Games v. Movies: The Numbers

December 28, 2010 -

Update: We mistakenly attributed the post in the story below to David Bordwell. It was actually written by Kristen Thompson. Corrected story below.

Kristin Thompson picks apart the numbers in the November 15 issue of Newsweek, which compares sales of the movie industry with the video game industry. The article appears in "Back Story," the one-page article that comes at the end of each issue. The article, "How Super Is Mario?," puts a brave face on the video game industry. We have heard analysts and research firms say that the video game industry has surpassed movies.

Thompson dissects the numbers in the article and finds that the, while the video game industry is catching up to the movie industry, it still has a long ways to go:

"But in fact the Newsweek analysis just repeats the conventional wisdom it claims to overturn and makes the same old invalid comparison that entertainment-business journalism has been making since video games started making real money. A cursory glance at the pie charts makes it seem as if the gaming industry is not all that far behind films: the games total is $60.6 billion vs. $77.1 billion for movies. But let’s take a glance that isn’t cursory."

However, here is where the truth comes out. If you take hardware and accessory sales out of that impressive number and look solely at software - video games don't come anywhere near the levels that movies are currently at:

"The figure includes the consoles and other equipment people buy in order to play games. But the pie chart of movie-industry income doesn’t include hardware. What would happen if the sales of theater and home projectors, DVD and Blu-ray Players, iTouches, and all the other gadgets used to watch movies were factored into the film-income figures? As we know, there have been a lot of digital theater projectors and 3D systems sold in recent years, not to mention all those portable media players. The games industry would fall farther behind than it already is. (And let’s not forget that most of those gaming consoles also play movies, so an indeterminate part of their income should go into the movies column. Since last January, the Wii even comes with a Netflix connection installed.)"

"Consoles are listed at $18.1 billion and accessories at $6.6. Take them away, and games software brought in $35.9 billion in the period covered (January 1, 2008 to September 30, 2010). There’s nothing to take away from the film pie, since it consists entirely of software rentals and sales. So film still brings in more than twice as much, $35.9 billion vs. $77.1. DVD and Blu-ray sales, at $34.2 billion, make nearly as much as all games."

You can read the rest of the post here. Thanks Gus Mastrapa.

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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