Opinion: Why The Gaming Industry Should Be Taken Seriously

Photo credit: Benjamin Nagel on Flickr.

Many retailers and marketers aren’t aware of just how large – and successful – the gaming industry is. Although overtaken by the US, who occupy first place, the UK has the world’s fifth-largest market for gaming, and it helped create open-world, action-adventure hit Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV), which has gone on to become the world’s most successful entertainment product of all time (including film).

While ‘traditional’ boxed games’ sales, like GTAV, sold £998m last year, the digital and online market is catching up – £819m worth was sold in 2013. But, it’s the release of Microsoft’s eighth-generation console, the Xbox One, that’s been the real game-changer – and it’s all thanks to advertising beamed right into our living rooms.

Showing ads on consoles is nothing new – and with 97% of British homes owning a TV, it shouldn’t be. But last year’s £626m splurge on consoles is helping the advent of so-called ‘NUads’ – Natural User-Interface ads – which, thanks to the Xbox One’s motion-sensitive, voice-activated Kinect technology, can engage the watcher, and even reward them for their participation with ‘achievements’ (a long-standing, points-based system that was originally developed to mark gameplay goals). Unilever, Samsung and Toyota have all developed ads for this new platform.

Thankfully, NUads isn’t all the industry has its eyes on. Thanks to video-game related merchandise, books and magazines, plus recent revelations that gaming giant SEGA is to turn some of its best-loved titles into films, it seems there’s no domain that the humble game can’t conquer. And, with the Xbox One’s impressive capabilities – overlaying TV, Skyping, split-screen multitasking, live streaming and even the ability to record and share video clips – the future of gaming is geared towards an internet-ready, multi-entertainment system that brings together the worlds of gaming, google and social media.

So, just what are some retailers and marketers missing out on? A market that rakes in £2bn a year; a UK population with over half interested in gaming, who spend 8 hours a week plugged into their virtual worlds; and a gaming community where 45%, together with this author, are women.

With thanks to the following sources: