Monday, August 20, 2007

Winner Take All

With GenCon now in the rear view mirror, I had the good fortune to run into some old friends from Wizards in the lobby of my hotel. Not so surprisingly, talk quickly turned to games, gaming, and the games industry. This is the conclusion I came to following our discussion.

The games industry is a Winner Take All industry. Unless a company or product breaks the mold in a major way, it's also a zero-sum industry. Taken with my theory of Viral, Hardcore, Vanish, this means in order to go viral, and reap the rewards that come with viral success, you have to generate a new sort of game/category (and new audience), or you have to knock another game out of it's place at the top of the pile.

There is no room for another Fantasy TCG, unless Magic goes away.
There's no room for another Kids Anime TCG, unless Pokemon goes away.
There might be room for a non-kids Anime TCG.
There's no room for another plastic miniatures game, unless Clix goes away (which it might.)

And so on.

See how kids anime and adult anime fall into two different categories. That's important. The smaller the slice of category pie, the more chance to you have to gain traction and become the Winner-Take-All success of that more specialized category. Unfortunately, the category has to be small enough that you can dominate it, but also large enough that domination results in your game's success. It's a particularly tricky piece of the puzzle of success. If you create a new, smaller category, but aren't brining new people into the zero-sum equation, your success will still be limited to the number of people you can convert from other products.

While working at the Bella Sara booth, it was so clear. We were the only stop for girls at the whole show. The only question was whether there would be enough girls (or people who had girls in their lives) to make the show worth it. It was. Every other booth in the hall had competitors, except us. Blue ocean, smooth sailing.

Viral, Hardcore, Vanish
Winner Take All (for Viral success)


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