Games now serious business

By Shepparton News

There are a few product names you don’t usually read about in a regional newspaper — PUBG, Overwatch, Fortnite, Far Cry, Skyrim — yet these gaming titles represent some of the most popular pieces of entertainment enjoyed today.

The list goes on and on. A 300-word column could easily comprise nothing but titles that, if not household yet, are certainly classroom and for many, workplace, names.

But at the risk of leaving out the title of your favourite pixilated pastime we’ll skip to the issue at hand.

Why don’t video games have a greater presence in mainstream media?

Australia’s most popular reality television shows peak at a million or so viewers, less than four per cent of the population.

Yet front page coverage is regularly afforded them on some of the country’s most popular news sites. Free-to-air TV viewing for all Australians is declining, most rapidly among the young.

One in three people under 25 now watch no free-to-air program at all with rates of viewers easing across all ages.

Part of the decline in traditional television watching is attributable to the rapid rise in video-on-demand, championed by (relatively) newcomer juggernauts such as Netflix and YouTube.

But comparing television to television does not tell the whole story of entertainment’s 21st century transformation.

Nor does it acknowledge what is profitable.

Games are the biggest entertainment industry in the world in dollar terms, projected to hit $90billion this year and maintain a steady growth rate of five per cent year-on-year.

Despite the PC and console-centric names listed in the introduction, mobile games constitute the largest percentage of the market, raking in about $60billion last year.

And while most other entertainment industries bemoan revenue lost to the so-called scourge of piracy, game distributors solved the issue decades ago.

‘‘Piracy is a service problem,’’ ex-Microsoft employee Gabe Newell famously declared, before going on to become a multi-billionaire by founding the Steam distribution platform.

Games are very popular.

Games are big business.

And it’s highly likely you will be reading a lot more about games in the future.

Myles Peterson is a journalist at The News.