Interactive Digital Software Association president Doug Lowenstein addressed the press attending this week’s
Electronic Entertainment Expo
in Los Angeles. Lowenstein used his time to discuss the continued development of the computer and video game business, and invited the press to walk the show floor and “touch the future of entertainment.”
The game industry, said Lowenstein, is one of the healthier parts of the American economy, posting 15 percent growth rates per year for the last several years — about three times the growth of the personal computer industry, according to some figures. Market research firm IDC suggests that computer and video game sales will reach about $16.9 billion by 2003, with more than one billion of that garnered from on line game revenue, said Lowenstein.
“Even if the actual number is only two-thirds of the IDC estimate, it suggests that game industry software revenue will soon, once and for all, leave the motion picture box office behind for good.”
Lowenstein also said that demographics in the game market have changed radically from the old days, when teenaged male consumers dominated the industry.
“Please, please, can we put that stereotype to rest once and for all,” said Lowenstein.
He quoted figures that show that 70 percent of the most frequent PC gamers are 18 years or older — even the console market, decried by some as a venue for kids, sports a healthy 57 percent majority of gamers older than 18. And perhaps more significantly, 39 percent of the most frequent users of PC games are women.
IDSA predicts a continuing big shift in online game play as well. Lowenstein said that 24 percent of the most frequent gamers play their titles online in 2001, a 5 percent increase over last year. Within five years, said Lowenstein, broadband Internet connections will reach a quarter of all homes in the US.
“This surge in high-speed access bodes well for the future of Internet games as faster connections mean that game designers will be able to deliver richer game experiences to users, and the entire online game experience will itself be more compelling.”
Lowenstein pointed out other trends in the industry he considered important, including the emergence of games on cell phones, which by some estimates may be played by 198 million people in Western Europe and America by 2004. PDAs like the Palm and Visor also represent an important emerging market.
Lowenstein also pointed to important new work being done in education, medicine and military training that use video games to help kids learn, patients recuperate, and soldiers improve their skills.
“The generations between 12-35 have grown up with interactivity; it is as natural to them as radio was to an earlier generation,” said Lowenstein. “We’ve entered an era when interactive entertainment will become dominant, where there will be numerous outlets for people to indulge their innate desire to control and interact with their environments. And video games will be the beneficiary.”