The business of video games

Do you remember the Atari 2600?  I remember playing Pitfall and Space Invaders at home with my family.  The video game industry was unstoppable with color graphics and a blazing 1.19 Mhz CPU.

I also remember how gaming companies didn’t understand the market and the needs of consumers in the early 80’s. There were too many platforms on the market for game developers to handle. The market became saturated with low-budget cookie-cutter titles, and we got heavily hyped games like E.T, which failed to deliver quality content.

Today, the video game industry is facing more challenges than it has since the crash of 1983.

High development costs have forced publishers to support only the most risk-adverse titles.  A fragmented platform landscape forces developers to create scalable games that can be easily ported between platforms.  Meanwhile consumer tastes are changing rapidly as more women and older gamers begin to give video games a chance again.  This has led to a flood of low budget games quickly developed to target this new audience, which has only turned these would-be-gamers off from the medium. 

The similarities to 1983 are readily apparent, but one group of students is unwilling to sit by idly.  Business students from MIT, Harvard, Babson and Suffolk have been meeting weekly for the past three years to discuss the challenges the video game industry faces.  In the halls of MIT Sloan’s campus, these students combine their experiences in the video game industry with their coursework.  These meetings have spawned a conference that addresses these challenges head on: The MIT Sloan Business in Gaming Conference. 

Join us on March 10th, 2011 for the 3rd annual MIT Sloan Business in Gaming Conference, featuring speakers from some of the biggest publishers as well as some of the fastest growing start-ups. Bookended by two keynote speakers, the conference will feature eight panels covering all aspects of the business side of the industry.

Tickets are still available at www.mitbig.com.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Bo Young Han is a second-year MBA at MIT Sloan and an organizer of the MIT Sloan Business in Gaming Conference

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