Today marked the opening of the 2008 MI6 video game marketing conference in San Francisco, and the conference's opening remarks concentrated on improving the global reach of the video game industry -- including emulating the movie industry's move toward global launches.
The opening remarks began with EA Sports president Peter Moore, who remarked upon the fact that people are playing games now who never would have five years ago -- and the fact that "Madison Avenue is getting jealous."
Jonathan Simpson-Bint, president of video game periodical publisher Future U.S., introduced the topic of global game launches. "We have a great opportunity in this day and age," he remarked, to launch games globally, simultaneously -- suggesting that it could cut down on piracy if European gamers were no longer faced with delays and forced to seek alternatives to legitimate purchases.
Simpson-Bint used the film industry as an example, showing how, although the original 1977 Star Wars film took 18 months to make it to all international territories, Episode I only took six months in 1999, and Spider-Man 3 a mere three days in 2007.
Mike Benson, ABC Networks executive vice president of entertainment, discussed how American pop culture continues to proliferate globally and increase its market share; entertainment properties are now developed with an eye towards global distribution. Sometimes this occurs through creating new local versions, rather than direct exports of the existing American programs and films.
According to Benson, some marketing must be orchestrated locally, tailored to the audiences in those territories. Using the example of Desperate Housewives' UK marketing, Benson mentioned that "They'll market the show in maybe a different way than the show was intended to be marketed. Sometimes they may be right, sometimes it's just a matter of maybe a creative difference."
Will Kassoy, Activision VP of global brand management, took to the stage and remarked how the industry saw, in 2007, a level of growth that had not been seen since 1999. Making examples of the top 10 games in 2007, and comparing them to games from 2000, he suggested that "Our category is going global," also mentioning that European sales are eclipsing those in the U.S.
Kassoy noted that the Wii is a true global platform. The DS is also particularly successful in Europe, with Kassoy remarking that the DS is the most successful handheld the traditionally portable-resistant territory has ever seen. The PC is also strong in Europe; MMOs are also a global game category, according to Kassoy.
Kassoy also talked about Call of Duty 4
's global success, discussing how partnering with Yahoo for the game's PC demo was so successful that the exclusivity had to be cut short when Yahoo's service crumbled under demand for downloads, and how events held in the U.S. and Europe for the game's community contributed to buzz around the multi-million seller.
Overall, the introductory session, if wide-ranging, gave an enthusiastic and well-intentioned look at the state of game and media marketing in 2008.