The recent Games Connection Developer Conference in Leipzig showed that Europe's importance as an industry hub is increasing, says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian.
The analyst says Europe's game market is now about equal in size to North America's at around $10 billion -- over $15 billion when hardware's included.
Based on this, Sebastian is betting publishers will continue looking to Europe, and he cites THQ and Activision Blizzard as two most likely to plan for "significant growth" in the region.
The analyst also says that, based on his assessment of the titles on show at GC, that just about everything looks to be on track to release on time.
Interestingly, Sebastian says that the head-to-head battle between Activision and Electronic Arts was "prominently on display" at the event, with EA's Rock Band
and Warhammer Online
booths appearing to compete for largest and loudest against Activision's Guitar Hero
and World of Warcraft
After visiting GC, Sebastian agrees with the current prevailing expectation that the industry won't see a new console until 2011 or 2012, and also says digital distribution will proliferate -- without necessarily gaining market share.
"One of the prevalent themes at GC was the emergence of the Internet as a distribution platform for video games," says Sebastian. "While an increasing number of titles will be offered simultaneously through online and traditional retail channels (e.g., Spore, The Sims 3, Socom
), we believe digital downloads are likely to remain a small part of the overall software market for the next several years."