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Old 08-12-2009, 05:02 AM   #1
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Default Adventure game market, sales, stats

Hello everyone!
I am an MBA student, writing my master thesis in form of a business plan for starting up a game company, developing an adventure game, and then selling it.

In school, we were taught that the first order of things is to analyze the the size of market and sales potential. I have been browsing countless adventure game related sites and forums, but nowhere I could find comprehensive information on the actual sales performance of adventure games. The only stats available were from 2003:

http://www.justadventure.com/article...03ret_gam.shtm

http://www.justadventure.com/article...anFeb2004.shtm

Those numbers are great, but they are somewhat outdated, since much has changed in those six years. In 2003, the adventure genre might have reached it's bottom, and from what I've researched, it looks like there has been a resurgence of interest in the genre in recent years. I know, the financial crisis affected adventure games as much (or even more) than the rest of the games industry, but I am looking to establish a trend, culminating in the game's release sometimes in 2010-2011. This also not a purely theoretical exercise, as I would actually love to test this business plan in practice and develop an actual game!

So if anyone could point me to more recent sales numbers of adventure games (or any similar relevant info, such number of downloads for free online games, etc), I would very much appreciate it!
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:36 AM   #2
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Welcome Hobbit!

That's a very interesting subject for a thesis. However, I believe sales figures are usually considered classified information and publishers will rarely talk about specific numbers, opting to offer a general idea of a title's performance on the market instead. And this is especially true for adventure games; for example, Telltale Games' president Dan Connors recently said in an interview that Tales of Monkey Island had seen their most successful launch since the company's inception. But how many individual units (or in that case, individual downloads) were sold remains a mystery.

On the other hand, some big companies will gladly brag about their sales performance. For instance, Activision was delighted to announce Call of Duty 4 had sold more than 10 million copies (as of winter 2008). Perhaps you'd have better luck at contacting developers or publishers directly, explaining who you are and what you're doing. I guess I'd start off with that if I had to write a thesis.

Good luck! And keep us updated, I'd be interested to know more.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:43 AM   #3
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As was just mentioned, never underestimate the value of industry contacts - I suggest sending out some carefully-worded emails around to different companies.
Also the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) is a good place to start. They make a yearly report on games stats, I don't know if these links still work but I used them in my dissertation: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2006.pdf
and
http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2008.pdf
I found that their graphs showed a upward trend for adventure games in the video game market - in 2005 the genre didn't feature in the super-genres pie chart but in 2007 it takes a 4.3% chunk. Go check it out for yourself.

Hope this helps!
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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Hobbit, if you get the results you're after would you mind sharing them with us? I wouldn't mind taking a shufty at said figures I'm not planning to start a game's company know, unless I suddenly win the lottery or something
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:38 PM   #5
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Thank you for your replies!

Deadwolf,
That's a good idea, I should write some emails, maybe I'll get some replies! I wonder, though, what is the reason behind not wanting to release actual sales figures. For a public company (which, I think, Activision is), revealing huge sales boosts their stocks, so that reasoning is clear. But I guess, for a private company, even if title is successful, there is just no reason to release anything...Those who need to know - they know, and for the general public, a simple "sales exceeded expectations" will do Hopefully, they'll let me in on this, after all, the only other person who will read this paper is my professor!

Hol,
Thank you for the links! 5% is a great number for adventure games, although I wonder what their definition of an "adventure game" is. Is it just the point & click adventures we all love, or does this include the "action adventures" as well, which are not quite the same thing...And then there are all sorts of casual games, which some sites also categorize under adventure. But either way, it does feel like the market is slowly growing, more games are coming out, and that means that there is demand. I read somewhere that adventure market in Europe is much larger than in US.

Another great article I found analyzes the sales of adventure games, although it's based on older data from 2003:

http://www.adventuredevelopers.com/f...=37&showpage=1

Marduk,
If I discover anything meaningful, I will definitely share with you guys!
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:45 PM   #6
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By the way, Hol, I found an updated version of the THEESA study, from 2009. It shows adventure game market share grown to 5.3%!
http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2009.pdf

This is actually very good, even such popular genre as strategy has only 6.2% and RPG, another popular genre, only 5.2%!
It appears that the market is certainly there...

ps. How can I turn on reply notifications, so that I get an email everytime somebody replies?
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Old 08-14-2009, 05:23 AM   #7
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I find it very cool that there are more gamers out there in the 50+ bracket than the 18- group.

Mind you, anybody who was into games and in their 30s when *I* started gaming should now be in their 50s. When you think about it we should start expecting to see a lot of senior gamers in the next 10 or 20 years.

I remember watching "Get Carter" a couple of years ago with my step father at the cinema, so it was the uncensored version. (You won't get that on TV). In light of the amount of Sex and Violence in the movie I was pretty surprised that he and I were the youngest people watching it (my Step father being in his late 40s at the time). The next youngest group had to have been in their late 50s... Then it occurred to me that the film it self was over 30 years old and that, when it came out, the other people watching would have been in the bracket you'd have expected to see in attendance.

Hell, by the time I get passed middle age computer games might be seen as an activity just for old people, maybe even scoffed at and mocked by people under the age of 18.
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ps. How can I turn on reply notifications, so that I get an email everytime somebody replies?
At the top of the thread there should see something that says "Thread Tools". It opens a drop down menu. I imagine "Subscribe to this Thread" will do what you want but I've never actually used it myself.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:22 AM   #8
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There are certainly indications that the genre is slowly growing!

But that said, my guess would be that the adventure category in the ESA reports includes everything adventure-esque, from traditional adventure games (point & click etc.) to Zelda, Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia. Maybe even a game like Assassin's Creed fits in that category.

It's not uncommon these days to categorize like that. So personally I wouldn't put too much weight on those numbers, when the focus is traditional adventure games. The real number could be less than 1%, hard to tell
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jannik View Post
But that said, my guess would be that the adventure category in the ESA reports includes everything adventure-esque, from traditional adventure games (point & click etc.) to Zelda, Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia. Maybe even a game like Assassin's Creed fits in that category.
Personally I'd list all 3 of those games under platform. (Well, maybe not Zelda, but that particular franchise has never really held my interest). That said; "Platform" games are conspicuously missing from the ESA's findings. But there are still categories games such as those or others would easily fit. All of them could easily be classed as 'Action', Zelda can go into "Children's...", and both that and Prince of Persia can probably fit under "Family...". Assassin's Creed, if nothing else, could easily be classed as a fighting game.

While I wouldn't normally put much faith in any large organisation to avoid confusing the facts when it comes to my beloved Adventure Games, I'd hope that the ESA has been around long enough to understand various game genres or at least employs enough people well informed on the subject.

(But even if that's true I can't even begin to speculate on how knowledgeable each individual who was involved in collating the information to either create the initial surveys, conduct them or compile the resulting data).
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Old 08-15-2009, 03:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadWolf View Post
...for example, Telltale Games' president Dan Connors recently said in an interview that Tales of Monkey Island had seen their most successful launch since the company's inception. But how many individual units (or in that case, individual downloads) were sold remains a mystery.
A number that Telltale has disclosed is over 1,000,000 episodes sold across all platforms, channels, and formats. (And this was before Tales of Monkey Island launched.) That announcement can be found here.

VG Chartz does a pretty good job of estimating sales numbers for console games. You might want to poke around there for additional information and possibly contact them for some help.
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