Is the Gaming Industry Finally Bigger than the Film Industry?

video game players stock

We all know that entertainment is big bucks. A lot of money is invested to create media content and a lot is being spent to enjoy said content. In the past the only competition Hollywood had was itself. Today this dynamic has shifted. Video game developers create an easily distributed, fully immersive product, something that Hollywood has never been able to do. And the number shows it. Last year’s highest grossing movie was ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, grossing $333,172,112. ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ was released around the same time, which according to CNBC’s top ten best-selling games of 2014, was 7 on the list, which generated more than $800.000.000 world-wide. It cost the developer, Rockstar Games, $265 million dollars to produce. Although ‘Guardians’ cost $95 million dollars less to produce, it also made about half of what the game did. Should Hollywood be worried?

You get what you pay for

“But Soteris,” you’ll say protesting, “a movie cost around $8 dollars plus a few dollars for snacks, where a game cost around $60”. This is absolutely true, but here’s the thing Mr. McWhinypants, movies are usually around 2 hours long, two divided by eight is four. On the other hand, the average length of a short game is about 15 hours, which divided by sixty five (I’m adding a bit more for snacks) equates to $4.33. That’s just 33 cents more an hour for a movie that you can be part of. If you go to the longer end of the gamut, games can take up to 100 hours to complete. That costs you just 0.60 cents per hour.

Indy studios are actually making people millionaires

For the uninitiated, Indy studios are Independent video game developers. This can consist of a team of thirty or just one guy and a laptop in a dank basement. It really doesn’t have to be a dank basement, it just makes a much better ‘rags to riches’ story. This is possible due to the fact that games can be distributed straight to the consumer via app stores and online game stores. This is not possible for independently produced movies due to how much money is necessary for distribution.

The forecast is over 100 billion dollars

By 2017 economists believe that the gaming industry will surpass $100 billion dollars. This includes console, PC and mobile gaming. Variety and accessibility are also determining factors in this forecast. At the moment, you can game at home, in the office (of course at lunch), during your mass transit commute and while talking to someone annoying. You can technically do that with movies too, but you must admit that the experience is incrementally comprised as the screen gets incrementally smaller.

It’s even affecting other methods of media distribution

At this point, you can pretty much visualize the video game industry as an all-consuming biblical Leviathan, because in the United States more people are gamers than they are Cable TV subscribers. Only theatre goers slightly surpass gaming as an entertainment source. 59% of U.S. citizens are gamers, compared to the 68% that regularly go to the movie theater. 

The money isn’t just in selling, but also producing

The creation of ‘Avatar’ cost $280 million dollars and was considered notoriously expensive at the time. I say at the time because three years later Disney came out with the’ Avengers ‘that cost about $220 million to make. A game called ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’, that I mentioned above, had a budget of 265 million dollars. So games are putting as much money into their development as studios are putting into the production of their films.

Soon there will be a period of time when blockbuster movies will be competing with blockbuster games, and gaming studios will be competing for talent with these movie studios. Already, Kevin Spacey has taken a role in the game ‘Call of Duty Advanced Warfare’.