Kill Them All!

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It’s common thing to hear about « Killer Apps » when it comes to High Tech. These are software or apps that are so remarkable (in terms or originality, simplicity or ergonomics) that they can convince a customer to buy the machine it works with, exclusively for it.

This phenomenon is not rare in the world of video games. They are called « Killer Games ». One single game can sometimes bring an enormous succes to its games console.

Nintendo for instance, one of the major actors on the market gives a good exemple of what a « Killer Game » is. The one and only Super Mario Bros in the 80’s (and beyond the video game market crisis) pushed customers to buy 40 millions NES games consoles. Same thing for the famous Tetris which contributed a lot to the enormous succes of the Game Boy (35millions games sold). The Nintendo startegy is to possess the most licences they possibbily can, that you would only find on their machines like  Mariokart, Zelda or Pokémon. The succes of this strategy is confirmed by facts : 8 over the 10 top games of all times are Nintendo games (january 2015) ! 

The latest Nintendo « Killer Game » is called Wii Sports. It was sold with the Wii game console. This game, really shaped for its game console offered at that time a real revolution in gaming experience. It became a hit mainly because it succeed in involving not the regular gamers but the occasionals ones. The result was a mass succes : 82 milion products sold. 

But what was a fact in 2006 is not today. Occasional gamers (major part of all gamers) have turned towards Smartphone games. Game consoles had to focuse mainly on the regular gamers. This changing economical model explains the commercial failure of the new Nintendo game console WiiU.

Actually the industry itself has changed a lot these last 20 years. Money invested can now be compared to movies investments.  Today a major video game, rated AAA can cost hundreds, thousands, milion of euros. A record with Destiny and its 500 million dollars budget ! Comparing with the AAA video game of 1993, Myst (edited by Brøderbund Software) costed « only » 1,4 million dollars. It is then risky for an editor to develop an AAA video game for only one game console. Grand Theft Auto 5 by Rockstar for instance, was sold till now at 40 millions copies, being the 5th games most sold of all time. But GTA5 suceed thanks to the addition of good results on several game devices (released in 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360, then in 2014 on PS4 and Xbox One, to be finnaly released in 2015 on PC). If the game would have only been available on Xbox 360, for exemple, 15 millions copies « only » would have been sold (which is already a performance).

But these kind of games can’t be called a Killer Games mainly because its succes is not related to a particular game console sell.

For constructors, there are two ways of making a « Killer Game ». The first one  is to finance the whole cost of a game through several small studios (constructor becomes editor) like SOny and  « Uncharted » developed by Naughty  Dog or Microsoft with « Halo » developed by Bungie. The second strategy is to sign an exclusive contract with a single editor.

This choice is really strategic, and decision can have a huge influence on copanies results at the end of the day.


The latest « killer game » announced would be the PS4 ‘s Street Fighter 5. The famous fight game was already sold 10 millions copies since its creation. But Microsoft is still in the competition with its next Tomb Raider, the compagny tried to keep exclusivity on.… who’s going to be the 2015 winner ? Nintendo and its Zelda on the Wii U maybe?