Industry of the Damned

Wrote this a couple of years back for (had to cite my source, since clickthecity owns the rights for this article):

From a historical point of view, no analyst, no retailer, no investor, no parent, no politician can deny the influence of videogames in the past quarter of the last century and beyond.

Industry of the DamnedIt has shaped generations for nearly four decades. From the days of Magnavox, Pong, Atari2600 and Coleco, to the videogame industry crash of 1984 and its resurrection during the late 80s, along with the start of Nintendo's dominance with the Family Computer (Famicom as known in Japan) and eventually SNES (Super Nintendo System), to the rise and fall of Sega with the failed Dreamcast system - people witnessed the rise of a giant who took the industry by surprise - Sony and its Playstation back in 1995, and the arrival of Microsoft with its powerful Xbox in 2001.

The videogames industry is currently on the verge of a transition to the next-generation of console gaming: Microsoft's Xbox360, Sony's Playstation3 and Nintendo's Wii (formerly known as Revolution). The events in the past 35 years have brought about an era of gaming and technological advancement never before seen in any market except for the personal computer or PC. It has affected pop culture and spawned an industry currently worth about $37 Billion. It separated itself from the toys market to become an industry on its own competing head to head with the much-praised revenue rich movie industry.

One has to ask - where does the Philippine gaming industry fit in to all these figures? Is there even a market existing within the country's shores? How bout the retail section, are distribution channels for gaming products growing, expanding, raking in millions of pesos? Unfortunately, the Philippines barely has any slice of the ballooning sales and growth figures.

The country has a market of course, and this is in a legal context. Local gaming companies acquire revenues through a niche genre, and indeed a hit to urban gaming lifestyle - Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games a.k.a. MMORPGs. Games such as Ragnarok, Rose Online, World of Warcraft, and Everquest just to name a few.

Industry of the DamnedHowever, no matter how much revenue these companies do make in their respective business fiscal year, the figures would surely be meager comparisons to the collective sales figures of shops and stores retailing pirated/copied games. The latter would be enough to shun any gaming publisher and development house from investing and setting up studios in the country. The Philippines is plagued with piracy and weak Intellectual Property laws, and the State itself is pretty reluctant in aggressively pursuing such activities by syndicates and local thieves.

Retail section and distribution are simply non-existent. Software gameshops such as Data Blitz import their videogame library from the US and every other shop happily provides shelf space for copied games due to the fact that consumers do prefer the much cheaper alternative.

But what's keeping the average Philippine gamer from purchasing original games since quality is indeed assured and gaming experience optimized? Simple. Videogames software are too expensive. Prices of such games can reach near the 4 thousand mark - an amount the average wage earner would rather spend on more relevant things in life.

Thus, two questions lurk in the midst of Filipino gaming consumers: can Pinoy gamers afford this hobby? Can videogames reach critical mass and create a multi billion-peso market?

Far from it. As long as piracy runs rampant, disposable income for the middle class remains stagnant and little or no growth year after year, as long as the government maintains their apathetic stance regarding Intellectual Property, the conception of a robust and rich videogames industry, having the probability to spur up the economy and create thousands of high paying jobs, can never become reality and will remain so till issues mentioned have been addressed and dealt with.

Sad indeed when a third world nation strives to attain a certain level of luxury western countries take advantage of only to realize in the end that such a luxury is simply economically unfeasible.