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Games should sell more - Cohen

Jerry Bruckheimer Games exec says industry should "think bigger"

Videogames should be selling more units, according to Jay Cohen, president of development for Jerry Bruckheimer Games - a company which he describes as a "game incubation studio."

Speaking in his keynote during the Game Business Law summit at Southern Methodist University, he expressed his belief that the industry needs to "think bigger" in terms of who it is appealing to, and not simply spend large amounts of money communicating to the same core audience.

"I wanted to address the new dynamics we were seeing in the business," he told the audience, made up mostly of attorneys and game executives, pondering the question: "How do we sell and reach more of an audience with our product?"

For him, the success that games are currently seeing on average doesn't fall in line with the increasing hardware installed base, an issue which he feels Jerry Bruckheimer Games is well positioned to address.

"Thirty, forty, fifty million per platform - but we were slapping ourselves on the back for selling one or two million copies of a game!" he exclaimed, referring to his time spent as a publishing executive at Ubisoft as the company grew revenues from $1 million to $1 billion in 13 years.

"The installed base of consoles is going at a healthy pace," he added, "Yet the sales of packaged goods hasn't kept up" - although he does believe that hardware has won over the mainstream.

"Installed bases are going up and up and up," he said, referring to six million units of hardware sold over a four week period in December, while software sales declined year-on-year. "It doesn't make sense when you say it. What are they using the hardware for if they’re not buying software?

"Are we not serving our audiences as well as they can be?" he added.

Cohen went on to describe the industry as having painted itself into a corner, where the core audience is so highly engaged that their feedback to publishers and developers is additive, creating a feedback loop that is mutually satisfactory, but ultimately doesn't add to game sales.

"We just kind of assume that everyone will become a hardcore gamer," he said, adding, "I think we're spending a lot of money on the same guys" - too much, in fact, and money which could be better spent on other, less core gamers that also own hardware."

"We've got the world captivated by what we do," he said. "Sometimes markets are down. When you're down, suck it up. Yes, we're down on the publishing side. But reinvent - we've got to be thinking bigger."

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