I have a great dislike for the type of generalization found in the often repeated statement "the game industry is worth more than the movie industry". This is patently not true when you incorporate box office sales, DVD sales, DVD rental and TV broadcast rights into the calculation. I wanted to get at the real facts, so I have used the figures contained in the publicly available annual reports from all the top stock market listed game developers, publishers and hardware manufacturers.
The purpose of the investigation was to determine in what territories the global games companies were getting their revenue. It proved difficult to separate hardware sales from software sales for the main manufacturers, so the figures in the publisher revenue table include hardware sales as well as software. Games revenue was isolated by using the "games" segment revenue information in the annual reports for any company that has diverse electronics and software businesses (e.g. Sony, Microsoft, Vivendi, etc.). Some of the top Japanese companies also have substantial arcade businesses (hardware and facilities), the figures include revenues
from these activities as this revenue was deemed to be "game" revenue.
The main finding was that approximately 37% of all hardware and software sales come from The Americas, 27% from Europe, 27% from Asia/Pacific and the international category makes up the remainder. If we focus on US based game publishers we can see that international revenue ranges from 18% to 53%, with EA coming in with 45% of their revenue from international territories. European and Asia/Pacific publishers tend to perform better in their home territories, international sales range from single figures up to 57% for these publishers.
Small publishers and developers may want to enter international markets but feel that the prospect is a daunting one, however careful planning for localization and the right deal with a committed local distributor will deliver sales that can ensure your game is profitable. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any further information.
The figures used for the publisher revenue table were obtained in March/April 2005 from the most recent annual reports available at that time. An
update with the 2005 figures, more publishers and more detail will be posted
here in June 2005.