From games developed specifically for mobile platforms, to games developed for gaming consoles and PC’s – the gaming industry is huge. In fact, it’s one of the biggest markets in the world. The global earnings of the gaming industry are estimated to be around £80 billion and, in the UK alone, the gaming industry is worth a reported £4.2 billion.
When a game is developed, we’re usually introduced to a lot of marketing hype which promotes the game prior to its release to generate interest in the game so when the game is released, it’s already received plenty of pre-orders and players will (hopefully) queue up at stores across the world on release day to purchase their own copy.
What many people don’t realise, however, is that it’s not just the copies of the games which help the producers to generate income. If you look at some of the biggest games resellers in the UK, they don’t just sell the game, they also sell T-Shirts, toys, memorabilia and much more which make up a huge chunk of the revenue earned through game releases.
What’s more, fans love merch. Just like a football fan will wear a T-Shirt to show off their favourite team, a gamer will happily wear a T-Shirt showing their favourite game, or a game they’re currently playing (providing that they like the game of course!).
With such a huge sector which has a massive fanbase, it’s only natural that there are also events held around the world which have started to sprout and grow in popularity., Some of these events are organised by huge corporations who aim to show off a host of different products or games which are to be released under their name (this also includes promotional merchandise), while other events are aimed at being more educational and are designed to help those who are looking to get involved in game development.
There is one thing that’s for certain, though, the UK gaming merchandise market is lagging behind our American cousins.
In a recent interview, former Ubisoft licensing head – Rob Stevenson – said that the UK games market needs to “do more” if it wants to build a sizable merchandise market.
“The UK merchandise market is a nascent and growing market. Generally, it’s up but it has its moments when it seems to not perform as well as it should. It’s still trying to find out where the right price point is, where are the best products, what do people want, and it’s still very much a learning curve for everybody, retailers, suppliers and manufacturers.”
He also went on to add:
“An educational job has to be done by the industry to explain the value of gaming. There’s still an old school perception of what a game actually is, they don’t see it as a brand, they just see it as a game. Whereas Star Wars, they would see as a brand. Specialist retailers are very much learning about the opportunity of merchandise.”
So, what does this mean?
Well, firstly means that there’s a huge gap in the UK gaming industry to produce printed merchandise for your fans. It also means that there’s a brilliant way to raise additional revenue for your company based on every game that you create and release.
So, the important question is what merchandise would your fans love?
The obvious answer to this is printed clothing, from printed T-Shirts right up to custom hoodies and even embroidered headwear are all popular choices when you’re creating printed merchandise. The easiest way to do this is to create printed T-Shirts with the main hero of your game on the front.
Getting custom merchandise is popular for games across all gaming platforms, whether you’re developing a game for an Android device, or if you’re creating a game which is going to be played on a next-gen console such as a PS4 or XBox One.
One brilliant example of this is the explosion we’ve seen when it comes to smartphone games and the merchandise which is sold around this. We’ve seen more and more developers taking advantage of the revenue which printed merchandise can bring.
For example, the popular smartphone game, Angry Birds, achieved huge success as a game, but to create more revenue we’ve seen the company behind the game create their own printed merchandise, from toys, to backpacks, to custom clothing – this has created a huge additional revenue stream to the developers business.
So, if you’re a developer or a company which develops the games and you haven’t thought about adding printed merchandise to your existing lineup – maybe 2016 (or the next game you develop) is the perfect time to start.