Virtual places, real money: the role of virtual worlds in the success of video games as cultural products

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Positioning local and global transactions

Presentation Title:

  • Virtual places, real money: the role of virtual worlds in the success of video games as cultural products

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Abstract

    To start with – some significant pieces of data
    On September 25th, 2007 Microsoft and Bungie Studios released Halo 3 and in less than 24 hours the game made more than $170 million dollars, leading Microsoft to proclaim it ‘the biggest entertainment launch in history.’ (‘Halo 3’ 2007) Since that date, Halo 3 has gone on to sell nearly 10 million copies (9.73 million as of June 2009). (‘Worldwide Total Sales’ 2009) In addition, Halo 3 has also been one of the most heavily played online games in history. On May 1, 2009 Bungie announced that four players had participated in Halo 3’s one-billionth match. Over those billion matches more than 9 million players (Wade 2009) had clocked over 2 trillion seconds of playing time, which comes out to more than 64 thousand years. (urk 2009) On another note, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced on October 28th, 2008 that its massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, released in 2004, had exceeded 11 million subscribers for the first time. (‘World of Warcraft’ 2008) Considering that World of Warcraft requires a monthly fee of 15 USD, it is a safe bet that over the course of a year Blizzard Entertainment now earns close to 2 billion USD in revenue from these gamers. In addition to subscription revenue Blizzard has also been able to count on the earnings from the sale of software needed to play the game, of which 14 million copies (as of June 2009) have been sold at approximately $50 USD apiece. (‘Worldwide Total Sales’ 2009) This type of economic success is representative of the worldwide video game industry as a whole, which has seen record-breaking growth over the past five years. Sales of video games and game consoles have nearly doubled since 2002 reaching 41.9 billion USD in 2007, and with continued growth expected sales are forecasted to reach 68.9 billion USD by 2012. (Caron 2008) These staggering numbers are reflective of the reality that video games are an increasingly important part of not only the daily entertainment choices of consumers, but also the global cultural economy as a whole.

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