Does the video games industry offer anything distinctively European?
At Europe’s biggest video games convention in Leipzig last week, evidence of a distinctive European flavour was largely absent, apart from in karaoke-style titles such as Activision’s Guitar Hero or Sony’s SingStar and sports games.
Music from local bands and singers is a necessity for these titles, and the new World Tour edition of Guitar Hero delivered it in the form of artists such as Germany’s emo-lite Tokio Hotel, Swedish rockers Kent and Spanish 80s classic Radio Futura.
Sony offered a more unusual twist with a Turkish Party edition of SingStar for release in Germany in November, to capitalise on the country’s large Turkish population as well as nostalgic holidaymakers.
In the case of sports games, a title such the next annual revamp of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer is understandably expected to sell better in Europe than the United States.
But outside these two genres, industry executives struggled to pin down differences. Konami’s head of Europe, Kunio Neo, noted that Europeans did not take to games with manga-style graphics as readily as gamers in the company’s Japanese homeland. Konami also said it expected one game in development, Lords of Shadow, to appeal particularly to European sensibilities — early artwork leans heavily on director Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth, which was set in Spain.
Neo’s counterpart at Electronic Arts, Jens Uwe Intat, made similar claims for Mirror’s Edge, which he said had a high-end aesthetic which he hoped would be particularly successful in Europe.
But Intat in general saw little difference between what made a hit game in Europe compared to the United States.
“With the exception of American football all franchises that work in the U.S. work in Europe too — though as in the movie industry you see slightly different top tens,” he told Reuters just before the start of the Leipzig event.
Yet critics can easily point to distinctive traditions of French, Italian and British film alongside Hollywood and Japanese movies, which has no equivalent in video games. Why do you think this is? Does it bother you?