2010 promises more titles for core gamers

Thu Jan 7, 2010 7:28am EST
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By John Gaudiosi

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - With a new year ahead, video game publishers are returning to their roots and core gamers to maintain sales at a time when a contraction in the industry is expected to mean fewer overall new releases.

Mainstream audiences are expected to flock to upcoming big titles like Sony's "God of War 3," Take-Two Interactive's "Mafia 2," and Electronic Arts' "Mass Effect 2" but the game industry is working to make sure its biggest supporters, core gamers, are happy.

"2010 looks to be a good year for core gamers with a steady stream of titles like THQ's "Darksiders," Sega's "Bayonetta" and Electronic Arts' "Army of Two: The 40th Day," said John Taylor, videogame analyst for Arcadia Research Corporation.

In 2009, many game makers focused on mainstream and casual gamers with titles like MTV Games' "The Beatles: Rock Band" and Ubisoft's "Your Shape" exercise game for Wii -- games and consoles which many hardcore gamers shun.

But after three years of strong sales, Nintendo's Wii hardware sales have slowed and the music video game genre, while still viable, is no longer a key sales driver.

Michael Pachter, videogame analyst for Wedbush Securities, said video game hardware and software sales totaled about $16.8 billion in 2009, down 18 percent from $19.5 billion in 2008.

Despite the record-setting launch of Activision's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," which accounted for over $550 million in its first week alone, game software sales were down 11 percent in 2009 to around $10.5 billion.

GAMES TO BE SALES DRIVER IN 2010   Continued...

<p>A boy plays Nintendo Co's Wii game console at a Yamada Denki electronics retail store in Tokyo January 5, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>