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Are Games the New Ultimate Film Merchandise?

Making hit films is not a cheap pursuit. From the equipment to travel costs, editing, staff, effects, and stars, it’s no surprise that bigger operations can easily run their costs into the millions. The basic idea for cinema releases is that they manage to make their money back on ticket sales, but the reality is much more complicated.

Today, the success of a film is not just measured in box-office performance, but rather in how well it performs on the home entertainment market. This isn’t just directly, either, as a huge proportion of a product’s revenue can come from the merchandise.

The most obvious example of this is Star Wars. As one of the biggest film franchises in history, the Star Wars film series has so far grossed over $9.3 billion. Greater merchandising, on the other hand, has netted the rights holders over $32 billion. As it so happens, video games accounted for $6.6 billion of this, over two-thirds of gross film earnings.

So what is it that makes us so confident that video games stand as such an important part of this equation going forward?

The first element comes from the growing market of video games and the increasing ubiquity which they have in modern lives. As a whole, video games are now worth considerably more than even the film box office.

This isn’t an isolated event either, as trends have shown all forms of gaming gaining steam over the recent decades.

Just as have toys have diversified, so too has gaming into new and equally successful projects. Online casinos, for example, now commonly involve interpretation of film properties. These typically lend themselves well to slots, as the Naked Gun slots have done as one of the many in the Jackpot King section of Paddy Power. Even more so than traditional toys, the strength here works in versatility.

This versatility is expanded upon in how video games give players an alternative take or way to view a film’s world or universe. Again to fall back on the Star Wars example, those interested in this far, far away galaxy have been able to engage far more deeply with gaming than with traditional merchandise.

With many games being accepted within the official canon, these give us a way to expand on ideas, concepts, places, and people only mentioned in passing within the main films.

This also aided in generating a sort of feedback effect. Somebody who has grown closer to the universe through games is more likely to look forward to the upcoming films. In turn, watching another film gives gaming developers further paths for exploration and elucidation.

As each new generation finds gaming an increasingly easy arena in which to engage, player-bases are only going to further expand. Helped by multiplayer online connectivity and newer creations such as virtual and augmented reality, players are consistently guided to new avenues of interaction and involvement.

While we’ll still inevitably see duds as we had with E.T The Extra-Terrestrial all those years ago, at least we can sit happily that this industry is edging towards a quality-first approach. Games owe a lot to films, and now, as they prove themselves as merchandise, films are starting to owe a lot to games too.

What are your favourite video games based on movies?

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