Buckle up, entertainment world. Games are about to take over.

The rise of video games explained.

The eagle has landed … :-) · Photo by author.

When it comes to video games, I’m a non-player. However, last week, fortune and business wanted me to go to Gamescom 2017, “the leading European trade fair for digital gaming culture” in Cologne.

And, on location in Deutz, I learned a few sweeping lessons about how underperforming all other entertainment industries behave, compared to their relatives running the games floor.

Here is why I think the rest of the entertainment world currently acts like a sleepy lame duck compared to the games industry:

*) Know how to lure them in
Let’s be honest. If someone had told you 20 years ago, that at a point in the future, an industry mostly making money from products people use when at home alone, would create events that attract hundreds of thousands of people to stand in line to experience a couple of preview minutes for the next instalment of exactly such product, you probably would have called this person crazy.

Well — the game industry managed to exactly do that!

They make consumers from social groups that otherwise rather prefer to stay indoors at home travel from far and wide; these fans pay good money for tickets (audience tickets for Gamescom 2017 got sold out; this year: again!), accommodations, transportation etc. They wait in line for hours under noisy and uncomfy circumstances. Just to do what they otherwise do at home anyway: Sit behind a screen and play.

Because they are offered to play something a while before most of their peers. Which brings me to another “Woaah”-effect for me:

“Waiting time from here: 90 mins” · Photo by author.

*) Just teasers
Unlike the music- or film or TV-industry, the games folks found a way to not even present the full product. On the contrary: The bigger the name of the game, and with that the bigger the marketing budget, the more restricted they keep the access to their updates.

For my friends in the film / tv / music industry: What kind of event or festival do we have to create, to be able to just show trailers, snippets or sizzle pieces to audiences while they still give us money to get thru the door of sold out houses?

*) They know how to orchestrate

Once (= 2005), at the Festival de Cannes (= biggest film festival in the world), Revenge of the Sith got screened out of competition. And all the festival got (allowed itself?) was a bunch of Storm Troopers on the stairs of the Palais Du Festival while the invited guests proceeded into the cinema and while the screening occurred* No more Star Wars in Southern France every since so far.

These days, at Gamescom in Cologne, Star Wars Battlefront II gets promoted. The organisers get an exact 1:1 sized replica of the X-Wing to hang over peoples head AND a fairly sized TIE Fighter for the other side of the hangar-like dimensioned exhibition stand (don’t call it a booth). Galore on top: Storm Troopers for photo ops down on the ground.

All this while right across the hall, Need For Speed enters a new chapter. With oversized screens for live gaming and trailers, with an arch across our heads connecting a real BMW M5 with a Supercharged Corvette (At least I think it was a Corvette). By comparison, any pictures I remember from the gala screenings around the opening of Fast & Furious F8 in early 2017 looked like** a rather old joke… (One can only imagine what kind of fireworks the games industry would light up if they had such an abundant access to A-Lister like the film industry does have simply from employing them.)

Not to mention both games — like all the others presented across the fairgrounds — can be tested on hundreds of screens embedded into the wonderland-carnival-style event spaces build with extraordinary sense for detail and visual impact. Yes! Size matters! And sound. And being able to experience things.

Need for speed. · Photo by author.

*) Democracy now

The gaming industry has arrived fully in the digital world. From A to Z the spaces open to the public at this trade fair is all about engaging people to share. And while especially the events of the TV- and Film-Industry still try to hide the best attractions (e.g. celebrities, special screenings) from their customers behind closed doors called “Gala Premiere” or “VIP Event” to just release information about it afterwards over time in tiny, well controlled bits and pieces, the games industry offers their product to basically everyone who shows up on time to buy a ticket.

This way they generate millions of posts and shares online about their products online, in the social networks.

And engage their customers in open discussions about their products, updates and innovations.

Meanwhile, in the film industry. Mostly closed doors as much as possible. And least once you enter the mainstream realm.

E.g.: The right of first look rather goes to pro critics. And engagement by audiences is preferred in certain windows (according to the films release schedule, which is preferably still happening in certain windows as well. Btw. this is not necessarily the same as a Street Date, as certain platforms claim certain rights for certain releases leading to rather many windows of release for one and the same asset.)

And when it comes to “unauthorised recordings” there isn’t much differentiation from the industry between moving pictures and stills — despite this should be known better by default given the nature of the business.

Indeed, even in 2017, film- and TV-festivals do a lot to discourage audiences to yet think about their cell phones once the program starts. In fact, the Festival de Cannes for example runs a full blown kind-of-crusade against its guests since a while now to NOT take any selfies at all while walking the red carpet or being in the festival screenings.

Pride of rank there, more open doors here: While GamesCom, like many other gatherings of people in or interested in the entertainment industry also maintains a lot of space accessible for business people only, the organisers managed at the same time to create this very impressive space for paying customers right next door. Great move to not only talk about business but to do business at the same time.

I’m not familiar with how all this developed for the games industry from a historical POV. But there is no question that Gamescom has a lot of good answers to questions people ask themselves elsewhere in the entertainment industry, when they talk about how to better engage audiences in the digital age.

*) Hardware integration

Another gentle reminder I got while being in Cologne: the more of a gamer you are, the better you want your machine to be. On screen high speed car chases or intense battles require a lot of machine power to non-stop render vast packages of data, sound has to be brilliant. A lot of such processor power then requires a lot of cooling. In other words: Customisation needed.

Gamescom honours those interested in customised gamer hardware with two entire floors with goodies attractive for anyone in the market for faster and cooler and flashier machines.

Makes me wonder why I never did see a decent exhibition of home cinema equipment at a film- or TV- festival. Or a good show of music players at a concert. Yes, this might be slightly different. But then: Hey! Find a way to lure them in! Orchestrate! And its not, that some cool camera tech would be shown anywhere at Berlinale or Cannes either as a side gig of any kind. Despite the fact every film- or TV-festival attracts a lot of behind the camera crew members as well.

Faster. Cooler. Better. Great customs for great games. · Photo by author.

*) Jungle makes me wonder

I have to admit, it has been a while since I went to a “Games Only” trade fair. Sure, given the nature of my business, I know people in that industry, I’m no stranger to licensing deals, I follow most major moves of the games industry. I know how big the numbers have become, how big of an opening the release of a major game can be these days.

But since I did walk the fairgrounds in Cologne, I understand much much better how clever this part of the entertainment industry is in pushing for its own success.

Therefore, I wonder why the other parts of the entertainment world seem to ignore their success formula so far.

Or is there really no sense at all in exhibiting some cool Amps and guitars at the average summerly music festival? Really? All that makes sense there is selling greasy food and T-Shirts?

And is there really no sense in catering more to those who actually love films and pay good money for them? Like all these “Parties” that get organised for the night right after the big budget films celebrate their red carpet gala screenings; shouldn’t there be tickets sold to anyone willing to pay the price? (Rather then the common practice to invite a mix of friends and partners and friends of friends of friends very often rather interested in having a good time then in the film / TV-show / artist itself. Nothing wrong with these people looking for a good time; but business wise, this is not the best case scenario I think.)

It can be so simple — right? :-) · Photo by author.

*) Is it just my imagination that fools me here …?

No, I bet I’m right. Because just by watching a good film trailer like this one here for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 again, I can totally see how this could have inspired a super-cool Pop-Up-event space to introduce people to the world of this film. Such space could have been established as a temporary attraction right next door to film festivals like Berlin and Cannes. And I’m pretty sure, people would have waited in long lines to pay money to get in. And it would not even have been just cool; it could have created a source of revenue before the film got released.

From the dark side … · Photo by author.

So for all this, the day after Gamescom, I am still a non-gamer. But I became a devoted follower of the ways this industry moves to promote their content and creations.

* I’m aware, the Star Wars franchise went thru a couple of changes since then. And Bob Iger is not George Lucas. But still …
** Right in the begin of the YouTube clip there is a wide shot showing how many people where along the red carpet. People en masse looks different imho.



https://entertainment-venture-capital.li Analyst. Strategist. Entrepreneur. Visualist. Director. Film. Tech. On Digital transformations. Now. The Future

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Sascha Seifert

https://entertainment-venture-capital.li Analyst. Strategist. Entrepreneur. Visualist. Director. Film. Tech. On Digital transformations. Now. The Future