With video games a popular form of entertainment in many countries around the world, it’s easy to think that the market is homogenous. But, in fact, the reality is very different. Many publishers only release some of their titles in certain countries because they are tailored to a specific market.
For example, Canadian Football 2017, ABC Sports Monday Night Football, Coach K College Football, and Communist Mutants From Space were only released in North America. Similarly, European Superleague, F1 Manager, The Flintstones, and Golden Balls were European exclusives, while only Japanese players got to enjoy Ayakashi no Shiro, Battle Rush: Build Up Robot Tournament, and Diario: Rebirth Moon Legend.
The US market is the second-largest market for games in both number of players and revenue, so it’s understandable that many things happen there that may not elsewhere.
Here’s how gaming has changed in the US over the last few years.
Growth in iGaming
For much of the last decade, the US has lagged behind many other regions when it comes to being able to play card games online. It slowly began to shift in the early 2010s with New Jersey passing legislation that permitted online poker rooms to operate within the state.
Today, several states now allow the popular game. Unlike in more mature iGaming markets, like the United Kingdom, there are only a few sites that are available in the US, though there’s still enough choice for most players to find one that suits them. Most of the online cardrooms operating within the US are big brands, meaning players can access sites like PokerStars from the United States ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
Other forms of iGaming have also begun to expand across the country. Several states now also allow casino games to be played online, while many more permit wagering on sports games. Combined, this has helped iGaming to become a multi-billion dollar industry in the country.
As fewer people take calls on their smartphones due to spam calls, mobile gaming has grown a lot in the last couple of decades, but it has accelerated in recent years. In the US, around 62% of people install a game on their phone within a week of purchasing it, even people you wouldn’t traditionally associate as gamers.
It is this popularity that has led to around two-thirds of the entire US population becoming gamers, with more than 210 million Americans enjoying the medium.
Movies and games have a very close relationship. For the entire history of the gaming industry, developers have been creating titles that feature film characters or even recreate the entire plot of a recent box office hit.
An early example of this was Alien, which was released for the Atari 2600 in 1982 and was based on the movie of the same name.
The relationship works in the other direction too. In 1993, Nintendo’s favourite plumbers were featured in Super Mario Bros. The Movie, a live-action release that contained a strange plot that bore no resemblance to the cartoonish characters everyone had come to love. It was a commercial failure and put many movie studios off trying it themselves.
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However, in recent years, we’ve begun to see more and more movies hitting cinemas that are based on popular video games, including Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Tomb Raider (2018), and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). While they are typically global releases, the market in the US is much larger for these games with many players wanting to consume any and all content about their favourite titles.