while now that games are the digital comfort food of society, the indulgence we turn to when feelings of depression set in. After all, what player can’t recall heatedly inserting that copy of [insert name of abominably violent game here] into his or her console’s disc tray and furiously firing at AI-controlled life forms until they have been reduced to a convulsing heap of virtual viscera? And all because that unreliable twa… twit never called when he said he would. We’ve all done it, at least us gamers. It’s a very satisfying way to exorcise negative emotions and one that doesn’t involve being reunited with a not long consumed bucket-load of ice-cream.

The prosperity of the games industry in the face of economic adversity suggests that we may also turn to games when the economic chips are down. After all, pound for play-time, games offer a relatively cost-effective form of entertainment. But recent sales figures suggest that the industry is not as recession-proof as it might have appeared to be. According to a report published by the market research firm NPD Group, industry sales as a whole in the US were down by 23 percent in May this year, dropping to $863.3 million for the month. This makes sales lower than $1 billion for the first time since August 2007. Wii sales fell by more than half to 289,500 and the PlayStation 3 overtook the Wii in sales for the first time ever in Japan in March this year. More significantly, however, May’s software sales have dropped by 17 percent.

Will videogame retail really survive the recession in tact?
Will videogame retail really survive the recession intact?

Now percentages, just like any other form of mathematics have always scared the bejeesus out of me. So I find it even scarier when ones such as these are attached to what is perhaps my favourite industry (I say perhaps because, you know, tie-on rubber novelty boobs and all that). But is a recession-proof industry even a realistic notion? Economists such as Karr Ingham believe not and as’s Rob Fahey explains, this is an industry that has permeated so many others and netted so many people that in some ways, it’s actually increased its chances of being negatively affected by the recession.

So does this mean that more people will be replacing the videogame with the Ben & Jerry’s through these economically dark times? Well, I doubt that’s likely and as PricewaterhouseCoopers happens to agree with me, I’m going to be pretty candid in this opinion right here. The PwC has just this month released its estimates for digital media showing predictions that the US and Canada’s revenue for games, minus hardware sales, will grow at an average rate of 5.8% annually over the next five years. The videogame market is predicted to grow globally at a 7.4% annual rate to $73.5 billion in 2013. Giggity giggity goo!

Despite the relatively small drop in sales, then, it still looks like it’s 1 up for the games industry. It’s entirely possible that the industry will remain one of the favoured forms of entertainment indulgence throughout the economic slump. It even looks likely that it will go on to become one of the digital industries enjoying the most significant upturns. And with companies such as Apple diversifying the choice of digital dishes on offer with its deliciously versatile iPhone, this industry certainly seems the one to watch right now.

Ken implores us to come on into the world of games and, like the obedient little b*tches we are, we comply
Ken implores us to come on into the world of games and, like the obedient little b*tches we are, we comply







6 responses to “Digital Comfort Food”

  1. Michael avatar

    Giggity giggity goo indeed, even if I hate Family Guy.

    Am I missing something with Rob Fahey’s statement? Because if it’s permeated so many other industries, might it not do better because of that rather than be at increased risk from the recession? :

    I wonder if all those figures about reduced sales take secondhand games into account…

    Ken, I ain’t your bitch!

  2. i am gwailu avatar
    i am gwailu

    hmm. this seems to be a bit short celeste.
    am i missing something? reading, reading, picture of game, reading, reading, picture of ken, end. huh?
    sure the games industry is diverse and it’s an amazing industry for constantly reinventing itself and staying at the forefront. nintendo getting the family involved and the lazy people who can convince themselves they’re getting fit and apple with their apps is a point i hadn’t considered (yet use them on my iphone and itouch)…
    i can’t remember my point. oh well.

  3. i am gwailu avatar
    i am gwailu

    if i do remember, i shall let you all know, as i’m sure all of celeste’s readers are curious.
    it won’t be worth the wait though.

  4. Celeste avatar

    @ Michael – yes, the games industry will undoubtedly do better because it is involved in so many areas of digital media, which is partly why estimates are looking so positive. That’s not the only or even primary reason though, I wouldn’t say. BUT, because it has its eggs in so many baskets, it has increased its chances that some of those will be cracked/ stolen by foxes/ have some other egg-related disaster occur to them. It’s not something that many people seem to think will significant affect the industry, but it could likely account for some of the present reductions in sales that I point to in the post. I would have ideally liked to have gotten into this topic a bit more because there is a lot to cover, but it is a blog post, not an article. The main motivation behind it was to bring attention to the NPD Group’s sales figures as well as to the PwC’s estimates released this month. Which leads me nicely onto my next point…

    @ gwailu – what?

  5. James avatar

    Yes indeedy, when the chips are down, the pads come out. Nothing softens the blow of an empty wallet like freezing a splicer where he stands and reducing him to so many shards of epidermal ice. Who needs food when you got plasmids eh?

  6. Lorna avatar

    The industry seems to be weathering the storm a little better than others, though as you say this may be down to the diversity (and versatility) of it’s formats. That and ultimately, it is a hobby that you don’t leave the living room for. No expensive cab fares or restaurants or tickets. Most folk have a back catalogue of games (played or if you are like me…many more unplayed) to see them through, so expenditure is arguably less, making it a more favourable past time. Also I imagine the sales of Pre Owned game sincreasing, helping out shops like Game, though not the publishers.

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