CARACAS, Monday May 16, 2011 | Update
102nd Anniversary
Videogames -A serious business

Specialized magazines estimate last year world sales at USD 30 billion 40 billion. The videogame business has million followers. Everything began with the PC war staged by, at least, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. If all that was not enough, it has turned into the breeding ground for hackers the scourge of e-games. Hollywood is looking forward to find inspiration in and cultivate this plot of land. As no device can be deprived of the experience, tablets also entered the vast universe

Monday May 16, 2011  09:35 AM

Driving the newest Ferrari model like Fernando Alonso; being the technical director of Spain's soccer teams Real Madrid or Barcelona; mastering a racket as if you were Rafael Nadal, or playing the guitar like Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith leader; all that and some more is permitted by the latest generations of videogames so really that very few people can remain indifferent.

The days of a newborn industry featuring Atari and Intellivision are ancient history. The children of Space Invaders and Pac-Man, the true icons in the videogame business actually form part of prehistory following the innovations.

Nowadays, videogames threaten to replace movies or music -the spearheads in the entertainment sector. While Hollywood became a hunter of bestsellers, it is also true that it is lying in wait of the most interesting novelty in the computer world.

Specialized magazines estimate last year world sales at USD 30 billion - 40 billion.

As reported by the Spanish Association of Entertainment Software Distributors and Editors, in 2010, 10.9 billion Euros were spent in videogames in Europe.

In the United States, based on the numbers released by Newszoo, last year sales amounted to USD 24.7 billion.

Three main reasons have prompted the videogame business: unaffected titles and easy handling of the remote control, the advent of social networks and better Internet connections.

Nintendo's Wii; Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Play 3 prevail in the segment of PCs, whereas Nintendo's DS, in all its versions, is the undisputable king in the area of laptops.

Nintendo shifted the business approach in the last five years. Rather than trying to catch the usual players, Nintendo's widespread Wii managed to attract people previously reluctant to sit down and play in front of a TV set.

Housewives, the elderly and children under seven years old were lured by the original white box and wireless command. In addition, Nintendo powered its bet with titles that delved into novel subjects, never ever present in the shelves of videogames. Yoga, music or exercises placing logic and mathematic challenges superseded the usual games of shooting and "little aliens." Sure enough, the flagship of the Japanese business -Mario Bros and Co- was not neglected at all.

For their part, Sony and Microsoft target an audience looking for games with a great graphic impact and exciting stories. A complex, robust hardware give their Play3 and Xbox 360 machines more processing capacity and better technical quality.

Networks and tablets
Undoubtedly, the videogame sector is heading for social networks, computers without a keyboard and mobile phones.

A recent report of Park Associates estimated that e-games through social networks will yield more than USD 5 billion in earnings. "A slice of the pie that companies are not going to miss," reasoned specialized Spanish journal Meristation.

Estimates in the videogame business put at 250 million the number of users of games supplied by Facebook, My Space, Tuenti and/or related platforms.

The journal highlighted the success of Zynga, a company valued at USD 10 billion and responsible for some of the most followed titles in Facebook, namely Cityville, Mafia and its sequels or the funny Farmville.

Salient features of these videogames include people's interaction, simplicity and low cost, as no peripherals or extra programs are needed to play and have fun for hours.

Enrique Fuentes, the general manager of Teravisiongames, a videogame developer, believes that games in social networks will be more and more sophisticated and they will enable emerging companies to capture new players in a more and more segmented market.

By the same token, José Alberto Gómez, of Gaspgames - a Venezuelan company that, together with Teravisiongames, has been awarded international prizes- noted that the emerging Venezuelan business has the chance of finding a niche in the market of games for mobile phones.

Tablets are another niche on the horizon of the videogame business.

A survey conducted by Google AdMob noted that the owners of a tablet mostly play with their device. As much as 84 percent claimed to have fun with some of the available games.

Tony Bartel, the head of the videogame sale chain GameStop, pointed out in an interview with GamaSutra the potential of tablets and described them as "the next boom in the videogame business." He stressed the potential of games as cheap as less than one Euro. "There is an opportunity," Bartel acknowledged. "High-quality titles will be devised for tablets."

Translated by Conchita Delgado

The end of a cycle

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil." Estampas
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