Last week, I got an email about Fortnite from my kid’s school. Apparently the game breaks any number of rules for the little ones in terms of violence, social media networking, and more. My kid is pretty young, so I understand their concerns. The email inspired me to do some research into that game and others, and I was blown away by just how big the gaming industry has become.
In the 1980s, the music industry earned more top-line revenue than Hollywood feature films. With the rise of indie films in the 1990s and the failing of the music industry’s banker-style business model, Hollywood took over the top spot on the entertainment food chain. Today, there’s no question who the king of the entertainment hill is: video games. The gaming industry is easily outpacing both Hollywood movies and the music industry in 2018, and one of the most obvious examples is Fortnite–which is a “free” video game that is reportedly a blend of Hunger Games and Survivor that can be played online through a variety of platforms. While the game itself is free, if you want goodies to make your journey more fun/easy/whatever, you need to pay. Basically, you can buy dance moves, tools, and so much more. The more you spend, the easier it is to have a higher-level ranking during the 10-week season. Last month Fortnite did a reported $126,000,000 in sales. Those kinds of numbers must make every Hollywood executive wonder why they pay $20,000,000 upfront to A-list movie stars–I mean, we’re talking about a game loaded with animated characters who kids control en route to a Lord of the Flies end game. This is a level of profitability that nobody in this town has ever dreamed of.
Need more examples? Grand Theft Auto V has sold more than 90,000,000 copies and costs far more money than any CD, DVD, BD, or Ultra HD BD–making it the number one best-selling video game in the U.S. in 2017. Minecraft has sold 144,000,000 copies total. Age-old Tetris has sold over 170,000,000 copies since the 1980s. Needless to say, video games speak to the masses and have the ability to pull hard-earned dollars from the pockets of a newer, younger demographic in ways that we’ve never seen before.
This brings me to my question: how many specialty AV dealers have embraced the gaming industry? I saw zero UHD Blu-ray demos at the recent AXPONA show. In fact, I only saw video in two booths: Sony and HSU Research. There were certainly no gaming consoles in action, yet I saw many 70-year-olds treating vinyl like it’s the only route to audio nirvana. When confronted with the mathematical downside of the format (a maximum dynamic range of 65 dB, high distortion from the vibration of the stylus in a groove, and waning sales), these true believers and the executives who cater to them cover their ears and refuse to listen. They wouldn’t know profit and sales volume if they got run over by a truck in Grand Theft Auto V or had their asses kicked in the latest episode of Fortnite.
If you are a brick-and-mortar AV dealer, can I give you some free advice? Plug in a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X gaming console–not just to show off what UHD content can look like, but to attract the kids who represent your next generation of clients. Because if you think you can make a living selling my parents’ generation more $10,000 preamps, $20,000 tube amps, and $30,000 speakers, you are destined to fail. There is big money being spent out there. Near my house here in West Los Angeles, gaming studios are opening Hollywood-like campuses that are devoted to finding the next hot title and concept. Why not show off this red-hot content on a 77-inch OLED UHD TV? Why not use the game platforms to show how object-based surround sound can give gamers an experience that is worthy of their entertainment dollars?
Best Buy sells gaming systems and software, but it doesn’t offer meaningful demos that show how you can merge gaming and high-performance AV. Magnolia is even further behind. Shouldn’t the brick-and-mortar stores exploit this opportunity to sell high-resolution audio, UHD video, and all of the associated goodies to an audience who has without question proven that they can and do spend more money than all of music and movie enthusiasts combined?
• Xbox One X Gaming Console Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• What Can the Music Industry Learn From Dropmix? at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Apple TV 4K Streaming Media Player Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.