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January 10, 2024
With the start of 2024 comes the realization of the Global Licensing Group’s theme for the year, Brands at Play. We celebrate the categories fueling play across the brand licensing and extension industry, from gaming to toys and sports, and the patterns that dictate how we connect regardless of demographic.
This month, we turn our gaze to gaming, the industry charting monumental leaps year-on-year across brand engagement, time spent, fandom and global audience growth.
To understand the future of gaming, we only need to look at how many significant milestone moments landed in 2023. The launch of the Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer – a game set to release in 2025 – broke the internet. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard – one of the most divisive and essential business mergers of modern times – received the all-clear from global governmental bodies. The metaverse became one of the most discussed platforms in licensing history as professionals everywhere sought out the burgeoning opportunities of virtual engagement. Moments outside of the everyday play that gaming provides millions worldwide displayed just how important the world considers the medium to be.
Within the gaming market, the humble fighting game returned to form with “Mortal Kombat,” “Street Fighter” and the pending return of “Tekken.” Horror-driven titles and franchises continued to launch to high acclaim, with “Resident Evil 2” and “Alan Wake 2” driving huge fan revivals. Adaptations made it to major motion pictures and broke the once-famous curse, with “Super Mario Bros. The Movie” and “The Last of Us” each breaking ground across movie and television. Collaborations highlighted flawless creativity across nostalgia titles from SEGA to Bandai Namco. Roblox became one of the most important collaborative platforms since “Fortnite” struck its first deal. “PUBG” and “Among Us” were just a few titles behind the monumental rise of mobile gaming, which is predicted to reach a global revenue of $98.7 billion in 2024 according to Statista.
In short, 2023 became a significant moment for the gaming market and has given the industry the authority to be more creative, build new moments for fan-favorite franchises and keep us engaged for countless hours still.
So, given what we know about 2023, how will 2024 differ? Trends often expedite with increased player engagement, but trends that move through the years and become more concentrated are the ones brands need to be aware of. Intellectual property is one of the most crucial factors in the gaming business today, be it brand-new stories and characters that engage a global player base or beloved franchises with fanbases of millions.
Because of this, we are keeping our eye out for a continued trend of studio acquisitions. The acquisitions will be slightly different from the explosive merger rate of 2023, which saw several brands and intellectual properties brought under the roof of companies such as Microsoft and Embracer, but a steady demand for intellectual property, nonetheless.
Nostalgia gaming will continue to rise as the mobile market increases pace. With a lower technological requirement to run and an increase in subscription-style cloud gaming, nostalgia gaming is more accessible than ever, be it through the Nintendo Switch – where players can access everything from the Gameboy to Nintendo 64 – and mobile games that work with classic properties to bring iconic titles to casual players. Nostalgia gaming is also driven by a broader interest in nostalgia gaming worldwide, from the first official completion of “Tetris” last year to entire communities celebrating old video game titles.
Mobile gaming dominated the market in 2023, reports Newzoo, with brands like Apple, Sony and Tencent leading the charge as the official count of gamers worldwide rose to 3.38 billion.
Time spent is also another crucial piece in the video game market, with gaming titles garnering anything from double to 100 times the time spent on any television show or movie in its lifespan. While no official data forecast the rise or fall of time spent, yet, this factor makes video game brands so powerful when building fanbases and, therefore, building collaborations dedicated to those fans in the market.
With an eye on trends in the video game space, we are celebrating the titles set to arrive in 2024 that prove not only the rule of intellectual property’s importance in gaming but also the role of licensing in significant video game moments, from new launches to fan-focused collaborations and capsule collections.
“Tekken 8” will no doubt continue reviving the great and humble fighting game. From the infuriating combos of Eddy Gordo, to the button-mashing chaos of Yoshimitsu and the confusing backstory of King, the “Tekken” franchise has grown over the last 30 years by placing itself firmly in the core memories of millions.
Following a successful anime adaptation, Bandai Namco is gearing up to launch “Tekken 8” on Jan. 29. The latest edition of the fighting game brings new names and iconic characters back to the “Iron Fist Tournament” for fans to engage with once more. As the gaming ecosystem grows, the opportunities for brand engagement, esports tournaments, streaming, licensed goods and non-stop single-player engagement are high.
Watch our exclusive interview with Aadil Tayouga of Bandai Namco at Brand Licensing Europe 2023 to learn more about the developer’s 2024 titles.
“Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League”
Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Games are building on the highly successful “Batman: Arkham” series with the fifth installment from the DC Universe. This edition, however, features a shift in focus from the Dark Knight to Gotham’s most wanted, The Suicide Squad.
Coming Jan. 30, “Suicide Squad Kills the Justice League” takes the popular cinematic universe of “Suicide Squad” (2016) and “The Suicide Squad” (2021) and adds a new immersive experience by placing players into a co-operative gameplay mechanic, pitting King Shark, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and Deadshot against the Justice League.
“Star Wars: Outlaws”
Planned for release this year, the “original scoundrel story” of “Star Wars: Outlaws” is an action-adventure game developed by Massive Entertainment (“Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora” and “The Division 2”) and published by Ubisoft (“Assassin’s Creed”) with license from Lucasfilm Games. Set between the events of “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983), players can explore numerous worlds through the eyes of rebel and rogue, Kay Vess. Given the astronomical success of “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” and “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor,” “Outlaws” looks to be a continuation of the fan-driven experiences of exploring a universe inspired by the original “Star Wars” trilogy.
“Final Fantasy VII Rebirth”
The second in a planned trilogy of remakes, Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy VII Rebirth” takes the groundbreaking gameplay experience of “Final Fantasy VII” (1997) and transforms it through next-generation graphics and deeper, more immersive storytelling.
The fanbase surrounding the Final Fantasy franchise is loyal and steeped in history, and, given the trilogy of remakes currently in production and readying for launch, this new era for the franchise is serving existing fans while creating on-ramps for new audiences. Coming Feb. 29, “Final Fantasy Rebirth” adds to the 16-game portfolio in the franchise and continues to drive global engagement from fans of all ages.
The video game market is a behemoth of immersive storytelling, fan-driven franchises and extended brand engagement. It is also a market filled with increasingly creative opportunities for in-game, on-shelf and “phygital” extensions. The titles drive the market, the fans naturally follow and brands go where the fans are.
Some of our favorite moments in the gaming market came in 2023, from “LEGO Fortnite” and “Bluey: The Video Game” to the expertly crafted SEGA collabs and countless in-game launches of “Call of Duty,” “Fall Guys,” “Fortnite” and more.
For 2024, License Global will be keeping watch over the gaming market as we continue to celebrate Brands at Play and bring the brand licensing business the very latest opportunities, titles and inspirational products emerging across the gaming world.
Read more about:Rocksteady StudiosBandaiBandai Namco EntertainmentFinal FantasyUbisoftGlobalLicense Global OriginalBrands at PlayFebruary 2024
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