Definition: The rapid increase in the amount of a
WHAT CAUSES PROLIFERATION
If a product proves to be popular and successful then other products similar in
function, genre or style will be released in order to target a similar
Using downloads or streaming is far cheaper than physical distribution (no retail,
shipping or packaging costs) and enables institutions to target a global market
far easier. This encourages more and different types of companies
(independents, major studios) to produce more content.
The fact that nearly all digital products (tablets, smartphones, computers)
have very similar functions – specifically the ability to connect to the
internet and play various types of media (games, music, film) has two effects:
1) It allows for digital distribution (see above).
2) It creates a PROLIFERATION in platforms/hardware that can play ALL types of
It is because of technological convergence that your phone now plays games or
your games console plays films – when once there were only a few formats you
could play game/watch films on, now there are many.
EFFECTS OF PROLIFERATION - Hardware
Increases the numbers of potential
The proliferation of technologically converged hardware increases the size of the
potential market for media products. e.g. Due to the proliferation of
smartphones a huge number of consumers – who wouldn’t have bought a specific
games console – now play games.
Games developers have a choice of format
to create for
No hardware manufacturer has a monopoly on the market (Nintendo did have a
monopoly in the 80s and could dictate what games developer could and couldn’t
Audiences are fragmented and hard to
Institutions now have to cater for numerous ways of consumption or settle for
only a fraction of the potential audience. In the games industry this means
creating a version of your game for DS, 3DS, PC, PS3, 360, Mac, Ipad, Facebook,
Chrome, PS Vita, Wii, Wii U – which would be costly and time consuming. In the
film industry there is cinema, DVD, Blu-ray, downloads, streaming etc.
EFFECTS OF PROLIFERATION – Software
Promotion can become more important than
One way of standing out in a busy marketplace is spend more on advertising and
promotion. This could mean there is less to spend on production and potentially
the quality of the product is reduced.
More competition means pressure to sell
The pressure to sell could mean less innovation – don’t take risks, just give
consumers what they already like (more sequels, less creativity) or dubious
business practices (in-app-purchases/freemium targeted at children)
More competition drives down the price
This is better for consumers but for institutions this mean less profit which scares
of potential investment and businesses could fail.
At first would be good for the consumers, but too much choice can be confusing
and could cool consumers’ interest.
PROLIFERATION: Red Dead Redemption and Angry Birds
EFFECTS OF PROLIFERATION – Hardware
Only the PS3, 360 and high-spec PCs could manage to run Red Dead Redemption due to the open-world environment and HD
graphics, this means Rockstar’s target audience was reduced to just the owners
of these consoles and not everyone who plays games.
Rovio, however, due to the simplicity of Angry
Birds, have been able to create Angry Birds for all tablets, phones, mobile
game consoles allowing them to target a huge potential audience and achieve a
billion downloads. Initially the proliferation of the iPhone and iPad helped
their early success.
A userbase of 1 billion allows them to exploit the Freemium business model –
giving the game away for free, monetize a percentage of the userbase with
In-App-Purchases (e.g. Mighty Eagle 59p).
Keeping ahead of competition
Due to the success of Rockstar’s GTA series there was a proliferation of
open-world games set in cities (Prototype, Infamous, Saint’s Row, Sleeping Dogs
etc). To differentiate their games from the competition Rockstar were forced to
create deeper more detailed experiences: RDR
has countryside full of wildlife, GTA V has a far larger map than IV and much
more different landscapes. This means the quality of the product increases
(good for consumers), however, productions costs increase.
If production costs rise, the risk of creating games increases, which means
failure may cost a company dearly. US games company Midway recently went bust
when competing in the FPS market dominated by Call of Duty. Their game,
Homefront, cost £20 million to make and didn’t sell enough to make back the
If making game becomes riskier then companies will take less chances. Rather
than be creative and innovative, they will rely on established brands and
existing IP (films, superheroes, TV shows).
So proliferation increases competition that could
improve the quality of a product in the short term BUT in the long term may
have the opposite effect.
PROLIFERATION AND THE APP STORE (DIGITAL
As the App Store reduced the barriers of entry into the games world (no
physical distribution costs, 70/30 split with Apple) a huge amount of
publisher/institutions/developer began creating content.
In Autumn 2008 the App Store reached the milestone of 10,000 apps.
Today (08/05/13) there are 867,530 apps available from a total of 229,094
The biggest category of App in Games with 145,078 games available and Apple
receiving 81 submissions to the App store every day.
Here's an article on the nature of the app business world and some of reasons behind proliferation.
The problem for developers/institutions
Due to competition to be successful you have to be Free and exploit using the
Freemium business model.
But Freemium only works if you have
a large userbase.
To create a large userbase means promoting your game to get users.
But as there’s no revenue coming in
(as the game is free) this will need investment and there’s no guarantee the
product will be successful.
The best way to attract consumers is to get on the ‘Top’ Lists as that is where
most users look for content.
But getting on the ‘Top’ list
requires users to download the product.
So how did Angry Birds become successful?
When Angry Birds was released in
Dec 2009 there were 36,356 other games to compete against. Rather spending a
lot on advertising, Rovio used PR (press relations) to get key websites and
games forums talking about the game. This is a time consuming strategy
especially as Rovio did it territory by territory, but they knew that once the right
people played Angry Birds, due to the quality of the game they would begin
talking about it.
The strategy worked: first it was a hit in Finland, then Sweden, then when it
was a success in the UK Apple took notice and featured it on the App Store. To
capitalize on this exposure Rovio created a Youtube animation of the characters
and achieved both synergy (the App store feature and video combining to
increase exposure) and the promotion of the game going viral (spread by
existing social networks).
Once it was established in the ‘Top’ lists the success gathered its own
momentum (consumer download apps in the charts which keep them in the charts). Rovio
then ensured the game was talked about by releasing new products (Halloween, Rio versions) and achieving synergy by
producing numerous type of Angry Bird product (25,000 and rising).
WARNING FROM HISTORY -
US GAMES CRASH OF 1983
In 1983 the US games industry was worth $3.2
30 new companies entered the games market -
there were 12 consoles to choose from.
This proliferation drove down price and drove
down quality - big losses were made, investment dried up.
1985 the US games industry was worth $100
million and was declared official dead by some analysts.
Search for ‘All Your History: The Video Game
Crash of 1983’ on Youtube for full story.
ALL THIS IS USEFUL IF PROLIFERATION COMES UP IN THE QUESTION. BUT YOU CAN ALSO
MENTION PROLIFERATION IF A QUESTION ON (DIGITAL) DISTRIBUTION OR TECHNOLOGICAL
CONVERGENCE COMES UP.