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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Game publishers, in a rare moment of solidarity, joined forces on Wednesday to convey optimism for the future of their $30 billion industry despite spiraling consumer spending and a.
, and -- with Activision the sole profit-maker in its last reported quarter -- hope to focus on developing mainly blockbuster titles while finding ways to eliminate costs.
A year-long recession has slowed sales growth. Research house NPD estimates spending on U.S. videogames dived 17 percent in April. With top titles often costing as much to produce as a Hollywood film, publishers have had to make tough choices.
After a wave of belt-tightening in the past year, including widespread job cuts, studio closings and title cancellations, many now adopt a strategy of diverting resources to only their most bankable franchises.
"Our actual net development budget has been significantly reduced this year to $120 million ... but its focus is on a few of these quality titles," THQ CEO Brian Farrell told Reuters.
Executives see glimmers of hope in new audiences and more casual users, expanding beyond the industry's traditionally heavily male demographic to women and older people.
Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello sees 1 billion from just a few hundred million now.
Crucial to that vast expansion will be games that appeal not just to the hard-core, but also to families andcasual gamers, as exemplified by the enormous take-up of Nintendo's Wii and its best-selling fitness title.