Can video games outsell Hollywood? With phenomenal pre-order sales, Call of Duty: Black Ops II looks set to break records and win new fans. Maybe it´s time to sit up and take note of this rapidly growing industry?
We've all heard about big cinema releases and the large amount of money spent on movies on a regular basis. We've had big hitters already this year with both The Avengers and James Bond 007: Skyfall raking in the cash, but now video games are taking a slice of the pie, with one game in particular set to break records this month...
Game fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating the arrival of November 13th when Black Ops II, the latest installment in Activision's Call of Duty franchise, will be released to shake up the sales charts. Last year's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 earned $400 million dollars on its first day, breaking the opening day record for the whole entertainment industry, previously set by Call of Duty: Call of Duty Black Ops one year earlier, which made $360 million (in turn breaking Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's record).
A quick look at the list of people involved in the creation of Black Ops II gives an idea of just how vast this project is. Movie script writer, David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises, Dark City), has been asked to prepare the story, while the main theme will be composed by the Oscar-winning, industrial music legend, Trent Reznor. This will mark the return of the Nine Inch Nails founder to the gaming industry, 16 years after he prepared music and sound effects for id Software's iconic shooter Quake.
2007's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare revolutionized the first person shooter (FPS) genre by shifting the setting from the commonplace World War II background (which the franchise helped popularize) to the contemporary war on terror environment. It also introduced a dynamic, Hollywood style plot, immersing gamers in the story. The sequels to Modern Warfare did not stray too far from this format but Black Ops II's developer, Treyarch, is keeping the franchise fresh by setting the game in the near future. Time will tell if sci-fi drones and mechs can generate enough interest to keep the series positioned at the top the market, but one thing is certain - with well over a million pre-order copies in the USA, this game will be another success story for Activision.
The accomplishments of the series offer proof of how big the gaming industry has grown in recent years. Digital distribution, mobile gaming, casual games and the emergence of social networking services have significantly widened the market. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the age of gamers is rising, with 34 years of age being the average in the U.S. The research also showed that, contrary to popular belief, gaming is not an exclusively male domain - two out of five North American gamers are female.
With the Call of Duty franchise setting new records in day-one sales for the entertainment market, the whole industry is starting to challenge Hollywood. According to The Telegraph, in 2009 alone British gamers spent £500 million more on video games than on cinema tickets and DVDs combined.
As the world reels from the current recession, one may be forgiven for assuming the video games industry would suffer as a result, but the industry appears to be growing despite this. In 2011, technology research company Gartner Inc. projected that the market will be worth $115 billion by 2015. The success of the video games industry can also be seen in other media. Once viewed as a minority pastime, gaming has been picked up by the TV and film industry as a way to relate to audiences, with talk show hosts referencing games and film producers clamoring to base new projects on popular games - take the Tomb Raider films, for example.
The global aspect of big game releases, as well as simplified distribution through digital content delivery means that new games are available in more countries than ever. As a result, an increasing number of games are localized into languages and markets that were previously ignored including Hebrew, Turkish and Arabic. In this competitive market, thorough localization is immensely important. The shift in the market also brings additional challenges to game translation. Today, the localization process does not end with a game release. With subsequent patches, patch notes and announcements on official game websites, there is a need for constant support from localization teams. In the case of Black Ops II one can also expect Downloadable Content (DLC), which keeps a title fresh and innovative by continuing to interest gamers with new challenges, game modes or maps. This content can be hugely beneficial in garnering further revenue but, of course, also needs to be translated. The Call of Duty: Elite services, which give players access to statistics and additional content while offering social features, create further challenges for the localization industry, as well as that of community management. Continuing to keep players interested through these measures ensures longevity in an industry which moves at high speed, producing big titles across various formats. These features are increasingly indispensable to game releases and have become 'the standard' expected from the fans of a franchise. Community management and multilingual localization within tight deadlines require a huge investment in time and personnel who are experienced players and language experts. Be prepared for the ongoing rise of Black Ops II and the video games industry battalion. To find out more information about a range of services including those mentioned above, visit MO Group International today.