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Video Game Industry Trends


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Thoughts on the evolution of the video game industry. Please provide feedback, comments, etc...

Video Game Industry Trends

  1. 1. April 9, 2009 | Alex Ferrara | Bessemer Venture Partners Notes on the Video Game Industry
  2. 2. Video Game Industry Themes <ul><li>Large and growing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Digital distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Connected & multiplayer </li></ul><ul><li>Freemium </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. $500 million First Week Sales $239 million First Week Revenue Source: Associated Press Scale of Dark Knight vs. GTA4
  4. 4. Worldwide Gaming is bigger than Music, DVDs, or Box Office Source: Citigroup, NPD, October 2007; ESA 2008 Asia $11.5bn Europe $11.4bn U.S. $10.7bn
  5. 5. $34+ Billion Industry Worldwide Source: Citigroup, Brent Thill $68 Billion of Total Consumer Spend in 2007
  6. 6. Video Game Industry Themes <ul><li>Large and growing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Digital distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Connected & multiplayer </li></ul><ul><li>Free-to-play </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  7. 7. Traditional Video Game Value Chain Publishers Console Vendors Retailers Consumers Spend Value Capture $68 billion $9 billion $25 billion $33 billion Royalties & Licenses Independent Studios
  8. 8. Console Game Publishers Face Challenging Economics Low contribution margin and high fixed costs make “hits” critical to success Revenue from a $50 Console Game Trend Ad agencies and media Overhead, freight, co-op, bad debt, etc… Developer Retailer Retailer Console vendor Media manufacturer Paid To Publisher Marketing $6 (12%) Publisher Operating cost $10 (20%) Publisher Development cost $8 (16%) Publisher Markdown reserve $3 (6%) Consumer Retailer profit $13 (26%) Publisher Publishing license $7 (14%) Publisher Cost of goods $3 (6%) Paid By Purpose Amount
  9. 9. Console Game Publishers Face Challenging Economics Electronic Arts Activision Blizzard <ul><li>Despite strong revenue growth, the profitability of major publishers continues to decline </li></ul><ul><li>Activision has pursued M&A opportunities to grow the bottom line </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blizzard (World of Warcraft - MMOG) <- Not a console games business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Red Octane (publisher of Guitar Hero) </li></ul></ul>Source: Capital IQ
  10. 10. Video Game Value Chain Publishers Console Vendors Retailers Consumers Spend Value Capture $67 billion $9 billion $25 billion $33 billion Long-Term Trend Themes <ul><li>Undergoing shift to online </li></ul><ul><li>Console not profitable, online very profitable </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing costs & complexity of game dev </li></ul><ul><li>Consolidation due to EOS in dev, marketing </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. Broadband penetration 75%+ </li></ul><ul><li>PC & console penetration high </li></ul><ul><li>Proliferation of choice (online, PC, console, portable, mobile) </li></ul><ul><li>Higher quality content </li></ul><ul><li>Free-to-play models popular </li></ul><ul><li>Desire for content that is more Interactive, social, fun </li></ul><ul><li>Consolidation </li></ul><ul><li>Competition from online retail </li></ul><ul><li>Margin pressure from console vendors </li></ul><ul><li>Used game sales remain good business but at risk long term </li></ul>Digital Distribution <ul><li>Currently control distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Razor blade model of low HW margins high licensing fees </li></ul><ul><li>Consoles very price competitive </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term risk from digital distribution </li></ul>
  11. 11. Digital Distribution Publishers Platforms & Aggregators Consumers Both distribution models will continue to exist, however the latter will grow more rapidly particularly in the emerging online-only category <ul><li>Majors: </li></ul><ul><li>Nintendo, EA, Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Sony, Take Two, Sega, THQ, Microsoft, Square Enix, Konami </li></ul><ul><li>Emerging Online-Only: </li></ul><ul><li>Playfish, Zynga, BigFish, Sulake, Jagex, OMGPOP, etc… </li></ul>Facebook Myspace Miniclip AddictingGames RealNetworks …
  12. 12. <ul><li>Consoles provide standards which have historically promoted the growth of the game developer ecosystem </li></ul><ul><li>Some believe that the best games come from developers who have deep platform knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution is moving to the cloud, but will traditional console vendors successfully leverage their advantages in publishing to get there first? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Xbox Live </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PS Cloud </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WiiWare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… Or will the challenges of cannibalization, bureaucracy, and the risks of upsetting the existing retail distribution prove too challenging? </li></ul><ul><li>Startups such as OnLive, GaiKai, and Zeebo will introduce open virtual consoles and have the potential to “unlock” billions of consumer spend </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual consoles pose a potential threat to console vendors but these models faces substantial technical and business challenges </li></ul>How Will Digital Distribution Impact Console Vendors?
  13. 13. <ul><li>Today’s popular console games are typically 720p and 60 fps and require 60ms response time </li></ul><ul><li>Latency, bandwidth, and designing for peak load are key challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Issue #1: Latency & QoS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed of light is a fundamental issue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distance from New York to Palo Alto is 4,828 km </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed of light in vacuum is 300 x 10^6 m/s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed of light in fiber is ~66% of the speed in a vacuum = 200 x 10 ^6 m/s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One-way delay from NY of 4,828 / 200 x 10^6 = 24.14 ms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theoretical round-trip time from NY to CA of 48.28 ms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical ping time (round trip) of [~85] ms or ~[2x] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video encoding would introduce 50 ms of latency for a total of 135 ms (OnLive claims 1 ms!?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer probably has to be within 1000 miles of the game cloud -> implies 3+ data centers in U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Issue #2: Bandwidth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Server-side video encoding creates a tradeoff between either requiring higher bandwidth or higher latency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moore’s law will improve over time, but FIOS would probably be required today </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Issue #3: Peak Load Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hardware expense is substantial due to design for peak load, high-end PC requirements, and low utilization due to #1 above implies investments on the order of several tens of millions of $$ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Issue #4: Moore’s Law will continue to drive requirements upward </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Larger screens, 1080p HD, higher fps, physics engines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenges are surmountable but require FIOS adoption, better video encoding, partnerships with ISPs, and substantial infrastructure investment, not to mention business model </li></ul><ul><li>Consoles aren’t going anywhere soon </li></ul>Virtual Consoles Must Overcome Substantial Technology Challenges
  14. 14. <ul><li>PlayStation 3 has sold 21.3 million units worldwide (December, 2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20 million PlayStation Network (PSN) members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Around 60 downloadable PS3 games on U.S. store ranging in price from $5 - $30 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1.88 PSN accounts per PlayStation 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10 million accounts connect to PSN every month </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cumulative sales of $180 million @ 2/2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Xbox 360 has sold 28 million units life to date </li></ul><ul><ul><li>17 million Xbox Live (XBL) members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Around 196 XBLA games available in NA, ranging in price from free to $20 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>125 million XBLA games downloaded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$1.14 million average gross sales per game (devs keep 50% - 66%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cumulative sales of ~$200 million @ 2/2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wii has sold 45 million units life to date </li></ul><ul><ul><li>73 games currently available on the WiiWare NA store, price $5 - $15 </li></ul></ul>Meanwhile, Penetration of Console Networks is Increasing…
  15. 15. If digital distribution is a big trend, why has PC gaming failed? <ul><li>North American PC game sales and market share have declined despite strong growth in the overall gaming market </li></ul><ul><li>Many publishers no longer develop for the PC despite potential for higher margins </li></ul>Source: Citigroup North American PC Game Sales Annual Sales ($ billion) Share of Overall Market (%)
  16. 16. <ul><li>Lack of a standardized platform for development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. PC Penetration > 80% vs. 50% console, but PC hardware profiles vary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developers must design for a minimum hardware profile, but don’t want to alienate customers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PC customer support can be a nightmare </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Piracy remains a problem </li></ul><ul><li>Console experience is more enriching; better controllers, accessories </li></ul><ul><li>Gamers prefer to play on big-screen TVs </li></ul>If digital distribution is a big trend, why has PC gaming failed? Source: Steampowered, March 2009 Gamer PC Hardware Profile Stats from Users Various Operating Systems in Use including XP, Vista, 32 bit, 64 bit More than 50 different graphics cards in use with varying degrees of performance DirectX 9 & 10
  17. 17. <ul><li>Flash has 500m installs, 98% desktop reach, and may soon ship embedded in TVs </li></ul><ul><li>Flash 10 includes a range of improved performance themes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Visual Performance (hardware acceleration, vector graphics, 3D effects) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rich Media (streaming, XMP data, RTMFP, P2P) </li></ul></ul>Adobe Flash is Ubiquitous and May Be the Key Enabler Flash Player 6 Flash Player 7 Flash Player 8 Flash Player Penetration in Mature Markets 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Dec-01 Mar-02 Jun-02 Sep-02 Dec-02 Mar-03 Jun-03 Sep-03 Dec-03 Mar-04 Jun-04 Sep-04 Dec-04 Mar-05 Jun-05 Sep-05 Dec-05 Mar-06 Jun-06 Sep-06 Dec-06 Mar-07 Jun-07 Sep-07 Dec-07 Flash Player 6 Flash Player 7 Flash Player 8 Flash Player 9 Flash Player 9 Mar-08 Junr-08 Sep-08 Flash Player 10.0 Flash Player 10 Dec-08 Source: Millward Brown: June 2006 – Present, NPD: 2000 - 2005
  18. 18. Starting to see successful flash-based publishers <ul><li>[To come] </li></ul>
  19. 19. Video Game Industry Themes <ul><li>Large and growing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Digital distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Connected & multiplayer </li></ul><ul><li>Freemium </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  20. 20. Consumers Desire Social Gaming Experiences Source: MMOGChart
  21. 21. Next Gen Defined by Connectivity/Community <ul><li>Wii </li></ul><ul><ul><li>76% of users are online gamers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Xbox 360 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% of users are online gamers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>40% have an Xbox Live account (vs. 10% on Xbox 1) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PS3 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% of users are online gamers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>49% of gamers play online at least 1 hour per week </li></ul>Source: NPD, October 2007; ESA 2008
  22. 22. Consumers Desire Social Gaming Experiences Source: Gamer DNA Rock Band and Guitar Hero III share common game design themes, however Rock Band is designed for a more social gaming experience. Do these social elements contribute to increased player activity? Rock Band - Players/Day Guitar Hero III - Players/Day
  23. 23. Case Study: Nintendo DS Source: VGChartz, press releases <ul><li>Nintendo DS is 2X stickier despite comparable number of titles and similar platform maturity </li></ul><ul><li>One of the more profitable platforms for publishers including Ubisoft, Activision </li></ul>
  24. 24. Case Study: Nintendo DS Source: VGChartz, March 2009 <- Weekly Puzzle Downloads via Wifi <- Multiplayer and ghost data sharing <- Virtual pets can play together <- Local multiplayer & capture the flag <- Multiplayer competition DS is the first portable device designed for connected multi-player local games
  25. 25. Publishers Benefit Because Connected Games Reduce Secondary Market Game Sales Source: CapitalIQ <ul><li>Used video games sales represent a billion dollar industry </li></ul><ul><li>GameStop (NYSE: GME) – Largest Games Retailer in the U.S. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>6,200 locations worldwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2008 Revenue of $7 billion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used Game Sales represent 25% of revenues and 48% of gross profit, or approximately $1 billion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multi-player titles are stickier and less likely to be resold </li></ul><ul><li>Reducing supply of secondary market increases publisher revenue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Still potentially good for GME, which sells more new titles </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Video Game Industry Themes <ul><li>Large and growing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Digital distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Connected & multiplayer </li></ul><ul><li>Freemium </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  27. 27. Traditional Retail Pricing Model for Console Games Source: VGChartz
  28. 28. Business Models in Flux <ul><li>Video games are shifting from packaged products to connected, on-demand services </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer behavior online differs substantially from behavior in a retail environment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Psychological differences between buying products vs. services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer payment options online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More difficult to “return” a service than a product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proliferation of free content online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>As the nature of the game delivery model shifts, so does the optimal business model </li></ul>
  29. 29. The Penny Gap & Online Game Business Models <ul><li>The toughest part for many online services is getting users to pay anything at all </li></ul><ul><li>If the cost to acquire a paying customer online is high enough, a free model starts to make sense </li></ul><ul><li>Furthermore, in the case of connected multi-player games, free services are usually necessary in order to build an audience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MMOs and virtual worlds are only fun for a new player if the world is not empty </li></ul></ul>Demand Price Traditional retail economics assume a linear relationship between price and demand… Demand Price Free $0.01 However online the price/demand relationship typically looks more like this Source: Josh Kopelman
  30. 30. Freemium Pricing Source: VGChartz <ul><li>What is Freemium? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Give the games away for free </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attract an audience through word of mouth, SEO/SEM, social networks, affiliate networks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer premium priced value added services </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples of premium value added services: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[To come] </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. More to come…
  32. 32. Video Game Industry Themes <ul><li>Large and growing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Digital distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Connected & multiplayer </li></ul><ul><li>Freemium </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  33. 33. Conclusions <ul><li>[to come] </li></ul>
  34. 34. Conclusions <ul><li>Comments? </li></ul><ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Have an interesting gaming company? </li></ul><ul><li>Contact me – [email_address] </li></ul>