Definition: The rapid increase in the amount of a product.

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 audience.

Digital distribution
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.

Technological convergence
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 media.
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. 

Increases the numbers of potential consumers
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 do).

Audiences are fragmented and hard to target
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.

Promotion can become more important than product
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.

More choice
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


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 initial investment.

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.

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 active publishers/developers.
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).

In 1983 the US games industry was worth $3.2 billion dollars.
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.





Last minute reading about Industry issue - NOT essential

Here are some articles about the games industry that you MIGHT want to read to get your mind working for the exam.

Don't feel you have to read any of them as I'm sure you've enough to get through - but they're here if you want.


Media Ownership
Who owns what parts of the process (Production, Marketing, Distribution, Exchange) and if they own it they can usually make money from it. So this could be IP, brands, distributions methods (shops, retails), game engines, technology, consoles etc. It also leads really easily into the first definition of Media Convergence (see below).

A rapid increase in the number of a certain type of product.

Use: 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 active publishers/developers.

Technological convergence
Technological convergence is the tendency for different technological systems to evolve toward performing similar tasks. This is possible as more and more products comprising of more and more technologies.

Use: The PlayStation3 is an example of technological convergence as it is machine that not only plays game, but can be used to watch Blu-Rays, surf the internet and organise and display digital content such as photos and music.

Media Convergence (Cross) (two ways of looking at it)
“The ‘coming together’ of previously separate industries which increasingly use the same or related technology and skilled workers. A feature of the contemporary media environment, convergence is a product of mergers between companies in different. (Branston and Stafford 2010)”
Use: Warner Bros. Interactive is part of WB Home Entertainment which is turn part of Time Warner. So Time Warner is a company that produces films, games, comics, magazines, online content. There are both advantages (synergy) and disadvantages (overheads, multiple deadlines, conflicting interests) to this situation.

Convergence Culture (Jenkins)
When old and new media intersect in such a way that the way in media producers and media consumers interact changes.
Use: The consumption of RDR is a good example of media convergence as consumers have used both old and new media to alter the way in which they experience the game. For instance RDR fans have used the internet to create fansites and communities to share tips, stories and experiences about the game. They have also developed their own modifications and shared them over the internet.

Definition: The interaction of two or more agents to ensure a larger effect than if they acted independently.

Use: Rockstar used synergy in their marketing by timing the release of the first trailer to coincide with the release the first RDR magazine preview which was in the US games magazine Game Informer.

Viral Marketing
Definition: A marketing technique aiming at reproducing "word of mouth", usually on the internet and through existing social networks.

Use: Rockstar used viral marketing to increase awareness of RDR by creating a Facebook App Gunslingers in the hope that users would share the experience with their social network.

Guerilla Marketing
Definition: The use of unconventional and low cost marketing strategies to raise awareness of a product.

Use: To promote GTA 4, Rockstar used Guerilla marketing, putting up ‘wanted posters’ over New York, stickers up on notice boards and commissioning works of graffiti that featured characters from the game.

Vertical Integration
Definition: Absorption into a single firm of several firms involved in all aspects of a product's manufacture from raw materials to distribution.

Use: Rockstar Games have become a vertically integrated company by buying developers they have previously worked with, such as DMA Design who became Rockstar North and Angel Studios who became Rockstar San Diego. By doing this Rockstar have control over development, funding and marketing of their products.

Third Party Game
A game made by a company that is completely independent from the manufacturers of the console that the game is played on.

Second Party Game
A game created exclusively for a specific console through a contract agreement with the console manufacturer. (The console manufacturer may own a percentage of the studio, but not enough to give it a controlling interest.)

First Party Game
A game created by the console manufacturers themselves or by a developer in which the console manufacturer has a controlling interest (over 51% of shares).

Game Engine
A game engine is a software system designed for the creation and development games.

The software developers who create the game.

The company that funds, market and distribute games that they have developed internally or have commissioned or acquired from an independent games developer. (NB even though most publishers also develop games as well, they are referred to as ‘publishers’ to differentiate them from the companies that just develop games.)

Derived from the words ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’, Machinima is art of filmmaking created by using real-time recording of computer games, virtual worlds or any already-existing 3D digital worlds.

Modding is a slang expression that is derived from the word "modify” and refers to the act of modifying a game to perform a function or to include content not originally conceived or intended by the designer, and then usually shared via the internet.

Sandbox Game
A game that allows the gamer to ignore the main objectives of the game (usually the Story Mission) and engage in other non-goal orientate activities.

Past Questions

Past Questions G322

How important is technological convergence for institutions and audiences within a media area which you have studied?

Discuss the ways in which the media products are produced and distributed to audiences, within a media area, which you have studied.

“Media production is dominated by global institutions, which sell their products and services to national audiences.” To what extent to you agree with this statement?

What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?

Discuss the issues raised in the production and exchange of media texts in your chosen media area.

“Successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices.” To what extend would you agree with this statement, within the media area you have studied?

To what extent does distribution affect the marketing and consumption of media products in the media area you have studied.

Discuss the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in the distribution and marketing of media products in the media area you have studied.

Discuss the issues raised by media ownership upon the diversity of media products and services available to audiences in the contemporary media area you have studied.