The New York Times' Seth Schiesel has written an excellent article on the recent shift of gaming from a solitary or online practice to a more social affair, where friends and family gather and play together, and the way these changes have effected the companies that make the games. The social shift was completely necessary to bring gaming to the masses, and the companies that saw that early on saw great benefits, Nintendo's Wii being case in point. Just ask Phil Harrison, outgoing president of Sony's game studios, who has long been frustrated by his Japanese company's failure to change with the industry.
"It's a very interesting and frustrating thing for me to experience because I have been banging the drum about social gaming for a long time," he said. "And our Japanese colleagues said that there is no such thing as social gaming in Japan: 'People do not play games on the same sofa together in each other's homes. It will never happen.' And then out comes the Wii."
Whenever game industry folks bring up the shift to social gaming you can bet your ass the Wii is going come up at some point. Take their successful ad campaign for the Wii, which goes against the grain by showcasing the people playing instead of the games themselves. It's a strategy that even Microsoft has to appreciate - and ape.
That's why I was not especially surprised to walk into a meeting with Mr. Schappert of Microsoft and find the walls covered with posters that looked as if they could have been ripped straight from Nintendo's marketing playbook. Those posters actually conveyed more about Microsoft's attempts to adapt to the new gaming market than almost anything Mr. Schappert could have said.
Yes, Microsoft might be a bit late to the game, along with EA and Sony, but now that everyone is on the same page gaming is only going to get bigger.
As Gaming Turns Social, Industry Shifts Strategies [New York Times]