In an age of mega-corporations, innovation is key if indies want to thrive.
The gaming world is getting smaller. Microsoft’s recent announcement that it intends to buy Activision Blizzard in the biggest deal in video game history is just the next step in a trend that’s been happening for years; Activision Blizzard was itself formed when Activision took over Blizzard in an $18.9 billion deal in 2008. And when it comes to buying smaller publishers, Microsoft has form – it previously bought Minecraft developer Mojang in 2014 for $2.5 billion, and Doom publisher ZeniMax in 2020 for $7.5 billion.
Microsoft’s takeover of Activision Blizzard – if it’s approved by regulators – would make the Xbox maker the third biggest company in the gaming industry, behind only PUBG giant TenCent and PlayStation stalwart Sony.
Between them, these three gaming behemoths would own such popular gaming franchises as PUBG, Call of Duty, Starcraft, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft, The Last of Us, Uncharted, Tekken, God of War, Final Fantasy and Gran Turismo, accounting for millions of gamers all over the world.
Agglomeration, consolidation, mergers and acquisitions… whatever you call it, the result is the same: a few massive companies come to dominate the entire gaming landscape, with more power concentrated in fewer hands. It’s already happened in other creative industries, with Disney taking over 21st Century Fox, AT&T acquiring Time Warner, and Amazon buying MGM, the movie studio behind James Bond.
According to Deloitte, this is the result of major technological innovations causing ever more frequent market shifts. “[W]ith content consumption and distribution trends shifting ever more rapidly, there’s no guarantee of survival,” it wrote in a recent report. These constantly changing market dynamics are “one major reason why storied media brands are teaming up and looking to combine assets to strengthen their position and prepare for a new era, whatever it might look like."
Microsoft recognises its size creates problems for the gaming industry, and has pledged to be “more focussed on adapting to regulation than fighting against it”. But still, it poses the question: where does this leave the little guys? And how can these Davids thrive in a land of video game Goliaths?
Not game over
Competing with such gaming giants might seem intimidating, but the good news is that it’s not game over. Activision itself started life as a small company when a group of disgruntled Atari employees jumped ship and struck out on their own. And look at it now.
Activision was able to thrive because of one key factor: innovation. It became the world’s first third-party game developer – that means it produced and published games for other companies’ consoles and platforms. Today third-party publishers are ten a penny, but that’s all thanks to Activision blazing a trail. Of course, the gaming landscape today is very different to when Activision started life in the late 1970s – smaller games companies can’t just follow the Activision play book and hope for the best. But they can continue in the same spirit.
After all, who would you trust to be more innovative: employees of a stuffy mega-corporation stifled by bureaucracy, or a passionate indie publisher who needs to stay creative in order to put food on the table?
The ethical alternative
Gamers know this. So, for indies, the smart money is in positioning themselves as the ethical alternative to the corporate giants. There’s a big move – especially among younger consumers – towards conscious consumerism; according to Accenture, more than half of consumers would rather pay more for sustainable products. That’s all well and good if you can afford to do so. But with the cost of living rising, more and more households are squeezed financially – one recent survey said that Britons feel that saving money is more important than helping the planet.
What if you could reconcile these two seemingly opposing views? What if you could save your customers money while also helping them make green choices by reinvesting in the environment?
That’s the philosophy behind Kindred. Once mobile game developers sign up, we can secure their customers savings when they shop online using the keyboard on their mobile browser. They can then spend the majority of these savings as in-game credit, and donate the rest to worthwhile causes like tree planting to offset carbon footprints. It can also be put into an investment pot for green initiatives that support carbon capture projects.
Not only does this appeal to gamers on an emotional level, it also negates the need for in-game ads or in-app purchases. And it creates a passive revenue stream of 25 per cent for the game's studios from Kindred’s commission from the merchant. Everyone wins.
By creating a strong emotional bond with today’s eco-conscious consumers, you can not only improve the user experience for your games, you can also get the edge on the big studios, levelling the playing field significantly. Game on.
Discover how you can build a loyal gaming community with Kindred for Business here.