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Global Gaming and a Global Game Industry: International and Methodological Perspectives on Digital Distribution in PC-Gaming
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The game industry has gone through a change in structures over the past few years. Many new technological innovations and business models have been introduced an affected the game market (Baumane-Vitolina and Apsite 2013, White and Searle 2013, Hotho 2013). Digital distribution seems to be particular important. International service that sells and distribute games digitally did not exist only 8-10 years ago. New genres of games have emerged and game developers don’t need to go via a publishing company to enter the market. 

The development seems to have created somewhat of a new genesis for PC-gaming. New services like Steam, and Origin have made computer gaming much more accessible. Consumers gain easy access to a wide range of computer games, and developers gain an infrastructures on which to market and push updates of their software to consumers. This infrastructure has propelled the success of PC specific game genres and games like DOTA 2, LOL, World of tanks, CS:GO and Hearthstone. Distribution platforms seem to have transformed the PC-market from a niche to a mainstream game market. This development can also in turn be connected to the development of new supporting industries e.g. e-sports and streaming. The result is a new wave of globalisation of gaming culture. 

In this paper we will study the PC-game market and digital distribution from a quantitative international perspective. Rather little is known about these platforms from an economic and user perspective. Game research has been characterized by the lack of solid data regarding the users, sales and importance of different markets (White and Searle 2013). Game companies are often very secretive about their data. Game researchers have been forced to use case studies and the available quantitative data have come from sources that are hard to verify: consultant reports or industry associations. As a result it is fairly uncommon to make international studies or apply a comparative approach. 

We have collected data systematically from the distribution platform Steam since late 2015. The data contains daily per-country traffic and data-transfer speeds from the platform. Using this as a proxy of the platform’s usage, we are able to make concrete statements on both the use of gaming-services in different localities, and on the methodological problems and opportunities related to the analysis of this kind of data. Preliminary results reveal cyclic trends, international differences, and correlation with some key macro-economic indicators, such as GDP per capita. We hope to make a contribution to comparative game research and add some insight to the methodological difficulties that this type of data contains. It is also our intention to continue the data collection over several years in order to generate a larger longitudinal database that can be made publicly available to other researchers. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126930OAI: diva2:1040043
Central and Eastern European Game Studies Conference (CEEGS), Lublin, 20-22 October 2016


Baumane-Vitolina, I. and Apsite, A. (2013). “Social Network Gaming Industry – is it the Future or Already the Past of the Information Technology Sector?”. Humanities and social sciences Latvia 2013(2). 

Hotho, S. (2013). Some Companies Are Fine. One Day and Gone the Next. in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. (Eds). Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan. 

White, G and Searle, N. (2013). Commercial Business Models for a Fast Changing Industry in Hotho, S. and McGregor, N. Reds. Changing the Rules of the Game. Palgrave Macmillan.

Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-23 Last updated: 2016-10-26

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