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Software Exclusivity and the Scope of Indirect Network Effects in the U.S. Home Video Game Market

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Abstract

This paper investigates the scope of indirect network effects in the home video game industry. We argue that the increasing prevalence of non-exclusive software gives rise to indirect network effects that exist between users of competing and incompatible hardware platforms. This is because software non-exclusivity, like hardware compatibility, allows a software firm to sell to a market broader than a single platform’s installed base, leading to a dependence of any particular platform’s software on all firms’ installed bases. We look for evidence of these market-wide network effects by estimating a model of hardware demand and software supply. Our software supply equation allows the supply of games for a particular platform to depend not only on the installed base of that platform, but also on the installed base of competing platforms. Our results indicate the presence of both a platform-specific network effect and – in recent years – a cross-platform (or generation-wide) network effect. Our finding that the scope of indirect network effects in this industry has widened suggests one reason that this market, which is often cited as a canonical example of one with strong indirect network effects, is no longer dominated by a single platform.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth S. Corts & Mara Lederman, 2007. "Software Exclusivity and the Scope of Indirect Network Effects in the U.S. Home Video Game Market," Working Papers 07-43, NET Institute, revised Nov 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0743
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    Keywords

    network effects; software exclusivity; video games;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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