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The business of video games is a multi-player game : Essays on governance choices and performance in a two-sided market in the cultural industries

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  • Peters, Frank

Abstract

Resume "The business or video game is a multi-player game" investigates the economic impact of collaboration in a two-sided platform market in the cultural industries. The dissertation attempts to find explanations for success in the cultural industries and (in particular) the consequences of cooperation with the platform provider. This is done by means of a quantitative study of games from the time that distribution took place by means of DVDs: the period 2001-2010. This is the first time that an integrated model for success in the video game industry has been developed. Markets are increasingly becoming dominated by platforms: accommodation is booked via Booking.com, music via Spotify, video via Netflix, information via Google and second-hand products via E-Bay. In the video game industry, it is the console that brings buyers and suppliers together. In such a market structure the behavior of the platform influences the results of the provider of video games and vice versa. The results of this research are therefore interesting not only for video game industry but also for other platform markets in the cultural industries. The cultural industry consists of the industries in which mass-production of cultural goods takes place. The film, music, TV and radio, fashion and game industry are examples. These industries have the following characteristics: - Extreme economies-of-scale: Production of the first copy is very expensive, reproduction is almost free; - An oversupply of creative work: production often takes place as a passion and leisure activity; - Presence of the "nobody knows" principle: Success cannot be predicted in advance, nor can it be explained retrospectively. Products are extremely divided into hits and misses so that only a small part of the offer is profitable. Conclusions: - The success of a game depends on the activities of different actors: the game development studio, the publisher, and the console manufacturer. In that sense, game business is a multi-player game; - Although the "nobody knows" principle is present, there are factors that increase the chances of success: building on success from the past and larger production budgets lead to better games, which in turn sell better. Pre-release marketing (finding market segments where competition is limited and timing of the release) also leads to more successful games. This is more important than post-release marketing. - There are cross-platform effects: games released for multiple platforms also score better on the individual platforms. - Production of games based on success from other sectors (e.g., a game in a movie) is not a successful strategy. - Platforms are often very dominant in the market. Cooperation with a platform operator (through the sale of the studio or the conclusion of exclusive contracts) has a positive result on the revenue of a game, cooperation with an independent publisher does not have this. Platforms are a necessary evil that can be better embraced: cooperation leads to more successful releases. The dissertation enriches management theory in the outlined context. It is concluded that: - Considerations for different forms of cooperation differ: for mergers transaction cost considerations, for exclusive contracts increasing opportunities for the future. - Platform operators have different motives for working with studios than independent publishers. In particular, platform operators mainly want to retain high-quality capabilities, independent publishers are looking for future differentiation options in particular. Samenvatting “The business of video game is a multi-player game” onderzoekt de economische effecten van sa-menwerking in een tweezijdige platformmarkt in de cultural industries. In het proefschrift wordt getracht verklaringen te vinden voor succes in de culturele industrie en (met name) de gevolgen van samenwerking met de platformaanbieder in kaart gebracht. Dit gebeurt door middel van een kwanti-tatief onderzoek van games uit de tijd dat distributie nog plaats vond door middel van DVD’s: de periode 2001-2010. Dit is de eerste keer dat er een integraal model voor succes in de videogame industrie is ontwikkeld. Het economisch verkeer verloopt in toenemende mate via platforms: accommodatie wordt geboekt via Booking.com, muziek via Spotify, video via Netflix, informatie via Google en tweedehands pro-ducten via Marktplaats. In de videogame industrie is het de console die vragers en aanbieders van games bij elkaar brengt. In zo’n marktstructuur beïnvloedt het gedrag van het platform de resultaten van de aanbieder van video games en andersom. Uitkomsten van het onderzoek zijn daarom niet alleen voor video game industrie interessant, maar ook voor andere platformmarkten in de cultural industries. De culturele industrie bestaat uit de bedrijfstakken waarin culturele goederen in massa worden ge-produceerd. De film-, muziek-, TV en radio-, mode- en game industrie zijn voorbeelden. Deze be-drijfstakken hebben de volgende kenmerken: - Zeer sterke economies-of-scale: Productie van het eerste exemplaar is zeer kostbaar, reproductie is bijna gratis; - Een overaanbod van creatief werk: productie vindt vaak plaats als passie en vrijetijdsbesteding; - Aanwezigheid van het “nobody knows”-principe: Succes is niet vooraf te voorspellen, noch achteraf te verklaren. Producten zijn extreem verdeeld in hits en missers, waardoor slechts een klein deel van het aanbod rendabel is. Conclusies: - Het succes van een game is afhankelijk van de activiteiten van verschillende actoren: de game ont-wikkelstudio, de uitgever en de console fabrikant. In die zin is game business een multi-player ga-me; - Hoewel het “nobody knows” principe aanwezig is, zijn er factoren die de kans op succes vergroten: voortbouwen op succes uit het verleden en grotere productiebudgetten leiden tot betere games, die op hun beurt beter verkopen. Pre-release marketing (het opsporen van marktsegmenten waar de concurrentie beperkt is en timing van de release) leidt eveneens tot succesvollere games. Dit is be-langrijker dan post-release marketing. - Er zijn cross-platform effecten: games uitgebracht voor meerdere platforms scoren ook beter op de individuele platforms. - Productie van games gebaseerd op succes uit andere sectoren (bijvoorbeeld een game bij een film) is geen succesvolle strategie. - Platforms zijn vaak zeer dominant in de markt. Samenwerking met een platformexploitant (door verkoop van de studio of het afsluiten van exclusieve contracten) heeft een positief resultaat op de opbrengsten van een game, samenwerken met een onafhankelijke uitgever heeft dit niet. Platforms zijn een noodzakelijk kwaad dat beter omarmt kan worden: samenwerking leidt tot succesvollere releases. Het proefschrift verrijkt de managementtheorie in de geschetste context. Er wordt geconcludeerd dat: - Overwegingen voor verschillende vormen van samenwerking verschillen: voor overnames trans-actiekostenoverwegingen, voor exclusieve contracten het vergroten van mogelijkheden voor de toe-komst. - Platform exploitanten hebben andere motieven om samen te werken met studio’s dan onafhanke-lijke uitgeverijen. Platform exploitanten willen met name kwalitatief hoogwaardige capaciteit aan zich binden, onafhankelijke uitgevers zoeken met name toekomstige differentiatiemogelijkheden.

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  • Peters, Frank, 2018. "The business of video games is a multi-player game : Essays on governance choices and performance in a two-sided market in the cultural industries," Other publications TiSEM 886b3148-4bbb-4ea4-b666-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiutis:886b3148-4bbb-4ea4-b666-0f6959ec999a
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