Eight news stories 22.1

  • Will Obama change the game industry? As the most powerful man on earth he is in a position to. But can he be bothered with problems like Putin, Hamas and the recession to deal with? His new administration should have a more liberal attitude towards entertainment media which is good. And they are more likely to be commercial interventionists which may lead to some action to stop the gaming brain drain to Canada. They should be doing all they can to look after the technology companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft that bring in huge global earnings. All in all the US game industry could well benefit from the change.
  • Television is now less than half children’s viewing time in the UK. The internet and games are now more popular. And this decline of television will continue because TV is not interactive, it is not connected and the content is linear. It just cannot compete with more modern media.
  • 95% of all digital music is stolen. The recorded music industry is in terminal decline and there is no way back, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. There is a lesson here for gaming, currently we do DRM by dongle. And that dongle is a console. Just how long will this business model persist? The PC has moved on and the industry has largely given up trying to charge for boxed PC games. PC gaming has largely changed to business models such as advertising, subscriptions and micropayments and as a result has gained considerably in strength.
  • Hirai: “We continue official leadership in this industry”. A very strange thing to say when you are coming third and last by a big margin in this generation of the console war. Maybe he was referring to Sony Home’s massive advantages over Xbox Live.
  • Wii Fit dominates the UK sales chart yet again. Is 2009 going to be the year that 3rd party developers finally “get” the Wii and start to release games that Wii owners actually want? Don’t hold your breath.
  • Job cuts at Mythic, Tiburon, Atomic Planet and Sega. There has been a spate of bad employment news despite the industry booming. Part of this is the normal Darwinian effect of capitalism sorting the weak from the strong. Part is the cyclical mid generation crisis when it is not worth starting some new projects till the next generation platforms come along.
  • Prince of Persia, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet and Tomb Raider: Underworld all fail to make the December NPD top 20. There will be a lot of extremely unhappy executives around after that. It also considerably reduces any room for manoeuvre that EIDOS might have clung onto. Going for Xmas number one is an easy way to get your fingers burnt.
  • Circuit City closes 567 stores and lays off 30,000 staff. The whole concept of retail is changing. If your business model or career depend on high street retail then you need to make some changes, quick.