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10 Mins with… Zynga’s Chris Petrovic

Chris Petrovic of Zynga details the growing relationship between video games and licensing in our far-reaching interview with the industry executive.

Video games have become a leading entertainment medium across the globe. From the early days of "Pac-Man" to the modern-day shooters of "Call of Duty," the marriage between technology and interactive storytelling has made playing video games an everyday aspect of many people's lives. 

According to a report from Limelight Networks, gamers play more than seven hours of video games per week. The amount of time spent playing games means today's consumers have a deep connection to video game brands and developers' deep well of IP. 

We spoke with Chris Petrovic, senior vice president and head, corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions and business development, Zynga, to better understand how licensing industry players can best leverage video game brands for consumer products. Petrovic spoke with License Global ahead of his upcoming engagement at Licensing Leadership Summit at the Festival of Licensing

 

License Global: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in the licensing business over the last five years?

Petrovic: In my experience, the biggest change has been the sheer volume of brands that have ventured into video games. This is understandable given that it’s the largest entertainment category in the world, bigger than movies and TV combined, generating approximately $149 billion in 2019 alone, according to Newzoo

This raises some interesting challenges for game developers, who need to create great gaming experiences that work organically with brands. You can’t depend on the strength of the brand alone to make a successful game.

What is the biggest trend or industry disruption that you see on the horizon that not enough people are talking about?

Whether you’re in video games or any other entertainment category, the key to staying in lock step with the market is to have a solid understanding of what your customers want. As with books, music, TV and movies, consumers increasingly expect to be able to play the same game across a variety of devices and platforms – smartphones and tablets, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox and PlayStation. 

Recently, we saw this effect with “Fortnite,” where one game has, in part, become a cultural phenomenon through its accessibility across all of these platforms. With the ongoing developments in technologies, such as 5G and streaming, we are only going to see this consumer expectation accelerate.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning of your career?

Ha! So many pieces of advice to give to my younger professional self! One thing that comes to mind is to resist the urge to take the first job that is offered to you and instead hold out for the right job that excites you.

What makes a successful licensing deal in the gaming vertical?

It really comes down to one fundamental premise – partnership. Both sides have to be willing to behave as partners given all that goes into both the game development side and licensor management side of the process.

I’ve seen too many examples of licensors who were just in the deal for the quick buck, and too many developers who saw licensors as nothing more than passive rights owners who had no business getting involved in their creative processes. Without a partnership mentality, you are doomed to fail.

What are you hoping people will gain from your talk at Licensing Leadership Summit at the Festival of Licensing?

My hope is that licensors will gain a better understanding of what it takes to successfully collaborate and work with video game developers given the complex nature of the gaming landscape. 

 

Licensing Leadership Summit is a virtual global conference that brings together C-level executives from the world’s largest players across manufacturing, retail and brands to discuss, debate and collaborate on the future of brand licensing. The conference will take place on Oct. 28-29.

Register for the Summit now! The conference is a part of Festival of Licensing, a month-long large-scale digital gathering that unites the global licensing industry to connect, learn, strike deals and do business on an international stage. The event takes place Oct. 6-29. Register for free now!

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