The Digital Entertainment World webinar on “The Business ofGames” on 8 July sounded a cheerful note – this is one sector at least which is thriving. Jon Goldman of Greycroft and Josh Yguado of Jam City offered the perspective of,respectively, investor and developer in this exciting industry. 

At a time when the focus is on re-starting the economy, and finding new jobs to replace those which may be lost forever, perhaps the games industry offers hope for both these objectives.

The speakers expected the video games industry to show 10%growth during 2020 - the Coronavirus has simply accelerated an existing trend.While pandemic restrictions prevent the usual types of social interaction, players are using games as a social platform and many have more time to devote to games. Compared with other forms of entertainment, games which you can enjoy for weeks or months are seen as good value.

In the past even the speakers have felt they had to defend or excuse the time they spent gaming. Like comics in the 1950s, games have been seen as threatening society - but in recent years, with more uptake, games have become mainstream and are now starting to set the cultural agenda. Playing games can be a great family night activity.

The speakers acknowledged that mobile games are still affected by technical limitations such as screen size and the lack of a proper joystick; a mobile gaming session is typically 5-20 minutes, much less than the 30-60 minutes a player may spend on a console game. But the smaller space and touch technology of mobile games in fact favours some types of games such as those involving moving pieces.

The narrative element of games is increasingly important and more complex, and narrative and emotional content contribute to greater player engagement. The bar for keeping players interested and challenged is getting higher. Developers are updating the content of every game every week – and wonder if they should be doing this every day.

Whilst often assumed to be a male-dominated sector of the entertainment industry, in fact the demographic varies with the type of game and the speakers emphasised the importance of women in taking games to the mass market. The speakers agreed that the most valuable assets are not the games, but the connected community of players. Many businesses have in-depth and sustained engagement with their players – and are now looking at what else they can offer them, as games become an every larger part of the overall entertainment industry.

The speakers thought that policy makers and regulators need to understand the industry, and the different types of games, in order to regulate it effectively. The Comics Code Authority and the Motion Picture Association may be useful models for self-regulation and educating the public about the different types of games and what to expect, so that players and others can understand what to expect and ensure the games they play are age- and content-appropriate.

This all emphasises that the mobile games industry may be of interest not only to games developers, publishers and investors, but also to writers, brand owners looking for new opportunities to exploit their intellectual property, and anyone wanting to reach a new and diverse audience.

Please get in touch with your usual Kemp Little contact if you are interested in seeing how the Kemp Little video games team can help you in this sector.