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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Game Industry Bigger Than Hollywood 503

Posted by michael
from the been-true-for-a-while dept.
Ant writes "This SF Gate story says stacks of new releases for hungry video game enthusiasts mean it's boom time for an industry now even bigger than Hollywood. The $10 billion video game industry, which generates more revenue than Hollywood, has never released so many highly anticipated blockbuster titles in a single season. It started in August with the game title Doom 3, followed by The Sims 2 in September, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in October, then Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Half-Life 2 last month. In November, sales of video games rose to $849 million, an 11 percent increase from the same month last year and up 77 percent from October, according to the industry research firm NPD Funworld. The industry set a milestone last month when Microsoft's Halo 2 -- a sequel to a futuristic game with an elaborate plot that pits humans against invading aliens -- surpassed Hollywood's opening-weekend movie box office record in just one day of sales."
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Game Industry Bigger Than Hollywood

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  • Apples and Oranges (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:30PM (#11134204)
    People don't buy movie tickets months in advance for an opening weekend, so that's really not a fair comparison. This also doesn't take into account Hollywood's DVD sales which are quite impressive.
    • People don't buy movie tickets months in advance for an opening weekend
      "Normal" people don't buy the video games that way either.
      However the more Fanatical bought tickets weeks ahead for movies like Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and the Star Wars Prequels.
    • well.. they buy the tickets in advance - but there's only so much room in the opening weekend.

    • by loid_void (740416) *
      I think if we threw in the fact that so many movies are looking like video games then the comparison might be apples to apples and the scales would most definitely tip in favor of the gaming industry. Hollywood is chasing the gaming industry, it sees the numbers; Matrix looked like a game, and how many movies spin off games and the games sell more than the movie?
    • Since the article doesn't say, are we to assume that this includes DVD sales, rentals, and box office income? I think Hollywood makes more than that but then again I could be wrong. Of course, declared income and actual income are two entirely different things.
  • Bleh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:30PM (#11134206) Homepage
    I know I speak for many here when I say that while I'm glad that the creators of my favorite games are making money, I'm dying inside when I think of what this ultimately means for the future of the games industry.

    • Agreed. Games are already going the way of television, rife with horribly intrusive advertising combined with zero departure from a few formulaic moneymakers. I'm worried that the only real innovation we'll see in the future will be from niche game shops, shareware developers, and open source projects. Most of that will be for desktop computers, since console games have already been usurped by mass media. [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Bleh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lisandro (799651) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @11:53PM (#11134698)
      Mod parent up, please.

      The problem is that when a new entertainment market starts creating serious money it becomes bastardized. Happened to music, happened to TV, happened to movies and rest assured, it will happen to games.

      Hell, you could argue that it has already happened. A sign? All of the games in the list are sequels; which almost guarantees a base of sales. Some of them are good, some of them aren't, but there's hardly anything new or fresh offered in games nowadays; since seen genres with newer graphics are easy to sell we still see FPS, MMORPGs, GTA (which WAS fun, but i don't want to play the same game for the third time), sport simulations and so. Publishers simply go for the quick buck. I died a bit when Lucasarts canned the sequels for Sam & Max and Full Throttle to concentrate on Star Wars licences.

      The only innovative thing i've seen from a major games publisher was Nintendo with it's DS; i haven't tried one yet but it looks good on paper and the touch screen and onboard WiFi are potentially great gaming aids. That could be a gateway to some interesting games, which knowing Nintendo, won't be too far away.
      • Re:Bleh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MilenCent (219397) <johnwh.gmail@com> on Monday December 20, 2004 @05:29AM (#11135658) Homepage
        Hell, you could argue that it has already happened. A sign? All of the games in the list are sequels; which almost guarantees a base of sales. Some of them are good, some of them aren't, but there's hardly anything new or fresh offered in games nowadays; since seen genres with newer graphics are easy to sell we still see FPS, MMORPGs, GTA (which WAS fun, but i don't want to play the same game for the third time), sport simulations and so. Publishers simply go for the quick buck.

        Well some of us have been saying this for years. If the game industry were, overall, as creative as they were back in the golden age, you can be there'd be a lot fewer Nintendo fanatics, myself included, these days.

        But even my admiration for Nintendo has limits. Do you know what the most original company ever to produce video games was? The (in my opinion) answer may not be what you expect.

        It was Atari Games, an entity that, in my mind, encompasses their early arcade output pre-split-up, and their later, post-split arcade games. So many of their hits were created out of whole braincloth, because there was absolutely nothing like them before. Atari was the most original not just because they were first, but because even as late as the early 90s they were still making incredibly different, fun games. Midway Arcade Treasures (1) has a good handful of them, including Rampart, which I've already bored far too many people discussing, some of them here.

        But we can all see where that got them. They made Toobin', KLAX, Gauntlet, Marble Madness and (whimper!) Rampart, but gamers, more and more, became drawn to things like Street Fighter 2, a game that was admittedly well-designed, but inspired way, way too many sequels and knock-offs. It's not like Nintendo's sequels, where they'll throw out all but the core concepts and design a new game around them (example: Yoshi's Island is a direct sequel to Super Mario World!), but more like the same game, with new characters and modestly different rules.

        Fighting games, depending on who you ask, are what saved or ruined arcades. My money's on "ruined." This is something of a digression, but it's worth noting that the fighting game boom was one of the contributing factors to the atmosphere of genrefication that are both what's enabled video and computer gaming to become big business, and what's sapped so much of the creativity out of the field.
  • All sequels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:30PM (#11134208)
    It started in August with the game title Doom 3, followed by The Sims 2 in September, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in October, then Halo 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Half-Life 2 last month.
    Every one of these "blockbuster" titles are sequels. Is anyone doing anything new and exciting?
    • Re:All sequels (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thenextpresident (559469) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:33PM (#11134240) Homepage Journal
      Yes. Releasing sequels that are actually as good, or better, than the originals.

      Something Hollywood finds next to impossible.
    • Re:All sequels (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lord_Slepnir (585350)
      World of Warcraft. Sure, you might think of it as just another MMORPG, but already I can see that it's far and away better than any other that I've played (DAoC, FFXI, and AC II ). Blizzard went after a lot of the 'great annoyances' that were present in other MMORPGs, and fixed them.
    • Re:All sequels (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hunterx11 (778171)
      While it's true there's too much sequelism, it's different for video games than it is for films. Doom 3, for example, isn't even a sequel--it's a remake--but even if you hate it, you can't say it's just a rehash of the original Doom in terms of gameplay. I think a lot of it is just people wanting to cash in on established names. Hell, Super Mario Bros. 2 was an existing game they rebranded.
      • I find it hilarious that people are talking down at the gaming industry for doing something that Hollywood cannot do.. release sequels as engaging as the originals.

        Not referring to the parent post in specific, it's just something I've picked up across many gaming forums.

        Dammned if they do, damned if they don't I guess.
    • Re:All sequels (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Khuffie (818093) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:38PM (#11134271) Homepage
      What's wrong with sequels? There's a difference between sequels churned out every year (ala EA), and sequels that really added some new cool things. Doom 2 was released years ago. So was the original Half-Life. Halo 2's been in the making for over 2 years. The original Sims been out for a while. The only games in that list that didn't fundementally change the gameplay were GTA:SA and MP2. In fact, all of those games, sequels or not, were in fact friggin' good games.

      There's a difference between good sequels, and shoddy sequels which were just designed as quick cash machines. The Splinter Cell series and the latest Prince of Persia game are both guilty as charged, and basically any EA sports game.

      • What's wrong with sequels? There's a difference between sequels churned out every year (ala EA), and sequels that really added some new cool things.

        There's nothing wrong with many sequels in terms of quality, but if the publishers are demanding sequels it means that there is less money available to do something different. There are constraints placed on the developers because they are working on a sequel rather than a fresh game. And with so much money being poured into existing franchises, there is l

    • Why is blockbuster in quotes? They *are* blockbuster titles...

      Anyway, video games sequels aren't anything like movie sequels. In almost all cases, video game sequels do better than their originals AND are more fun to play.

      See, when you're playing the original, there's a voice going on in your head and the heads of developers: "Damn, it would be cool if we could do THIS..."

      When it becomes reality, it's released and you're happy. In another 10 years when gaming technology has evolved tenfold, guess what? R
    • Re:All sequels (Score:4, Insightful)

      by timster (32400) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:08AM (#11134760)
      I'm tired of people saying this, because there is a fundamental difference between a movie sequel and a video game "sequel".

      The thing with a movie is that the experience is always the same. You sit, and the movie goes for a while. Innovation in movies has to come in the form of new plot ideas and new characters and so forth. So sequels in movies are not usually very much appreciated because in many ways we have seen the movie already.

      Video games provide a much more diverse range of experiences. "The Sims 2", for instance, will not be "The Sims" again. It could in many ways be a completely different game, and you can bet there will be new things for a player to learn. They could call it something completely different -- the fact that they re-use a well-known brand doesn't mean that they are making the same game again. There's no new plot or characters simply because there wasn't any plot or characters in the first place.

      If you want an example of a Hollywood-style sequel in the video game world, consider the ".hack" series. All four games are basically the same, it's just a somewhat long game that is really expensive.
  • Gaming Industry Rise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fruvous (776606) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:30PM (#11134210)
    Is it that suprising? A video game can offer so much more than an hour and a half movie. Not only that but the "sequal factor" really starts piling up. Look ever single game up there has been a sequal.
    • by datafr0g (831498)
      I'm suprised as not everyone has a game console but anyone can walk into a movie theatre. As for the PC games, very few (reletivly speaking) have a PC capable of playing these games the way they are intended to be played. And for those who do, I would have thought that the prices for games are too high. Still, if they can make this much money at this stage, there must be a huge potential in the years to come. As a side note, I'd be interested to know how much the game industry spent on marketing compar
    • Its really about interaction isnt it? Movies are passive, the theater experience is mixed at best, etc. While I was playing Doom3 and Half Life 2 I would seldomly tell myself "Wow, this is pretty cinematic, its like a movie I'm controlling."

      People like two way media. Look at us, we're posting on a big geeky weblog. Why? That's the question Hollywood can't address with its movies, celebrity star system, over-used CGI, and "safe/non-controversial" movies. I'm sure Joe and Jane Sixpack don't really care, but
  • Ahem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by googleaseerch (682399) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:30PM (#11134212)
    What about UT2004. I'm sorry, that was a blockbuster game too, if anything is.
  • by DroopyStonx (683090) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:32PM (#11134228)
    That's what I thought...
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:32PM (#11134233) Homepage
    The rich, detailed, immersive settings for what used to be entirely passive entertainment can now, with the current technology, be used for interactive entertainment.

    All those wonderful spy-drama, fantasy, and sci-fi worlds that used to be the exclusive domain of movies? Now their realism is being delivered to you in a way that you can actually be in - if you're open to the experience.
    • As usual, Roddenberry got there first ... it's called a "holodeck."
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 quickly pointed this out.

      When you save, the chick who does the saving in the radio screen tries to talk movies with you, she even mentions that, "They're trying to make it so that way you control the guys on screen!"
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joshdick (619079)
    Now if only the industry could receive the recognition it deserves, the recognition the movie, TV and music industries receive.

    There ought to be video game awards much better than those Spike recently gave out.
  • by ricewind (690994) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:33PM (#11134243)
    Somewhere, EA_Spouse is crying.
  • by arashiakari (633150) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:34PM (#11134250) Homepage
    MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft [worldofwarcraft.com] get a hit of cash up front and then involve monthly revenue. Hollywood has nothing like that.

    Most games cost between $30 and $50, no-matter what platform you're buying for. How much is a movie ticket? $8 to $10 for tickets or $20 to $30 for DVDs. How much do games cost to make vs. the revenue they bring in?
  • by Billy the Mountain (225541) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:36PM (#11134260) Journal
    they want their headline back! [mediafamily.org]

    BTM
  • by muntumbomoklik (806936) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:39PM (#11134273)
    the MPAA and RIAA decide to sue game companies, citinglost revenue.
  • Piracy comparisons? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tzarius (688342) <[rtzarius] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:39PM (#11134274) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't it seem odd that an industry that would take more losses from piracy (i.e. a much higher percentage of users that already have the means and ability to pirate the products, and where the individual products are priced higher, providing further incentive for piracy) is making more money than the film industry, which should have a much larger customer base?

    Or is it that the barrier-to-piracy on movies is a lot lower?
  • Think about it ... with movies, there's a certain amount of hype going on. Ever go and see a movie it seems is great, and it was terrible? Ever do the same for a videogame?

    I've known people salivating over the Nintendo DS for a while ... not that I've actually done anything useful like a review, but going to the store and monkey'ing with it, it's nothing special. It's biggest asset is packing exsisting technology into a small package.

    When you have alot of noise and little signal... it tends to draw
  • Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smerity (714804) <smerity@smerity.com> on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:43PM (#11134301) Homepage
    As I heard at the AEAF (Australian Effects and Animation Festival), games sales may be higher, but the rights for Hollywood are much more flexible, for example.

    Mainly, Hollywood can release a movie, get box office, sell the DVD, license the movie to networks, and sell other rights (for a TV show based on it, sequels), while a game sells and if it doesn't sell well, it's dead in the water

    • Yes, well, with Valve's Steam (or a similar technology) that may be changing. We'll see ... but I have the feeling that content distribution for video games is going to see some big changes in the not-too-distant future.
  • so does this mean we can stop paying $50 per game?

    I appreciate the sentiment and all, but $50 is just a tad outrageous.....
  • Doom 3... The Sims 2... Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas... then Halo 2... Metroid Prime 2: Echoes... Half-Life 2

    Right. Only one game that runs on a PS2. THREE pc-only games. Yeah, these are the titles raking in the big money. PS2 -- One Hundred MEEllion units sold. Publishers make their money on the ps2. period.

    And if you notice, both MP2 and Halo2 are first-party titles... how many more units would they move if they released those on ps2? Just imagine.

    It's hard to find real sales numbers, so he

  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl,spam&gmail,com> on Sunday December 19, 2004 @10:55PM (#11134366) Homepage Journal
    The Book Industry garnered $23.4 billion in 2003 [publishers.org] - and that was a flat recession year. When video games pass books in dollar volume, then we will know the end of civilisation is at hand.
  • I read this last year, that games were more popular than movies ($ wise) and couldn't believe it. Does anyone besides me remeber when the death knell of video games was sounded? I think it was 91-92 or something? Honestly, I rem them saying they would just fade away, and I hoped they wouldn't.

    Of course when LAN games spread to internet games...

    PCB#
  • This SF Gate story says stacks of new releases for hungry video game enthusiasts mean it's boom time for an industry now even bigger than Hollywood. The $10 billion video game industry, which generates more revenue than Hollywood [...]

    The video game industry (and probably the computer industry as well) may make more money than the American movie industry, but copyright law is influenced by corporate American movie studios far more than those who make computers or video games. To the extent it is appro

  • Coming Soon, "Game Industry Bigger Than Jesus". Then the backlash.
  • $10 billion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @11:05PM (#11134432)
    Wow.

    I remember the time when the size of the gaming industry hovered around $5-$6 billion, as recently as year 2000. Anyone have a monthly or yearly chart that would show when the jumps occured?
  • This industry is ours. It's profits and technology will become one with our own. It's programmers will be hired and worked into mindless drones. Resistance is Futile. Surrender you IP and prepare to be bought out. Resistance is futile. People will buy our crappy games as long as we continue to pay retailers to promote them. Lower your morals and prepare to watch us take all of the billions that could have been yours. The comglomerate will prevail. Challenge Everything(TM), except our margins.
  • Time well spent (Score:2, Insightful)

    I honestly don't mind spending the money on a game that i can play for sometimes nearly 100 hours or more... (i'm an RPG fanatic) It sure beats paying 10 bucks for a movie that chances are sucks... most hollywood movies these days are putting so much money into FX and advertising, that they are forgetting the fundementals... (story, acting... etc...), something that the video game industry is deffinately kicking hollywood's butt at.... so i don't mind giving them the cash for a far superior form of ent
  • That's because... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RiffRafff (234408) on Sunday December 19, 2004 @11:15PM (#11134485) Homepage
    ...game companies don't sue their customers.

    I would much rather give a game for Christmas than a CD or DVD, knowing that my money is not helping to finance corporate lawsuits against thirteen year-old girls living with her single mom in HUD housing.

  • Hollywood still laughably bases the success of any given movie by its first weekend takings at the box office. But the fact is, due to increased workloads or general apathy, most people wait until a movie has been out for a while before bothering to see it. In many cities even with the theatres running at 100% duty, there just aren't enough hours in the weekend to fit in everybody who wants to watch the latest blockbuster.

    I know my movie-going timetable is not based around movie release schedules, but wh
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:12AM (#11134775) Homepage
    Not even close. Hollywood films alone account for about $63 billion.

    By comparison, IBM has revenues of about $80 billion per year.

  • The Smaller Screen (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:24AM (#11134818) Homepage Journal
    What exactly is this "Hollywood" that Matthew Yi claims is smaller than the $10B "Game Industry" in TFA? Maybe it doesn't include the $14B US ($32B global) record industry: a business run out of LA, mostly, and NYC, even if it's 80% owned in Tokyo/Sony, Berlin/BMG and Paris/Vivendi-Universal. Is it just movies (not TV, either)? The actual scale of "filmed entertainment" revenue (not including music videos, part of the "recorded music" industry) was $75.3B [pwc.com] globally, before the predicted 7.5% growth rate for 2004 (ie. $81B). Porn movies and website subscriptions alone have a global revenue of $8-10B [atimes.com]. Maybe video games are bigger than Hollywood the same way that John Lennon was bigger than Jesus [tripod.com].
  • Ignore This (Score:4, Funny)

    by SJS (1851) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:27AM (#11134832) Homepage Journal
    Arg.

    Ignore this post.

    Moderating. Using pageup/pagedown to move. Didn't realize that this was also changing the settings from something positive (insightful/interesting/funny) to negative (overrated/etc.)

    So, a post. This will, as I understand it, undo those moderations I have made. Oh, well. Better none than a false down. Hope this works.
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:51AM (#11134912) Homepage
    After twenty years of swearing never to play computer games because of the wasted time and frustration (when you lose, of course), I broke down and bought Hitman on sale for $10 at CompUSA.

    And proceeded to waste hours and days of time, just like I knew I would.

    And I never could figure out how to both kill the drug lord in Colombia AND blow up the drug lab.

    So I trashed the game and went back to my old ways.

    Meanwhile, I've seen Blade:Trinity twice and probably would see it a third time - except I'm broke for the next couple weeks.

    Fuck computer games.

  • ahh (Score:3, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday December 20, 2004 @01:01AM (#11134946) Homepage
    The industry set a milestone last month when Microsoft's Halo 2 -- a sequel to a futuristic game with an elaborate plot that pits humans against invading aliens

    Thanks for the explanation, always a good idea to explain obscure references like "Halo".
  • by PenguinOpus (556138) on Monday December 20, 2004 @03:02AM (#11135341)
    Movies gross more than Games... always have, maybe always will. The stupid comparison made here is one that the game industry loves to make when trying to get mindshare... Compare movie box office versus game software/hardware sales.

    If you include DVD/media sales of movies, movies win. If you don't include console hardware sales, movies win.

    The movie industry (worldwide) grosses $180B. US movie industry grosses 63B. Box office only accounts for 26% of revenue.

    reference: http://www.factbook.net/wbglobal_rev.htm [factbook.net]
  • by phorm (591458) on Monday December 20, 2004 @04:40AM (#11135565) Journal
    The lines between the media themselves are blurring. Games become like books with complex interweaving stories, and like movies in terms of realistic graphics or cinematics. Movies became more like games with the popularity of 3d... much of the techniques for 3d rendering can be applies between both - and in the future graphic cards may be able to render realtime that which is currently rendered by farms. MMORPG's can add on content like your weekly episodes or even - blah - sometimes like an online soap opera.

    Seriously, I predict that smart companies in the future will merge the mediums (and hopefully produce some decent product). Think games with believeable characters, cinematic cutscenes/play, studio recorded music and more.

    Inevitably ending in a wave of shit of course, but there are bound to be some real gems that shine through it all.
  • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:00AM (#11135715) Homepage Journal
    Even if the headline is wrong (as many claim), with the influence gaming have on society today why aren't there more people in academia researching this?

    Why aren't there more university courses teaching it?

    One reason why games isn't accepted by the mainstream as culture or art is of course the immaturity of the industry. And I don't mean it hasn't existed long, I am talking about the age of the developers and the attitude of the industry. Again and again polls show that the averge gamer is in fact somewhere between 25 and 30 years old, and there are are a lot more female gamers than people think. However, average age of the people working in the gaming industry is actually much lower (I know several), and the games created and the ways they are sold seem to mostly cater to the segment "early teenage American male".

    And in this segment, violence sells, nude women sells. One of the few things I dislike about Planescape:Torment for instance is the rampant "big tit-itis" in the artwork.

    So anyway, I would like to see more mature games, and not mature as "full of sex". The number one thing for me when buying a game is a well thought out plot with interesting characters. Then it doesn't matter if it is a shooter (Half-Life, Thief3, Deus Ex) or a role-playing game (anything from Bioware/Black Isle basically). These games are no nobel prize winners in literature of course, but still good enough for me.

    I want more good writers in the gaming industry, and less graphics engine geeks. More Warren Specter, Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka, less John Carmack.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:07AM (#11136185) Homepage Journal
    The MPAA announced today that because fewer and fewer people actually watch their shitty movies, they've decided to sue people for doing anything else.

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