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 of technology and interactive storytelling has made playing video games an everyday aspect of many people's lives.
According to a recent 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 session at Licensing Leadership Summit in March, discussing his forthcoming presentation and his views on the evolving relationship between licensing and video games.
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 the Licensing Leadership Summit?
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.
To hear more from Petrovic and other licensing thought leaders, register to attend this year’s Licensing Leadership Summit, taking place on March 16 and 17, 2020, in New York City, New York. The re-imagined executive-level conference and networking event will present a comprehensive program that covers industry-focused topics shaping the licensing world.
The Licensing Leadership Summit is organized by the Global Licensing Group at Informa Markets, the organization behind leading trade shows Licensing Expo, Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo China and Licensing Expo Japan, as well as License Global.
Sponsors of Licensing Leadership Summit 2020 include JPatton, an industry leader in providing innovative, customized solutions that combine patented brand-protection products and services with unrivaled consumer engagement opportunities; Dependable Solutions, Inc., which delivers the latest financial management and creative approval systems and services to agents, licensors and licensees by experienced specialists who have licensing, creative and royalty backgrounds; Trevco, which helps materialize the brand vision of more than 800-plus licensed brands through the manufacturing and sales of licensed consumer products with a focus on apparel and accessories; and Future State Brands, a global consumer goods and marketing company with a mission to lead cannabis from the black market to the supermarket.