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Industry Cannibalism

September 25, 2008

So it has finally come to this. I am finally posting on NPD numbers. For those that do not know what NPD is, it stands for the National Product Diary. The NPD group is a global market research company that basically is a retail sales traffic service. So, to begin this post let me report the PC sale NPD numbers.

1. Spore
2. Spore Galactic Edition
3. The Sims 2 Apartment Life
4. Spore Creature Creator
5. WoW: Battle Chest
6. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe
7. World of Warcraft
8. WoW: The Burning Crusade
9. Warcraft III Battle Chest
10. Crysis

I have repeatedly heard the claim that Maxis/EA’s Sims series and, hopefully for a company standpoint, the Spore series as well has World of Warcraft have cannibalized the PC market. These franchises have such a firm grip over PC sales and PC players that is difficult for any developer to make any enroachments into PC gaming. This, along with the ever pervasive issue of piracy is “killing” PC gaming.

Now, before we even touch on the factor that the PC market is a haven for digitial distribution and question the accuracy of these sales charts, I have an interesting post from the Kotaku forum from user mva5580. Here are the NPD numbers for consoles.

1. Wii Sports
2. Wii Fit
3. Mercenaries 2 (360)
4. Wii Play
5. NHL 09 (360)
6. Mario Kart Wii
7. Madden 09 (360)
8. Spore Creatures
9. NHL 09 (PS3)
10. Mercenaries 2 (PS3)

So on the flip side one can say that the Wii is cannibalizing the console market. If it were not for Madden and multiple skews of the same game it is clear the Wii games are the dominant product for the market. And currently, we see an outcry from the “hardcore” to the “casual” gamer over the future direction of the gaming industry.

My prognosis, there is no cannibalism occuring as a by-product from these franchises in either the PC or console spectrum of video games. Simply, it is merely changing the landscape of the gamer demographic and increasing the number of gamers for these platforms. The hardcore–and I hate using this term–has not changed their gaming habits. People need to remember that from a design point-of-view WoW is a fairly casual MMO. But it is its addictiveness that makes its community seem hardcore. What we have is an explosion of new gamers that are increasing the number of units and profitability of specific franchises. So while these new avenues of gaming are expanding exponentially, the current or previous landscape for games has not penetrated this demographic. And believe me, eventually all of the so-called hardcore games will return to the top and casual games will reach its platou.

What it all comes down to is capitalism and business. Videogames are just a market that has yet to be saturated. I am sure that the Guitar Hero series will take a similar mantle in the console space just as the many Sims expansion packs inhabit the PC space. Not to mention the huge change digital distribution is creating in acurrately reflecting the PC market and the huge change it will create in the next generation of consoles where digital distribution will very well be the primary purchasing resource to filling your gaming habit. That is not to say that retail will disappear. Business enjoy money won’t give it up no matter where its coming from. But this notion of cannibalization within facets of the industry as certain franchises enroach on gamers is absurb. Gamers have eclectic tastes and as much of an addiction WoW is, with every new MMO that comes up there is always a vocal community willing to back it up. It can be Age of Conan or Warhammer Online. But it is these new gamers that are entering the market that are changing the way games are bought, played, and viewed in the public eye. And I am positive that this new generation of gamers will become just as hardcore in the future. And who knows, they may even pick up a Halo or GTA along with a copy of Animal Crossing one day.

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