Article

What Makes a Blockbuster Video Game? An Empirical Analysis of US Sales Data

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Abstract

This study uses a unique data set of individual video game titles to estimate the effect of an exhaustive set of observable characteristics on the likelihood of a video game becoming a blockbuster title. Due to the long-tailed distribution of the sales data, both ordinary least squares and logistic regression models are estimated. The results consistently show that blockbuster video games are more likely to be released by one of the major publishers for popular hardware platforms. Results also show that games of higher quality are significantly more likely to sell a greater number of units than those of a lower quality. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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... The first theme was consumer behavior, with papers discussing timings of product release (Dew & Ansari, 2015) and versioning (Cox, 2014), the effect and power of consumer reviews and word of mouth on pricing and consumer behavior (Hervas-Drane, 2015), and the relationship between perceptions of product quality and consumer buying intentions (Cox, 2014). In the second theme, marketplace competition and the constituent parts of the network, market entry characteristics (Sun & Tan, 2012) and barriers such as network effects (Schilling, 2003;De Vaan et al., 2015) and incomplete market information (Pan, 2017), as well as exclusive contracts in vertical relationships between the platform provider and software supplier (Cox, 2014) are discussed. ...
... The first theme was consumer behavior, with papers discussing timings of product release (Dew & Ansari, 2015) and versioning (Cox, 2014), the effect and power of consumer reviews and word of mouth on pricing and consumer behavior (Hervas-Drane, 2015), and the relationship between perceptions of product quality and consumer buying intentions (Cox, 2014). In the second theme, marketplace competition and the constituent parts of the network, market entry characteristics (Sun & Tan, 2012) and barriers such as network effects (Schilling, 2003;De Vaan et al., 2015) and incomplete market information (Pan, 2017), as well as exclusive contracts in vertical relationships between the platform provider and software supplier (Cox, 2014) are discussed. ...
... The first theme was consumer behavior, with papers discussing timings of product release (Dew & Ansari, 2015) and versioning (Cox, 2014), the effect and power of consumer reviews and word of mouth on pricing and consumer behavior (Hervas-Drane, 2015), and the relationship between perceptions of product quality and consumer buying intentions (Cox, 2014). In the second theme, marketplace competition and the constituent parts of the network, market entry characteristics (Sun & Tan, 2012) and barriers such as network effects (Schilling, 2003;De Vaan et al., 2015) and incomplete market information (Pan, 2017), as well as exclusive contracts in vertical relationships between the platform provider and software supplier (Cox, 2014) are discussed. A subtheme within this area deals with logistics and delivery aspects mainly focusing on differences between physical and digital distributions (Waterman & Wook Ji, 2012;Broekhuizen et al., 2013). ...
Conference Paper
INTRODUCTION The video game industry (VGI) has been growing in terms of global revenues (estimated $152.1 billion in 2019; Wijman, 2019), whilst also being disrupted by the increased growth of digital platforms such as Steam and Epic market, where now more than 80 % of videogames are sold (Yin-Poole, 2019). This represents a significant shift in the power and dependency interactions between organizations in the videogames networks, allowing for a wide range of different types of developers to engage in disintermediation by bypassing publishers and selling games directly to consumers and retaining a greater share of the retail price for themselves. In the "traditional" model, with intermediates such as distributors or retailers, the developer would receive as low as 10 % of the price, while using digital platforms generally allow 70-90 % to be retained by the developer (Tassi, 2018). Despite the significance of and ongoing changes in the VGI network, the academic research has been divergent, focusing mainly on dyadic or supply chain relations rather than taking a holistic network approach.
... Recently, only a few initial studies [31,57] analyzed this phenomenon by investigating differences and similarities in video game rating and review language of experts and amateurs, and we still lack a large-scale analysis of video game reviews. The facts that video game reviews impact (i) sales as estimated via numerous regression models [11,21,74,75], (ii) player experience as surveyed by multiple authors [28,42,43] and potentially even (iii) developer plans as implicated by the game piracy study of Drachen et al. [17] further support our view that video game reviews pose a relevant and fertile testbed for comparing expert with crowdsourced inputs. Research Questions. ...
... Online Reviews. Previous work on online reviews focused on their rating and textual valence, as well as economical impact in sales of books [9,12,26], movies [18,24,26,29,33,61,70], restaurants [30,45] and video games [11,21,74,75]. As these works establish the existence and strength of a relationship between review characteristics and market performance of experience goods [54], we turn our attention to another indicator of public reception of video games in particular: the interplay between expert and amateur review ratings and texts. ...
... There, a model using only the "Release Time" feature group attains the second highest performance. However, review text feature groups also carry predictive importance, in particular "Review Content" in the short-term prediction, and "Review Form" in the long-term 11 . Finally, models combining expert with amateur reviews boast classification performance gains in the feature groups "Rating" and "Review Content" ranging from 0.01 to 0.04 ROC AUC. ...
Article
As video game press ("experts") and casual gamers ("amateurs") have different motivations when writing video game reviews, discrepancies in their reviews may arise. To study such potential discrepancies, we conduct a large-scale investigation of more than 1 million reviews on the Metacritic review platform. In particular, we assess the existence and nature of discrepancies in video game appraisal by experts and amateurs, and how they manifest in ratings, over time, and in review language. Leveraging these insights, we explore the predictive power of early expert vs. amateur reviews in forecasting video game reputation in the short- and long-term. We find that amateurs, in contrast to experts, give more polarized ratings of video games, rate games surprisingly long after game release, and are positively biased towards older games. On a textual level, we observe that experts write rather complex, less readable texts than amateurs, whose reviews are more emotionally charged. While in the short-term amateur reviews are remarkably predictive of game reputation among other amateurs (achieving 91% ROC AUC in a binary classification), both expert and amateur reviews are equally well suited for long-term predictions. Overall, our work is the first large-scale comparative study of video game reviewing behavior, with practical implications for amateurs when deciding which games to play, and for game developers when planning which games to design, develop, or continuously support. More broadly, our work contributes to the discussion of wisdom of the few vs. wisdom of the crowds, as we uncover the limits of experts in capturing the views of amateurs in the particular context of video game reviews.
... The goal of video game designers and producers has always been to create better products compared to their competitors. A game is chosen among others because of its specific entertainment values [5,51], and the main feature of a successful computer game is the enjoyment of the player [2,17]. To be entertaining and enjoyable, video games need to be able to motivate the user to play and to persist in challenging tasks. ...
... In particular, while presence relates to a sense of spatial immersion in a mediated environment [54], flow is generally defined as the optimal experience when nothing else matters [6,35]. With respect to computer games, the flow has been defined as the sensation of influencing the activity in the virtual world ("gaming in action") [62], and it is recognized as a central element of exciting gaming experiences [5,33,34]. ...
Conference Paper
Scientific knowledge of the differences between video games played in virtual reality and on desktop displays in terms of player experience is still limited. Therefore, this study aimed to explore differences in immersion, flow, positive emotions, and psychological needs (i.e., challenge, competence, and tension/annoyance) between a video game played in virtual reality and on a desktop display. Thirty young adults played a racing game in virtual reality (Driveclub VR) and desktop (Driveclub) conditions. The Game Experience Questionnaire was used to assess player experience. The results showed that (a) performance on the game was the same in virtual reality and desktop condition; (b) the video game played in virtual reality was able to elicit more intense positive emotions; (c) the sense of immersion and flow was greater in virtual reality as opposed to the desktop condition; and (d) the fulfillment of psychological needs was independent of the display modality.
... Both developers and users alike focus upon games with good game principles (Tschang, 2005) as an innovative game principle forms the basis for increasingly immersive games (Tschang, 2007). Moreover, Cox (2014) suggests, that optimizing the game principle leads to an optimization of player experiences and consequently to an increase of sales. However, concerning the development of the effect of game principle on game success over time, we expect that there will be no difference between the effects on short-term and long-term game success. ...
... The data set was collected in 2017 and contains primary and secondary data on 351 computer games published between 2012 and 2015 (for the distribution of release dates please see Online Appendix A). In line with other research done in the video game industry (Cox, 2014;Situmeang et al., 2016;Wesley & Barczak, 2016), we decided to measure game success through sales figures as they are not affected by different market prices and differing exchange rates within the European countries. Consequently, we collected for each of the 351 games weekly sales figures from the vgchartz-database for the first three years after market introduction. ...
Article
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In recent years, the video game industry has invested significant amounts in the development of innovative elements for its products. However, it is still subject to debate whether these R&D investments always pay off. While prior research has confirmed that enhancing product innovativeness increases business performance in certain industries, corresponding findings for the video game market are lacking. This might be a result of missing theoretical conceptualizations and adequate empirical operationalizations of game innovativeness. Addressing this research gap, this study provides the first conceptualization and operationalization of game innovativeness, shedding first light on its performance effects. Based on longitudinal data on 351 computer games, our findings confirm that innovations in the game's presentation and principle enhance short-term success, whereas innovations in a game's storyline can be more of a hindrance than a godsend for companies. However, our results also show that performance effects of game innovativeness diminish over time. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12525-022-00521-7.
... Superstars are the very best-performing products which enjoy exponentially superior performance (e.g., downloads or revenues) compared to the products they compete with (e.g., Benner and Waldfogel, 2020;Brynjolfsson et al., 2010;Rosen, 1981). 2 Scholars are increasingly interested in superstar products given their important role in digital platforms, both as drivers of an ecosystem's overall value (Binken and Stremersch, 2009;Gretz et al., 2019) and as drivers of value for products' commercializing firms (Cox, 2014;Yin et al., 2014). We propose a novel measure for operationalizing superstar products in platform markets that accounts for variation in a product's demand potential and for the extent of competition a product faces. ...
... Dependent variable. We follow prior studies on superstar products in platform markets by applying a performance-based cutoff to distinguish superstar products from non-superstar products (Binken and Stremersch, 2009;Cox, 2014;Ershov, 2020;Gretz et al., 2019;Lee, 2013;Sun, Rajiv, and Chu, 2016;Yin et al., 2014). In deciding on an appropriate cutoff value, however, the researcher faces at least three challenges. ...
Article
Full-text available
RESEARCH SUMMARY Freemium products require widespread diffusion for their success. One way to do this is by incorporating social features (e.g., multiplayer functionality, virtual collaboration, ridesharing), which can generate network effects and result in a product becoming a superstar. However, social features can be a double-edged sword: When demand potential for freemium products is large, social features can significantly boost a product's appeal resulting in more adoption, more usage, and more in-app purchases; but when demand potential is constrained, network effects might fall short and users may feel they are missing out on key aspects of the product. We test this dynamic on a sample of 9,700 digital games on Steam. Findings contribute to our understanding of network effects, freemium strategies, and superstar products in platform markets. MANAGERIAL SUMMARY Freemium has become a popular business model among firms competing on digital platforms. Freemium products require widespread diffusion because most consumers do not pay for premium upgrades. One way to stimulate a product's diffusion is by incorporating social features (e.g., multiplayer functionality, virtual collaboration, ridesharing). Social features can boost a product's appeal resulting in more adoption, more usage, and more in-app purchases. Our analysis of 9,700 digital PC games on Steam reveals that the efficacy of incorporating social features importantly depends on the number of users on the platform itself. Social features can help freemium products become a superstar when the platform's installed base is large, but they hinder a freemium product's success when the platform's installed base is small. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Joe Cox performed an empirical study of U.S. sales data for blockbuster games in 2014. This study took a look at the dominant factors in the release of a blockbuster title (Cox, 2014;p.195). The data set has a sample size of 1770 video games. ...
... Similarly to the data analysis provided by Johnson, Cox also found a correlation which indicates that games with mature content tend to perform better (rho = 0.109). Both studies use the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating to represent maturity in their model, an organization that rates and organizes games by their maturity (Cox, 2014;Johnson, 2018). ...
Thesis
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Growth is an intrinsic element of human nature. Humans age and develop with the passage of time. Video games use elements of such desires for growth to power their gameplay. Player growth systems analyze the changes that a player and their player character experience during gameplay. This includes the visual changes, ability upgrades, as well as the emotional development that takes place during the story. Thus, a framework is presented to investigate how games with player growth systems are structured and how player characters evolve inside these games. This framework is then applied to a game project during its development to show how these tools can be used in an actual project. This process of implementation serves to visualize concrete examples of player growth systems. Specifically, the focus of the project was on the idea of plant growth in a third-person action game. The game developed during the project is tested in user tests to study the impact of player growth systems on engagement and gameplay structure. For this, a survey is used. It was found that players enjoyed learning new abilities and growing visually. Finally, the limitations of player growth systems are presented. This includes growth stagnation (lack of new end-game content).
... In this case, daily users and revenue likely relate, but the link is not entirely clear. Cox (2014) also shows that the year of release does not influence sales. Therefore, this study adopts a different approach to deal with the release time variable: It measures the days since the mobile gaming app was released. ...
... websites. Metacritic's free database offers aggregated customer reviews of movies, music, series, and games; previous publications cite it as a reliable data source (Cox, 2014;Marchand and Hennig-Thurau, 2013 With these variables, this study uses a multiple regression approach to address all these potential influences on revenue, with three models. An overall model checks for general influences of mobile gaming apps on revenue, and especially the influence of the revenue model itself. ...
... As a proxy for the marketing capacity of mobile games in general, we can think of the publisher's experiential ability. According to Cox (2014), blockbuster videogames are those released by one of the major publishers. Marchand et al. (2016) assume that video games published by one of the top ten biggest publishers would more easily achieve greater sales. ...
... It has been identified that consumer reviews and the number of ratings have a positive impact on purchase intentions (Hahn & Kim, 2013;Wang & Wang, 2010) and the number of mobile app downloads (Lee & Raghu, 2014;Liang, Li, Yang, & Wang, 2015;Liu, Au, & Choi, 2014;Son, 2017). Moreover, the players' evaluations are found to be one of the most significant factors in video game success (Cox, 2014;Marchand et al., 2016). To this end, we expect that users' evaluations will influence diffusion success in the later phases, and as a result, have an impact on the duration of staying in the upper ranks. ...
Article
Rapidly advancing mobile technology has made mobile games a leader in the global games market. As the market size of mobile games has grown, the competition has also accelerated enormously. Thus, in order to ensure success, mobile games must sustain their initial boom for a long time, as well as attract enough users to solidify their installed base. The purpose of this research is to detect diffusion patterns and identify the determinants of mobile games' growth and decline hazards. The results show that mobile games have a distinctive brand-level life cycle in which the growth possibility decreases monotonically over time after the release, while the decline possibility rises after reaching the peak and then later begins to fall. This paper shows how the games' characteristics affect their attracting/holding power. The study provides implications for developers and distributors in terms of how to design, market, and manage mobile games.
... With greater digitalisation, communication becomes more rapid and easier for a wider variety of SC participants to engage in. There are papers which look at the effect and power of consumer reviews and word of mouth on pricing and consumer behaviour (Hervas-Drane 2015; Cui et al. 2012) and those that establish a relationship between perceptions of product quality and consumer buying intentions (Cox 2014;Claussen et al 2015). These papers show that consumers in the VGI can wield significant power oversupplying ones in their interaction with the resources of the product. ...
... As Wenqi and Altinkemer (2008) note, competitors jockey to position themselves as the first-mover within a generation or wait and enter the market with cheaper and more advanced technologies. Similarly, determining market prices before product launch (Zufryden 2007) and using exclusive contracts in vertical relationships between the platform provider and software supplier (Prieger and Hu 2012;Cox 2014) can be challenging and therefore create additional barriers to entry. The rapidly expanding network of platform users and the use of complementary applications to capture entire markets or block entry has also been highlighted (Schilling 2003;Meagher and Teo 2005;Cennamo and Santalo 2013). ...
Article
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As industries mature, they rely more heavily on supply chain management (SCM) to ensure effective operations leading to greater levels of organisational performance. SCM has been widely covered in many industrial areas and, in line with other burgeoning sectors such as Tourism, an industry focus provides the opportunity to look in-depth at the context-based factors that affect SCM. Developments in digital distribution and rapid technological innovations have resulted in an increased focus on Digital Supply Chains (DSCs), which bring about significant changes to how consumers, customers, suppliers, and manufacturers interact, affecting supply chain design and processes. Through a systematic review of the Videogames Industry Supply Chain Management literature, which serves as a pertinent contextual example of a DSC, we look at how supply chains are affected by structural, market and technological change, such as increased platformisation, disintermediation and the proliferation of digital distribution. We distil these findings into a new research agenda, which identifies themes in line with extant DSC research, provides a series of relevant practice recommendations and identifies opportunities for future research.
... Sentiment scores range from one to nine with one being a terribly rated game and nine representing a phenomenal, or universally acclaimed, rating. It is generally accepted that higher rated products are more popular [64,65]. Controlling for game rating allows us to account for this effect. ...
Article
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Twitch users watched over 1.2 billion hours of streaming video in a single month in 2020, with the vast majority of these hours devoted to videogames. The most popular streamers who create this content are often powerful influencers in a rapidly growing industry, and many industries now see videogame influencer marketing as a key aspect of their marketing mix. However, while some streamers have amassed incredible popularity on Twitch, the factors that drive live-streaming viewership remain poorly understood. This study empirically examines a large population of Twitch streamers to explore this existing gap in the current research and explain how potential viewers make the decision to patronize a Twitch streamer. Using panel data on the actions and characteristics of Twitch streamers combined with other sources, the study identifies the heuristic cues most associated with successful Twitch streamers. Ultimately, the study identifies and evaluates multiple heuristics around Twitch content delivery practices, with significant implications for any live-streaming context.
... The results show that the prediction accuracy of the model is the most consistent with the actual stock price by Artificial Neural Network, and ANN method is more stable than the other methods in case of price fluctuations. Cox [6] investigated the factors influencing the commercial success of a digital game industry based on the American game statistics. The features of a digital game, which transforms it into a successful project, has been analyzed and predicted by the econometric model. ...
Article
Full-text available
Nowadays, due to continuous changes in the environment of organizations, the performance evaluation of productive or non-productive companies is not as simple as the past. In spite of the high sale and income of existing companies in the game industry, there are always unsuccessful game products and failed companies. So the digital game industry needs an appropriate performance evaluation system. In this paper, a model for performance assessment of companies in the digital game industry is proposed using integrated Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach. In order to design the evaluation system, the strategies and visions of the game companies are extracted as the initial step. The next step is to extract corresponding attributes and measures based on the four dimensions of the Balanced Scorecard. In the following, the weights of each measure, attributes and dimensions are obtained based on the expert’s opinion. Finally, the results of the implementation of the proposed model of the digital game company are calculated and the efficiency of the model for performance evaluation of the digital game industry is shown.
... Aside from the potential of simulations, machine learning techniques are known for their ability to uncover hidden data trends. While the choice of algorithms used in each study may differ, they all had one common similarity, they give choices that human track experts made and are able to use the data to create arbitrage opportunities [7]. For example, [5] used Back-Propagation Neural network with Principal Component Analysis to predict the weekly video games sales. ...
Article
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This paper studies factors that make the sales of video games becomes a blockbuster. The dataset used is collected from an online database maintained by VGChartz.com. Using the dataset, the Rapid Miner tool is used to select the features or factors and produce efficient estimation of the data. The techniques used in this project included the k-Nearest Neighbour (k-NN), Random Forest and Decision Tree. The factors and differences in the results are deliberated and discussed.
... Gaffeo et al. (2008) provide similar evidence in the context of the Italian book industry. While Cox (2014) observes the presence of the blockbuster effect in US video game sales. 3 Although the cited contributions permit an understanding of how, why and when we observe blockbusters and skewed returns, there has been no account of the effect that blockbusters have on overall industry value. ...
Article
Like other cultural industries, the theatrical film industry is subject to the ‘blockbuster effect’, where popular products often dominate their competition by orders of magnitude over relatively short-run time horizons. This paper investigates this particular feature of the industry and the implication for overall market size. Using simple regression analysis, a positive relationship between (product-level) market concentration and market size is established using weekly box office revenue data from the US motion picture industry. This empirical evidence supports a simple theoretical model of heterogeneous consumers who selectively participate in the market.
... Virtual reality gaming presently represents a new and increasing portion of the entertainment industry, and its popularity is continuously growing among users (Pallavicini et al., 2017;Parker, 2016;Statista, 2018) it is different from other technological products: while a consumer may be forced to use a particular software to perform a specific task for lack of alternatives, a game is chosen and bought by the consumer because of its specific entertainment value (Cox, 2013;Shelley, 2001). To be entertaining and enjoyable, video games need to be able to motivate consumers to play for hours, and to persist over challenging tasks; this is only possible when the game provides a good user experience (Korhonen, Montola, & Arrasvuori, 2009;Kruijff, Marquardt, Trepkowski, Schild, & Hinkenjann, 2017). ...
Article
Background. Virtual reality can provide innovative gaming experiences for present and future game players. However, scientific knowledge is still limited about differences between player’s experience in video games played in immersive modalities and games played in non-immersive modalities (i.e., on a desktop display). Materials and method. Smash Hit was played by 24 young adults in immersive (virtual reality) and non-immersive (desktop) condition. Self-report questionnaires (VAS-A, VAS-HP, VAS-SP, SUS, SUS-II) and psycho-physiological measures (heart rate and skin conductance) were used to assess usability, emotional response and the reported sense of presence. Results. No statistical differences emerged between the immersive and the non-immersive condition regarding usability and performance scores. The general linear model for repeated measures conducted on VAS-A, VAS-HP, VAS-SP scores for the virtual reality condition supported the idea that playing in the immersive display modality was associated with higher self-reported happiness and surprise; analysis on SUS-II revealed that the perceived sense of presence was higher in the virtual reality condition Discussion and conclusion. The proposed study provides evidence that (a) playing a video game in virtual reality was not more difficult than playing through a desktop display; (b) players showed a more intense emotional response, as assessed by self-report questionnaires and with psycho-physiological indexes (heart rate and skin conductance), after playing in virtual reality versus after playing through the desktop display; (c) the perceived sense of presence was found to be greater in virtual reality as opposed to the non-immersive condition.
... The magnitude of the coefficient suggests that the market price of pre-owned video games is relatively inelastic to variations in quality, as a one per cent increase in the Metacritic rating is estimated to increase the value of a typical game by just under half of one per cent. This is somewhat surprising given the significant influence that quality is seen to have on sales of new video games (Cox, 2014) and suggests that quality is a less important determinant of demand in the second hand market. Around half of the dummy variables representing games released by major publishers are significant at or above the ninety-five per cent confidence interval, suggesting that several major publishers have the potential to significantly add (or subtract) value from pre-owned video games. ...
Article
Information goods are characterised by high fixed costs and low marginal costs of production. A potentially effective strategy which can be adopted by firms operating in such markets is versioning, whereby various features are added or subtracted from a number of distinct versions of the good. This effectively serves as a means of second degree price discrimination designed to extract prices closer to the maximum willingness to pay from different groups of consumers. This study tests the effectiveness of versioning as a means of exploiting differences in willingness to pay in secondhand markets for information goods by undertaking the first hedonic price analysis of video gaming software. The empirical evidence presented in this paper is based on the analysis of an extensive cross-sectional dataset consisting of over five thousand observations of pre-owned video game prices in the US. Controls are introduced for a variety of other observable characteristics, including the quality of the game-play experience, the publisher, genre and theme of the game. The results are consistent with theoretical expectations and demonstrate significant variations in willingness to pay can be exploited through the strategic use of versioning. The practice is therefore argued to represent an effective means by which firms in these markets can enhance revenues.
... Entry into a new market segment was operationalized by examining video game developers who released a video game in a genre that was new to them. In the video game industry, genre is an important driver of games sales (Marchand and Hennig-Thurau, 2013;Cox, 2013), similar to other creative industries (e.g., Dhar et al., 2012). Examples of popular video game genres are action, racing, and shooter games. ...
... If the game is set up like a story where there is a definitive unhappy ending, or if the player becomes aware of the futility of playing the game after countless renditions of unwinnable scenarios, popularity will need to be measured differently than by solely by the number of ratings on the internet. One way to measure the popularity of an unwinnable and/or unhappy game is to look to the world of television sweeps where play is measured by time spent on the actual game (Cox 2014). In the age of free-to-play, many games you can't win (which are designed for learning or social issue awareness) are hosted on websites that do not require you to either buy or download the game. ...
Article
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A common notion in games for learning is that the player must win the game. But is it always necessary for the player to win in order to ‘get’ the message that the game is trying to portray? When we think back on our most memorable learning experiences, we find that these lessons are often things we learned through failure rather than success. There is a class of games where ‘winning’ doesn’t look the way we typically expect it to look. Some games do not allow their players to win, and their underlying message is more akin to that found in a cautionary tale. We refer to these games as games you can’t win, and they form a distinctly different approach to game design. Games such as Sweatshop (Littleloud, 2011), Darfur is Dying (MTVu, 2006), and September 12th (Newsgaming, 2005) are games you cannot conceivably win, and they are designed that way deliberately. This paper presents a critique on serious games that are unwinnable by design. We examine the concepts of games and learning, the design of unwinnable games, design strategies for unhappy and/or unwinnable learning games, and ways to measure the success of games you can’t win. We also briefly consider potential issues and future directions, and we conclude that the messages delivered via games you can’t win are more powerful than those of games in which you can win.
... In an initial but limited exploration of demand drivers for video games, Cox (2014) stresses the significant influence of major publishers and professional game reviews, along with significant effects of genres, mature age ratings, and sequels. However, his model lacks a theoretical framework and excludes potentially important factors, such as advertising for the focal game or competitors' game releases, non-expert evaluations, retail prices, and system hardware. ...
Article
Declining demand in later stages of product lifecycles challenges managers. Especially in system markets, content providers must decide whether to publish new content in late lifecycle stages or wait for the next system generation. This study investigates whether content providers can compensate for declines in demand for a system by relying on the benefits offered by a large installed base in later lifecycle stages. Drawing on extensive market data from the video game industry – an underresearched but economically and culturally relevant category of the entertainment sector – this study examines ways to achieve such compensation. The data analyses show a negative association between the age of a system generation and content sales. However, an online multiplayer feature can counteract this negative effect by exploiting the large installed base and providing consumers with additional social value through direct network effects. These findings should help managers position their products more successfully in the late lifecycle stages of a particular system generation.
... However, little is known about how much aggregated reviewer and user scores reflect the actual player experience. Videogame reviews are, for some consumers, an important source of information that can guide purchasing of videogame titles [6,8]. In fact, research has shown that reviews (when read before playing a game for the first time) can actually influence player experience [20,21]. ...
Conference Paper
This study sought to examine how measures of player experience used in videogame research relate to Metacritic Professional and User scores. In total, 573 participants completed an online survey, where they responded the Player Experience of Need Satisfaction (PENS) and the Game Experience Questionnaire (GEQ) in relation to their current favourite videogame. Correlations among the data indicate an overlap between the player experience constructs and the factors informing Metacritic scores. Additionally, differences emerged in the ways professionals and users appear to allocate game ratings. However, the data also provide clear evidence that Metacritic scores do not reflect the full complexity of player experience and may be misleading in some cases.
... First, the home video game industry is often cited as a canonical example of platform-based systems (Corts and Lederman 2009;Dubé et al. 2010). Second, extant research shows that superstar games exert a significant influence on console market-share growth (Binken and Stremersch 2009;Cox 2014;Lee 2013). Third, total industry sales in console generations follow unique patterns over their lifespan (Gretz and Basuroy 2013), allowing us to study dynamic effects of superstar and non-superstar software as consoles age. ...
Article
In the context of two-sided markets, we propose hardware lifecycle as a key moderator of the impact of superstar and non-superstar software on hardware adoption. A hardware’s earlier adopters are less price sensitive and have a higher preference for exciting and challenging software. In contrast, later adopters are more price sensitive and prefer simplicity in software. Superstar software tend to be more expensive and more complex compared to non-superstars. Therefore, earlier (later) adopters prefer superstars (non-superstars), which leads to higher impact of superstars (non-superstars) on hardware adoption in the early (later) stages of the hardware lifecycle. Using monthly data over a 12-year timeframe (1995–2007) from the home video game industry, we find that both superstar and non-superstar software impact hardware demand, but they matter at different points in the hardware lifecycle. Superstars are most influential when hardware is new, and this influence declines as hardware ages. In contrast, non-superstar software has a positive impact on hardware demand later in the hardware lifecycle, and this impact increases with hardware age. Findings reveal that eventually the amount of available non-superstar software impacts hardware adoption more than the amount of available superstar software. We provide several managerial implications based on these findings.
... La puntuación oscila entre 0 y 100, donde una puntuación de 100 es la mejor puntuación posible. Este puntaje se ha convertido en un punto de referencia líder en el negocio del entretenimiento al evaluar cómo "bueno" un producto (Cox 2014, Grubb 2013. ...
Article
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Being part of a globalized world where digital technologies and therefore video games as part of them, have an impact in areas ranging from the everyday to the educational implications which concerns us the most, it is important to understand the impact that collective knowledge has in the decision-making process and consumption habits of current generations, in particular that of the Juárez Autonomous University students.
... By way of comparison with the existing literature, our headline findings are consistent with other studies investigating the sales performance of video game software, which shows how reviews from professional critics [53], price [54], sequels, and age ratings [55] tend to associate positively with sales performance. In the broader context of entertainment markets, several other studies have also pointed to the importance of similar determinants of commercial performance at the movie box office,--including reviews from professional critics [31,32], sequels [56,57], and age ratings [58]. ...
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This study uniquely employs a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) technique to account for complex relationships in consumption. The fsQCA technique assumes that relationships are based on a set–subset relationship. This assumption is fundamental when decision-makers are affected by information asymmetry and are, thus, required to jointly evaluate the credibility and reliability of a range of external signals. This issue also affects consumers in markets for cultural goods, where the quality of products is not known with certainty in advance of the purchase decision. Our study uses fsQCA to establish the effect of different quality signals on consumption in the US market for video game software. Our results show that reviews from professional critics alongside brand extension and multi-platform release strategies act as signals of product quality and, therefore, lead to high sales performance.
... In particular, while presence relates to a sense of spatial immersion in a mediated environment [10], flow is generally defined as the optimal experience when nothing else matters [11,12]. With respect to computer games, flow has been defined as the sensation of influencing the activity in the virtual world (ie, gaming in action) [13], and it is recognized as a central element of exciting gaming experiences [14,15]. ...
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Background In the last few years, the introduction of immersive technologies, especially virtual reality, into the gaming market has dramatically altered the traditional concept of video games. Given the unique features of virtual reality in terms of interaction and its ability to completely immerse the individual into the game, this technology should increase the propensity for video games to effectively elicit positive emotions and decrease negative emotions and anxiety in the players. However, to date, few studies have investigated the ability of virtual reality games to induce positive emotions, and the possible effect of this new type of video game in diminishing negative emotions and anxiety has not yet been tested. Furthermore, given the critical role of body movement in individuals’ well-being and in emotional responses to video games, it seems critical to investigate how body involvement can be exploited to modulate the psychological benefits of virtual reality games in terms of enhancing players’ positive emotions and decreasing negative emotions and anxiety. Objective This within-subjects study aimed to explore the ability of commercial virtual reality games to induce positive emotions and diminish negative emotions and state anxiety of the players, investigating the effects of the level of body involvement requested by the game (ie, high vs low). MethodsA total of 36 young adults played a low body-involvement (ie, Fruit Ninja VR) and a high body-involvement (ie, Audioshield) video game in virtual reality. The Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Form-Y1 (STAI-Y1) were used to assess positive and negative emotions and state anxiety. ResultsResults of the generalized linear model (GLM) for repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) revealed a statistically significant increase in the intensity of happiness (P
... Sometimes referred to as the 'winner-take-all' effect (Frank and Cook 1995), the phenomenon has been widely discussed in scholarly works on films (for example , Walls 2010;Fernandez-Blanco et al. 2013), recorded music (for example, Strobl and Tucker 2000;Connolly and Krueger 2006;Pitt 2010) and books (for example, Gaffeo et al. 2008;Berger et al. 2010). 5 It has also been studied in other cultural industries, including performing arts (Kulmatitskiy et al. 2016), visual arts (Candela et al. 2016) and video games (Cox 2014). ...
Chapter
This chapter reviews some of the main themes that studies of demand for cultural goods and services have examined over recent years. Earlier demand studies were generally related to demand for a specific category of cultural product (for example, performing arts). These studies often considered basic but necessary issues, such as demographic profiles of consumers as well as estimation of demand elasticities. Other early studies highlighted the experiential aspect of consumption and the cumulative nature of consumption capital as defining idiosyncrasies of cultural demand. More recently, demand studies on cultural industries have evolved with specific focus on demand for individual products rather than broad categories of cultural products. This has been actioned by applying increasingly more sophisticated econometric techniques as well as wider conceptual models such as (1) information asymmetry faced by consumers unable to judge quality prior to consumption, (2) demand for superstar products versus niche products, and (3) demand for domestic versus imported products. This evolution of studies on demand for cultural goods and services is also broadly related to globalisation and digitisation of cultural industries.
... For example, because new superstars create excitement, they might attract increased attention and more new platform adopters (Binken and Stremersch 2009;Gretz et al. 2019). Franchise video games also are disproportionately attractive to consumers, so they prompt higher sales (Cox 2014;Marchand 2016), and new franchise software might draw more new adopters to the platform. ...
Article
Platform markets involve indirect network effects as two or more sides of a market interact through an intermediary platform. Many platform markets consist of both a platform device and corresponding software. In such markets, new software introductions influence incumbent software sales. New entrants may directly cannibalize incumbents. However, entrants may also create an indirect halo impact by attracting new platform adopters, who then purchase incumbent software. To measure performance holistically, this article introduces a method to quantify both indirect and direct paths and determine which effect dominates and when. The authors identify relevant moderators from the sensations–familiarity framework and conduct empirical tests with data from the video game industry (1995–2019). Results show that the direct impact often results in cannibalization which generally increases when the entrant is a superstar or part of a franchise. For the indirect halo impact, superstar entrants significantly increase platform adoption, which can help all incumbents. Combining the direct and indirect impacts, only new software that is both a superstar and part of a franchise increases platform adoption sufficiently to overcome direct cannibalization and achieve a net positive effect on incumbent software; all other types of entrants have a neutral or negative overall effect.
... By analysing a dataset of 1,800 observations on AAA games Cox (2014) found that "as quality is found to be one of the most important factors affecting the likelihood of a video game becoming a blockbuster, optimisation of the gameplay experience would seem to have considerably more impact on sales than, say, paying for a license or franchise endorsement" (197). Cox uses quality as a term to describe the overall gameplay experience of the player and not just the technical implementation of the gameplay. ...
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In this paper, we present an approach to studying the game design process by drawing upon general models of design to support research into the process of game design. Several general models of design exist to consider the processes through which designers work. Many of these fit within a structure of analysis, synthesis and evaluation that was first proposed by Christopher Jones in 1963 and later adapted by Bryan Lawson to account for the messy nature of design and the undertaking of these activities while negotiating between problem and solution. This paper proposes the adaptation of Lawson's model of design to study the activities of game designers and to potentially find opportunities to improve and refine the process of game design. Specifically, the paper seeks to propose a model for facilitating the study of the game design process as it relates to the individual actions designers take when developing games.
... The results suggest a correlation between a game's reach and its age rating, as they show lower average numbers of Amazon-ratings retrieved for games labelled with a USK-age rating of 16 and 18. However, there are studies that do not confirm such a correlation [35], but on the contrary rather link higher age ratings to higher sales [16,17,40]. An explanation for such contradictions in correlation between age rating and 'success' (i.e., sales numbers, popularity/reach/number of ratings) could be that the so-called 'forbidden fruit effect' (i.e., positive effect on game sales; demand is increased by young consumers who want to 're-establish' their lost freedom by choosing to consume a restricted video game) and the 'tainted fruit effect' (i.e., negative effect on game sales; demand is decreased by young consumers who are less interested in games with a high age rating in an attempt to avoid potentially harmful content consumption) compensate for each other [35]. ...
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This paper shows how heterogenous web data can be retrieved from global yet regionally tailored online platforms such as Amazon. A systematic data retrieval approach was applied to obtain data from regional Amazon and Nintendo websites. The data retrieval uses a 3x3 criteria setting: Three attributes (genre, age rating, player-count), three forms of analysis (distribution, reception, price), and three countries (Germany, U.S.A., Japan). A streamlined choice of Amazon-entries is suggested, and further criteria were set to allow comparisons between different regions. 196 Nintendo Switch games and 15 game genres were analysed. The results show which attributes accumulate the highest numbers of Amazon-ratings and rating scores in which country, and which genres have the highest Amazon-and Nintendo-prices. An uncovering of rating and pricing similarities and differences is of value to game research scholars and game developer studios and aids in a targeted catering to customers in different regions.
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This study demonstrates how heterogenous data can be retrieved from global yet regionally tailored online retail platforms. A systematic data retrieval approach is suggested to obtain data from regional Amazon and Nintendo websites. The data retrieval uses a 3 × 3 criteria setting: Three attributes (genre, age rating, player-count), three forms of analysis (distribution, reception, price), and three countries (Germany, United States, Japan). A streamlined choice of entries on the chosen online retail platforms is suggested. We determine adequate criteria that allow for data comparisons between different regions. This study’s systematic approach provides first-step solutions to gather, interpret, and manage information derived from online retail platforms to increase its business usage and value. The analysis of rating, pricing, and age rating similarities and differences in various countries is of value to game research and game developer studios. It can provide a basis to develop successful strategies for customer targeting in different regions.
Article
Purpose The study aims to show how several factors interact to promote mobile game download: the number of games released by a publisher, the quality of the games released, the popularity of a game's genre, the quality of borrowed intellectual property, the frequency of recommendations, intragenre ranking, consumer rating and review quantity. Design/methodology/approach Signaling theory was used to classify the mobile game information displayed on the Apple App Store into four groups. A conceptual model was proposed to illustrate the complex relationship between the information and download. Based on information on 203 mobile games in the seven days following their release, the model was empirically tested to identify the influence of information configuration on game download by combining fuzzy qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) and a fuzzy cognitive map (FCM). Findings Three solutions were identified for high game download and two for low/medium. The number of previous games released by a publisher, intragenre ranking, consumer rating and review quantity are core conditions that reinforce high game download. The effects of one information type on another and on downloads change as coexisting information types change. Originality/value This study enriches existing knowledge about how combinations of multiple types of game information lead to game download and extends previous variance-based research. Combining an FCM with fsQCA can facilitate one’s understanding of the complex causal relationships between game information and download.
Article
Experience goods are characterised by information asymmetry and a lack of ex ante knowledge of product quality, such that reliable external signals of quality are likely to be highly valued. Two potentially credible sources of such information are reviews from professional critics and 'word of mouth' from other consumers. This paper makes a direct comparison between the relative influences and interactions of reviews from both of these sources on the sales performance of video game software. In order to empirically estimate and separate the effects of the two signals, we analyze a sample of 1480 video games and their sales figures between 2004 and 2010. We find evidence to suggest that even after taking steps to control for endogeneity, reviews from professional critics have a significantly positive influence on sales which outweighs that from consumer reviews. We also find evidence to suggest that reviews from professional critics also interact significantly with other signals of product quality. Consequently, we contend that professional critics adopt the role of an influencer, whereas word-of-mouth opinion acts more as a predictor of sales in the market for video games.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how the number and quality of games that publishers have released, popularity of game genre, age rating and package size are configured to determine the mobile game takeoff in a short time. Design/methodology/approach Based on the signaling theory, the authors present a conceptual model. Using actual data about 170 mobile games at their initial stage in the Apple App store, the authors test the conceptual model by applying fuzzy qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). Findings The findings identify four solutions that explain Mobile game takeoff in a short time. The authors highlight the role of the number and quality of games released by publishers, as well as that of popular game genres, which are always core factors when present. Originality/value This paper complements the previous research on the diffusion of mobile games by exploring which information combinations can lead to mobile games takeoff in a short time from the perspective of configuration. FsQCA serves as a better tool for explaining the complex relationships among variables than a regression analysis approach does. The authors extend existing knowledge on how the number and quality of games that publishers have released, popularity of game genre, age rating and package size combine to lead to takeoff of mobile games in a short time.
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The modern videogame industry is a massive economic and social engine. Much like the creation of a film, making a videogame requires a highly coordinated team of moving parts, with significant front-end costs. As such, to move units, all the artistic components need to be perfect to create a compelling world that demands continued engagement and brand loyalty. This article elucidates the specific essential role of the voice actor in the world building process, outlines how the voice is central to the immersive gaming experience, and critically assess the vocal tools used by practicing professionals for some of the leading games of the last decade.
Chapter
In this chapter, we study branded signals or “quasi-search” characteristics. We define entertainment brands and distinguish the various kinds of brands that exist in this context. We show the strategic options that branding offers entertainment managers and discuss key branding strategies such as brand extensions, category extensions, and the use of stars as branded ingredients or para-social interaction partners of consumers. Taking a franchise perspective requires a unique perspective of brand management; we discuss it and link it with recent meta-franchises such as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. We conclude the chapter with a look at how the financial value of entertainment brands can be calculated, based on existing data.
Chapter
Consumers have to decide whether to spend money or time for an entertainment product without knowing whether it is of high (experience) quality. They have to determine the quality of an experience product in advance using search qualities or “pseudo-search” ones—signals that help consumers to infer whether they will enjoy a product or not. We explore the signals that consumers use to aid in their search for which entertainment products to buy. In this chapter, we explore technology as a major search quality of entertainment, followed by a discussion of several signals, namely the product’s genre or theme, any age restrictions and the critical content that underlies them, and the country of origin.
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I construct a theoretical framework for expert product reviews and demonstrate how the existence of positive network effects can make review inflation profitable even when consumers are rational. This finding moreover suggests that product reviews may serve as a coordination mechanism for early adopters. In an empirical application to the video game journalism industry, I find evidence that reviews are inflated for games produced by large firms and for those that are part of pre‐existing game franchises. Additionally, I find variation in inflation across genres that would be inconsistent with common alternative theories of inflation, such as consumer naivete.
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In the past twenty years, the video game industry has established itself as a significant contributor to the global entertainment economy. Compared to more established entertainment industries such as movies and music, limited scholarly research in marketing has addressed the processes that create value for companies and consumers in the context of video games which are now available on multiple devices (e.g., consoles, portables, mobile devices) and through multiple channels (e.g., retail and online). The authors therefore develop a conceptual framework of value creation through video games, highlight important findings from extant research in marketing and other disciplines, and apply the framework to derive future research opportunities.
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The video game industry has continued to grow dramatically over the past decade, cutting into mainstream media in participation and revenues as it becomes part of mainstream media culture. Following the industrial organization model, this paper conceptualizes and systematically analyzes five vertical stages and the key market segments of consoles, handheld and PC‐based games. Genre‐based measures of content show that the different game platforms have varying levels of product diversity, driven by differing levels of risk and rewards. Comparisons in production and distribution are made with other major media. The main conclusion is that the industry is reaching a mature phase with concentration and integration beginning to be found in its stages. A mainstreaming of content is partially countered by a vibrant community of developers, mostly for PC games. As a standard‐based industry, non‐interoperability and network effects continue to play a key role in preserving competition in a field with a shrinking number of firms.
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This paper examines the role of creative resources in the emergence of the Japanese video game industry. We argue that creative resources nurtured by popular cartoons and animation sector, combined with technological knowledge accumulated in the consumer electronics industry, facilitated the emergence of successful video game industry in Japan. First we trace the development of the industry from its origin to the rise of platform developers and software publishers. Then, knowledge and creative foundations that influenced the developmental trajectory of this industry are analyzed, with links to consumer electronics and in regards to cartoons and animation industry.
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Our findings lend further support to existing, informal evidence that the characteristics of successful films have changed over the past forty years. Moreover, they also suggest that it may well be possible to develop empirical models relating a film's attributes to the likelihood of consumer demand. Unfortunately, such analysis cannot be undertaken without access to more detailed information on the performance and features of individual movies. Given the interesting characteristics of movies as ideal examples of differentiated products and of the institutional arrangements governing their production and distribution, such increased data availability would make this an exceptionally attractive area for applied micro‐economic research.
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This paper examines the competitive dynamics in a standard-based industry through a historical observation of the US home video game industry. The paper focuses on the theoretical issues of switching costs, installed base and complementary goods as critical factors of dominant designs and firm success in a network-based industry. The authors' analysis reveals multiple stages of technological innovations and changes of market leadership and industry standards during a relatively short history of the industry. The industry exhibits six generations of technological changes in video game consoles and complementary products, with each generation represented by a new set of competitors, dominant designs, and market leaders out-competing the leaders of the prior generation. Their analysis confirms the efficacy of traditional tenets of successful strategic management in a network-based industry, such as the importance of technological innovation, building entry barriers, protecting firm-specific assets, competitive pricing, brand recognition and effective channel management. These traditional strategies, however, should be geared to achieve new strategic goals, such as building installed base and a network of complementary products, that are critical success factors in competing in a network-based industry
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We examine the importance of indirect network effects in the U.S. video game market between 1994 and 2002. The diffusion of game systems is analyzed by the interaction between console adoption decisions and software supply decisions. Estimation results suggest that introductory pricing is an effective practice at the beginning of the product cycle, and expanding software variety becomes more effective later. We also find a degree of inertia in the software market that does not exist in the hardware market. This observation implies that software providers continue to exploit the installed base of hardware users after hardware demand has slowed.
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I examined the performance of motion pictures released in the United States and Canada between October 1987 and October 1989. Performance was measured by two dependent variables: domestic rentals (RENTs) and the length of run (LOR) of each film. In addition, a new independent variable designed to measure the impact of competition on motion picture performance was hypothesized. LOR was found to be a reliable proxy for RENTs in predicting performance and will allow researchers to expand the base of films that can be included in future studies. Further, the independent variable for competition was found to have a significant negative relation with RENTs as a predictor of performance. That is, as the concentration ratio for a specific film increases, the competition that film faces increases; as a result, the RENTs for that specific film decrease.
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Using hedonic results from a unique data set covering the U.S. home video game industry (1976–2003) the interaction between software provision and console price is analyzed. Increased software provision negatively effects console price. This is contrary to many empirical pricing studies in the network effects literature greater software provision makes hardware more valuable and this should be reflected by increased hardware price. However, the main result from the paper is consistent with the recent theoretical literature on two-sided markets. Also, findings suggest the two-sided pricing strategy employed by hardware firms is dynamic. The percent of price decrease accredited to game provision decreases over time. KeywordsHedonic prices-Indirect network effects-Two-sided markets-Video games JELL16-L14-C23-L82
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In this paper, we attempt to evaluate whether a film's commercial performance can be forecast. The statistical distribution of film revenues in the UK is examined and found to have unbounded variance. This undermines much of the existing work relating a film's performance to its identifiable attributes within an OLS model. We adopt De Vany and Walls' approach and transform the revenue data into a binary variable and estimate the probability that a film's revenue will exceed a given threshold value; in other words, the probability of a blockbuster. Furthermore, we provide a sensitivity analysis around these threshold values. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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In this paper we attempt to evaluate whether a film's commercial performance can be forecast. The statistical distribution of film revenues in the UK is examined and found to have unbounded variance.
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Software platforms are a critical component of the computer systems underpinning leading-edge products ranging from third-generation mobile phones to video games. After describing some key economic features of computer systems and software platforms, the paper presents case studies of personal computers, video games, personal digital assistants, smart mobile phones, and digital content devices. It then compares several economic aspects of these businesses including their industry evolution, pricing structures, and degrees of integration.
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