Europeans are known for their appreciation of everyday life…

[Disclaimer: this isn’t really anything to do with Warhammer Online at all, just saw it and felt the need to make a quick comment and to share it with all of you, whether Euro or US!]

Across the pond, consumers prefer racing and soccer games to blockbuster action, adventure and first-person shooter games that are the staple of the U.S. diet. Indeed, Europeans view such games as “evil,” says Cevat Yerli, chief executive of Crytek, a German game developer that specializes in first-person shooters.

Can you tell where this is going? And this wasn’t even said by some really obscure source. Nope, these are pretty much the opening words from a blog piece on Forbes.com about the European console game market and European gamers. Yes, they lump us all in together and comment that:

Europeans like short, so-called casual games, rather than the long, epic tales that keep gamers pounding on their consoles for hours at a stretch. Casual games also fit the European lifestyle better: People can play these short games on trains and subways on their way to work.

The first thing to note is that the article is about console gaming. It takes the top 10 games in terms of sales figures across the UK, France and Germany and extrapolates what they mean for the whole European gaming market. For the record, the 2007 top ten was apparently:

  1. Brain Training
  2. FIFA 2008
  3. Wii Play
  4. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008
  5. New Super Mario Bros
  6. Need for Speed Pro Street
  7. Assassins Creed
  8. Call of Duty 4
  9. Big Brain Academy
  10. The Simpsons Game

Wii Play makes the list despite an apparent market share of 7% for the Wii, though they do mention it was probably for the free controller (we’re canny consumers, at least!). Assassins Creed apparently only made no.9 on the US list, but, and you’ll like this…

One guess is that the game takes place in the Holy Land during the Crusades–a bit of history more relevant to Europeans than to Americans

Come on, that’s actually quite funny! But Forbes.com didn’t mean it to be. It’s also impressive because it manages to insult both Europeans and Americans (as spinks put it to me just now ‘who isn’t interested in assassins, Templars and Crusaders???!’)

The article concludes that much of Europe is an untapped market that likes different games and has older consoles that our US counterparts. Probably true. It highlights that mainstream titles tend to sell well, but uses the same data to indicate some sort of dislike of other games.

I was a little surprised by the extrapolations included, maybe because I expected more of Forbes.com. I was also surprised not to see any mention at all of PC games, not even in passing. The console market may be bigger, but it’s never the whole picture.

I actually laughed when I read the initial blog, I laughed at The Guardian reaction to the blog. And then I almost fell off my chair at the bit about Assassins Creed, so I thought I’d share.

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3 Responses

  1. I think this is really interesting. Especially the question of how much of the differences in the charts are due to actual cultural differences (like, in europe we use more public transport so DS type consoles see more use), pricing differences (they gouge us here) or maybe different attitudes to violence. And how much really is just lack of market penetration.

    I know that football sim games usually do top the PC chart here.

  2. I think there is the potential for this to have been interesting, but they draw some very bizarre conclusions from some good data and then end up telling games companies they should hit the untapped market in Europe (in case they didn’t know that already).

    Plus, GTA IV did pretty well if we hate violence!

  3. Yes there are some very odd conclusions, but I think, on the whole they did get it right. I live in England, and of all my friends, most are gamers, but most are casual. They play, maybe only with others, not online, but mainly split-screen stuff. The exception to the rule however is GTA IV, I think that’s due to its pick-up put-down playability. Me and my more ‘hardcore’ friends probably have tastes in games similar to what they brand the ‘USA style’ but I think in reality, both areas have both types of players, although maybe the USA has more who drift into the hardcore realm, but at the same time with more people who don’t game at all than Europe.

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