Believe it or not, there were crowds gathered on Friday doing something else besides waiting for an iPad 2. About 60,000 people swarmed Boston for Penny Arcade East, a major convention for video game fans on the East Coast.
The video game sector is often seen as being particularly ripe for consolidation, with some expecting old line media giants such as Time Warner to swoop in and scoop up a publisher to diversify their entertainment rosters.
Much of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.
Sprinkled among the snaking lines of parents at a Toys R Us in New Jersey on Black Friday were diehard gamers. Many had no children to spoil. Nor were they particularly happy to be in the Toys R Us; but with gaming hardware fast selling out across the region, they followed the scent of the deal.
Today is the day that Microsoft fully takes the wraps off of its much-anticipated motion/gesture system “Project Natal” for the Xbox 360 system. Its press conference promises to be one of the most important at this year’s E3 video game industry trade show in Los Angeles. It’s expected to come out in November in time for the holiday season.
Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.
Social gaming startups, which offer free-to-play games on sites like Facebook and MySpace, have been all the rage, scooping up funding from the venture capital community and nabbing executives from traditional gaming outfits. The hoopla seems warranted given the meteoric growth many expect to see in the space over the next few years.
Video game publisher Electronic Arts will report first-quarter earnings after the bell today, amid Wall Street’s hopes of an industry comeback in the second half of the year. June video game sales in the U.S. were pretty dismal, but investors are probably betting on big-name game titles and possible game console price cuts to pump some life back into the slump in the second half of 2009.