Business’s Byrne: ”Gaming’s Not What It Used To Be”


Last August, media insiders were stunned when MTV announced that it was going to spend half a billion dollars on gaming. At the time, Business Week noted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ June 2007 analysis of global video game industry growth. PWC’s ”Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007-2011” predicted that the video game market would continue to expand at, over the next five years, a compound annual rate of 9.1%. And just yesterday CBS News was all but predicting video gamers would be the next international athletes, with their own endorsement deals (like they already do in South Korea). Clearly, gaming is not just a game anymore for media companies, or any organization serious about future growth.

This week, launched the Business Week Arcade. FishbowlNY asked’s editor John Byrne via email: How did the idea for the BusinessWeek Arcade come about?

John Byrne: ”We wanted to have an overarching theme for the Gaming Special Report. Business is already good at covering the big players in the field — the likes of EA, Nintendo, and Sony, and we wanted to take the opportunity to look at the industry from a different angle. Given the popularity of the Wii and games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, it’s very clear that gaming’s not what it used to be, and some of the most interesting moves are happening at the edges of the industry (another theme we’ve been focused on within our innovation and design channel as a whole). Smaller players may not appear to have an outsize impact, but they are the driving force for innovation right now. Taken together, they can be seen power a lot of growth in the industry and they are certainly promoting a new paradigm of business.

”That’s why we decided to focus our attention on some of these independent players and to look at the forces that are shaping a new environment for gaming as a whole. There are profiles of four very different game makers: area/code brings gaming into the real world, exploiting existing, ubiquitous technology to blend real with virtual; Nabi Studios has created an entire economy around its martial arts game, Toribash, which earns all revenues from selling virtual accoutrements; Preloaded is not a games company at all, but a design agency that applies its scope of experience to creating compelling brand extensions; and Gnosis is blending experience from various gaming genres to try to capitalize on the growing trend of casual gaming, which is expanding to embrace an entirely new demographic of gamers. Note the international scope, too — the four studios are from the U.S., Singapore, the U.K. and Canada; another deliberate decision to reflect the global nature of these shifts.”

FishbowlNY: What goes into putting together a Business Week Special Report?

John Byrne: When putting together a special report, we try to work out how best to use the online medium and to use the various formats we have available to us. Putting together a slideshow of stills of games that these creators had produced frankly wasn’t going to cut it. So our innovation editor, Helen Walters, and our staff expert on gaming, Matt Vella, had a ‘wouldn’t it be cool … ?’ moment, imagining how great it would be to curate an arcade of some of these extraordinary games we’ve been monitoring. It simply made sense. People could read our articles and get a sense of our take and our analysis, and then, if they so chose, they could see the games in action too. Writing about interactivity and game play is one thing; giving a reader/viewer a chance to experience it for themselves is a no-brainer, so we resolved to make our idea a reality.”

FishbowlNY: How has the buzz been thus far for the feature?

John Byrne: The buzz has been great. We were picked up by the leading games blogs and newswires — and mainstream press sources such as Portfolio and — which were pretty much all supportive of the venture. Most gratifyingly, we weren’t just praised for the launch of the feature, but for the smart curation of the Arcade as a whole. There are an awful lot of terrible games out there; given that we were looking at this trend through the design and innovation lens, we were very careful to include only titles that were smart, innovative and well designed. And that elevated the Arcade as a whole and emphasized our point.”

(image via minonline)