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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Playing the future: Kathy Vrabeck
All this week, the BBC News website is looking at the future of video games as seen by some of the prominent figures in the business.

Over the next year or so, new consoles such as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution are set to change the face of gaming.

Kathy Vrabeck is president of Activision Publishing, which publishes games such as Call of Duty and Tony Hawk

Kathy Vrabeck, Activision
Vrabeck: Sights set on the core male gamer
Right now, although we have titles in development for the next generation consoles, our focus certainly for this year is on the current gen.

There are millions of people who own current generation consoles, who are just buying them right now, so that's where the bulk of the business gets done.

We're all still at the initial phase of working out how powerful the games on the new consoles are going to be, but we are seeing that the games look more realistic.

That's because of some of the shadowing and shading you can do. We're finding you can get more things on screen.

The sound, the hi-definition, all these factors are contributing to a more immersive game experience so you feel you are right in the middle of a movie almost.

To keep a franchise like Tony Hawk or Call of Duty fresh, we have to find ways to innovate within the game.

That goal is no different as we move to the next gen. And moving to the next gen, there are some things that just open up naturally due to the power of the hardware.

In brands we trust

Costs are going to go up but revenues are also going to go up. Activision has able to manage production costs as a percentage of revenue to a consistent level, between 19% and 21%.

What we find in talking to gamers, is that it is not so much a new genre as a new experience that they want. Ultimately they just want a great game

So yes, costs are going to rise, but as long as they rise in relation to revenue, we're ok.

What we are seeing if we look at the marketplace is that 80% of the top 50 games are franchises or sequels. As the audience for games has become more mass market, for these people, a brand is important.

If they are going to go and pay $50 (28.5) for a game, they want to know, 'I've played this before and I liked it. I know this brand, I trust it'. For this group of people, branding and franchises are more important.

At this point the genres are fairly defined for the industry its hard to come out and say you are going to do something completely new genre.

What we find in talking to gamers, is that it is not so much a new genre as a new experience that they want. Ultimately they just want a great game.

'Untapped opportunity'

Among males, gaming is very mainstream. Research shows that men between 18 and 34-years-old are spending a dollar more on games than on music, and spending the same levels on movies.

So among young men, it is absolutely mainstream.

For it to become broader, it is going to have to reach women who are the group that is currently not playing games on a large scale.

Obviously some of the games will have to change . They will need to be games that are more appealing to women and girls.

Most women are too busy to devote 12 hours a week to gaming so it will have to be gaming experiences that are shorter; the online gaming is where women are gaming.

But it is not a big focus for us. There is so much untapped opportunity for us among the core male gamer, that going after the female gamer is not high on the priority list for us.

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