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Luma Arcade - The Imminent Rise of Electronic Game Development

Advertising and Promotion

Electronic games are one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world today, being pushed along not only by the ferocious appetite of video gaming enthusiasts around the world, but also the growing new opportunity it presents for advertising and marketing.

With over three billion hours a week being spent on playing online games the world over, brands are already positioning themselves to this audience in a far more immersive and interactive manner than what traditional advertising does.
The computer game development arena in South Africa still has some growing up to do though, says Luke Lamothe, Technical Director for Luma Arcade, a prominent electronic game development company based in South Africa.
"South Africa still has a long way to go before it can be considered a game development country. Luma Arcade is by far the largest studio doing this, and we are only 15 people or so. There are probably less than 30 people who earn their sole living from electronic game development in South Africa. Compare this to numbers in the thousands from places like Australia and a lot of Eastern European countries and you can see how much catching up needs to be done.

This isn't even mentioning the hotspots for game development like the USA, Canada, the UK and others, where there are tens of thousands of people who are full time game developers." says Lamothe.
Computer games have evolved radically over the past few years, creating an entirely new medium for entertainment and marketing and with the advent of mobile gaming things are set to become even more interesting.

"If done correctly electronic games can be a great way to reach a huge segment of the market in an interactive and symbiotic manner. They can also have a much longer shelf life than a single radio, television, or print ad and have the inherent ability to develop a community around itself, which can keep your target market on tap to reach again and again," adds Lamothe.
But brands that want to make use of the electronic game medium need to understand the logistics and cost of video game development, electronic games can typically take much longer to produce and cost significantly more than other advertising avenues such as television advertisements.
With the mobile, web and social gaming segments making the biggest inroads into traditional advertising and marketing, South Africa's fledgling electronic game development industry is slowly beginning.

"The majority of people currently making a living from game development in South Africa do so through small digital distribution methods such as the iPhone, PC downloads or Web and social media applications. In order to grow, we really need a lot of investment from either the public or private sectors in order to develop a real and tangible job market for game development here. Without the promise of jobs, there will be no training or skills development necessity."
However, Lamothe continues to say that it is evident that South Africa has the raw talent, it's just a case of building up to a point where South Africa becomes a player in the market and this will take support and the building of skill sets.

"It's a great opportunity for an emerging industry to take off but currently the South African electronic game development market is too small to make any real impact on the world of gaming, but its growing."
There is no doubt of the opportunities a flourishing electronic game development sector can provide. Like advertising and animation, South Africa has the potential to become internationally competitive and produce world class products. But barriers to growth include the governmental view of the market, which needs to be cultivated in order to grow into a fully fledged industry.

This is common in other countries such as Canada, where companies can get upwards of 40% of their costs carried by the government which leads to the kind of growth that the industry currently needs in South Africa.
Lamothe sees a very positive future for the video game development industry in South Africa with the proper support. "There is a much bigger sense of sustainability at the moment and a lot of the smaller guys out there are doing some really good stuff and about to make some names for themselves."
With the worldwide electronic gaming industry forecast to be at USD$68 billion by 2012, up from USD$20 billion just 10 years ago, it's hard to ignore. The mobile gaming market for one has seen phenomenal growth over recent years.

It is one industry that seems to be recession proof with predictions of a growth of over 19% it is outgrowing almost all other forms of entertainment. Online games which brought in USD$6.6 billion in 2007, are predicted to skyrocket to USD$14.4 billion in 2012 and in-game advertising is set to rise from USD$1 billion in 2007 to USD$2.3 billion in 2012.
Lamothe's advice for those looking to create or utilise the electronic games medium is to approach the experts.

"Game development is still a new and misunderstood environment in South Africa, if you do it wrong you'll be wasting your money and end up with a bad taste for games as a medium. Instead you should let the professionals at a game development studio help you find a solution to fit the brand or campaign. They know what works. Work with them on what the budget is and what needs to be achieved with the game, and they will help to find out what can be done to give the best results. Games are at too much of an infancy in South Africa for just anyone to know how best to execute on one," concludes Lamothe.

For more information, please contact:
Luke Lamothe, Technical Director for Luma Arcade
+27 (0)11 463 5250

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