Tuesday, June 03, 2008

M-Rated Games (a post long overdue)

Back in March (holy cow- can it have been that long?), I wrote a post about Matt Matthews' excellent analysis of the decline in the number of M-rated games.

About two weeks later, Doug Farmer sent me a link to another article by Matt--this one, a breakdown of game ratings categories by revenue.

There are several interesting data points in Matt's article. First off, he shows that average revenue for an M-rated game actually increased 64% from 2006 to 2007, driven primarily by three titles: Halo 3, Call Of Duty 4, and Assassin's Creed. It makes sense--the lower the number of games, the more a big hit (or several) will skew the average (and the total as well). But it also illustrates that the M-rated market, in terms of revenue, is still potentially very deep.

That average revenue number will probably increase again for 2008, given the colossal numbers that Grand Theft Auto IV has put up. Longer term, though, it will be interesting to see how much of this revenue is generated by sequels as opposed to new ideas. If my theory about publishers generally being unwilling to take a chance on new M-rated games is correct, then each year the percentage of revenue from sequels will grow higher and higher.

Here's another interesting data point: revenue for E-rated games was up by over 50% in 2007, but other ratings categories didn't suffer as a result. Here are the numbers:
E: $1.5B (2006), $2.4B (2007)
E10+: $0.8 (2006), $0.7 (2007)
T: $1.7B (2006), $2.1B (2007)
M: $0.8B (2006), $1.4B (2007)

On the face of it, it certainly doesn't appear that the increase in E-rated games and their revenue has hurt anyone. In spite of dire predictions about the Wii's affect on the software industry, it looks very, very healthy.

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