Child’s Play? : The Evolution Of Gaming And What It Means For Retail

Photo credit: Miguel Angel Garrido on Flickr

We’ve touched on the importance of gaming before in previous articles. Now we’re thinking bigger: how is the evolution of gaming affecting the retail sphere?

Parents and kids alike are plugged in

According to a Nickelodeon survey of UK families, it’s no longer about the stereotypical ‘nerd’ with five monitors in his bedroom and no girlfriend. Adults who while away their hours socialising (playing) on Facebook’s version of Scrabble, or its runaway success, Farmville, are just as glued to the screen as their kids – in fact, three-quarters of parents enjoy gaming as a family, and that’s partly thanks to the recent influx of hand-helds and mobile devices that has put the onus on family time in the living room.

The result for retail? A merging of the online and offline worlds, where theme park spin-offs and toy tie-ins are created for digital favourites, and toy-maker titans tap into the app market (complete with in-game purchasing). Even better when all these elements are wrapped up in a package deal.

Gaming is taking over the TV

Watching gamers at play is now a popular pastime – whether through live streaming on Amazon-owned site Twitch, or recorded videos posted on YouTube (its most popular channel, dedicated to this very phenomenon, is run by PewDiePie, a 25-year-old Swede whose ‘Let’s Play’ demos have garnered around 9 billion views and 38 million subscribers).

Many developers are looking at ways to incorporate this kind of try-before-you-buy gaming into future titles, but what this may miss out is the narrative element that a personality like PewDiePie could inject. Perhaps the solution is a Sky-type subscription-only TV channel– or one supported by ads – that unravels a new chapter in the game each week.

Kickstarter is placing more responsibility on the consumer

The reinvigorated series of Shenmue 3 – which, as covered in our earlier blog, raised an incredible $6.3m on Kickstarter in a single month – is not the first title to do so. Many games – whether indies, or backed by Sony, as in Shenmue’s case – use crowdfunding for a multitude of reasons: to test the waters for potential interest, to ask potential patrons for their money up-front, and even to offer creative roles based on the funds donated (an interesting tactic, which doesn’t take talent into account).

This, perhaps, makes the biggest impact in the world of gaming – where games are made for the fans, by the fans.