US vs. Europe: How the Gaming Industries Compare

How The Gaming Industries Compare
How The Gaming Industries Compare Pixabay

The world of gaming is incredibly international, as any true gaming fan knows. Logging into a massively multiplayer online game, one is more likely to find other players who are not from the same country than those who are. Increasingly, games of all sizes are becoming popular worldwide and it is no longer true that only the big-budget, mega-produced games can find an international audience.

That said, there are still differences in the gaming industries in the United States and in Europe, and there are differences in tastes for US and EU gamers. While the differences in markets and consumer behaviors may be slight, they are still important for helping game developers and production companies to better understand their markets. Keep reading to learn about the slight, but nevertheless significant, differences between the American and European gaming industries.

Failure in Gaming in America versus Europe  

During a lecture in Cologne, Germany, the veteran video game designer Don Daglow outlined a number of the differences between American and European consumers that video game developers must be aware of when pitching games to a particular audience. Daglow discussed how Americans have a different view of failure than other countries and cultures. In America, failure is seen as a flaw inherent in the game, rather than the gamer. Rather than allowing players to fail outright, Daglow suggested that game developers instead ease gamers through the failing process or create a virtual experience that slowly lets the player down.

Historical Games in Europe and America  

More interestingly, however, Daglow discussed how Americans think about and engage with history as opposed to Europeans and other people around the world. While European and Asian consumers may be more interested in games that occur within a precise historical context, like Anno 1800, many American gamers will not be interested or even really have the background knowledge to engage with the history of the game.

Daglow highlighted the fact that in America, history is not taught the same way as in other countries and, as a result, most Americans would be more interested in broadly historical settings which are instantly recognizable such as Ancient Rome, the American Civil War, and the world wars. He warned that history games do not sell particularly well in America but, if a game designer is keen on creating a historical game, they should try to latch onto a historical trend in popular culture. This could be something like using the show The Tudors or, more recently, the Crown for inspiration.

Self-perception in gaming  

Finally, Daglow emphasized how, in American gaming culture, the user should be treated as something of a celebrity in a video game. The American culture of "the customer is always right" extends to video games. Daglow noted that Americans want to customize their avatar right away so that they can feel like an individual within the game.

Once the player can customize their avatar, they then want to feel like they have the attention of the game itself and that the game revolves around them. While this applies more to specific games which focus on narrative and plot, it remains true that many American gamers want to feel encompassed by the game itself and that if they feel the game is not up to their standards, they have no problem switching to a different style game.

Test Case: Online Casino Industry  

One segment of the industry which provides a useful comparison is the online casino industry. The online casino industry is popular in both the EU and the US, and while there are some differences, the industries are relatively similar.

In America, gamblers who patronize online casinos enjoy having a more guided experience through the platform and prioritize easy-to-use interfaces and very good customer service. On top of that, many American gamblers really enjoy novelty in their gaming platforms, and therefore, prefer casinos that have a wide selection of games. On the other hand, European users prefer high-quality table games, live dealers, and the security of personal and financial information.

Support from the EU  

One of the biggest differences is that the EU video game industry receives support and funding from the European Union. But many American firms do not receive as much governmental support. The EU programs, which support small, independent game developers allow for more niche, indie games to be created without much priority on profit and what will sell best. This support allows for a huge amount of creativity in the industry.

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