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Boys Are From Mars, Girls Are From Venus and This Information is From Jupiter

1 Apr, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Games are a revenue stream that's picking up steam in the home video industry. Game sales figures already best the annual box office revenue that Hollywood movies take in.

For a long time game prices were prohibitive, making margins low and putting off a lot of rentailers. But now more of the game publishers seem open to revenue-sharing or other deals that make games a more viable rental option.

This morning Jupiter Research released a study that found video games are more popular among low income households than more affluent homes.

That may make sense of why games like Vice City, which tend to offend some folks' sensibilities (including mine), do so well: parents of a 12-year-old in the suburbs are more likely to find the game offensive, but in some low income neighborhoods -– at least in the Los Angeles market – what's going on outside the house makes Vice City look tame. If you ask me, that's a sad way for kids to grow up whether it's a real or CG world.

But the draw for games is that, unlike movies and even most DVDs, they have so many possible outcomes. It's cheap, repeatable entertainment that takes a lot longer than a movie to get stale because even though it's the same game, player behavior changes it each time.

Teen girls were also identified as an “underserved” game market. Jupiter's analyst found that girls play more video games than anyone suspected, and would play still more if the content was geared more to their tastes.

I'm a little afraid of what the game publishers will get out of that, although I take hope from a summit for female game developers held last year. I think the name of it was even “Beyond Breasts” or something like that, and the core topic was how female game developers are influencing the industry by creating things that appeal to more than pubescent male fantasies.

But I digress. The message for rentailers is to take a good look at your store's demographics and reevaluate whether it's time to get into game rentals or even sales. Come up with creative approaches to renting multiple titles so customers can try them out before buying.

I know from experience that most people with low incomes watch their pennies more closely than most folks who have plenty of money. The opportunity to try before buying is a good lure for the demographic that's most likely to spend a lot of time playing video games, if you believe the Jupiter study.

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