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  • Video Game Industry as a Social NetworkTony Morelli and Mehmet Hadi GunesComputer Science and Engineering

    University of Nevada, RenoReno, NV

    Email: {morelli, mgunes}@cse.unr.edu

    AbstractThe video game market is a complex system wherethe relationships between game titles and publishers is convo-luted. While some publishers are responsible for a large numberof titles others seem to be less successful. In an attempt tounderstand the characteristics and evolution of the video gameindustry, we analyze the market using social network analysis.For this purpose, we build a heterogenous network of the videogame industry at different levels. Moreover, to interpret thebehavior of the generations of game consoles, we build thesenetworks for each console, i.e., PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, andanalyze the three generations they went through. We perform acomparative temporal analysis of the evolution of the industry byinvestigating 14 video game consoles as five generations. Finally,we try to provide insights and future directions regarding thevideo game market.

    Keywords-Complex Networks; Game Consoles; Social Net-works; Video Game Industry


    Analyzing how the industry has changed over the time canhelp predict where the industry is going in the future. Thevideo games industry is projected to bring in revenues over60 billion dollars in 2011 [7]. This value has been increasingsince video games gained mass acceptance when arcades werepopping up in the late 70s and early 80s. An industry thisbig has many people wanting to gain entry. However, withoutany knowledge of how the industry is shaped it can be a prettydaunting task.

    It has been shown that visual representations may providea better idea of the characteristics of a system than justraw numbers [2]. In this paper, after building correspondingnetwork, we visually map out the video game industry.

    Console video games systems are gaming systems thatplayers typically use at home. All video games are releasedfor a specific console. For example, a game that runs on thePlaystation 3 will not run on an Xbox 360. Games, however,can have separate releases that allow the same title to play onboth consoles. For instance, Madden 2012 has a release forboth the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. Games are createdby a developer and released by a publisher. A publisher mayrelease games for several developers, and developers may re-lease several titles. The relationship between titles, developers,publishers, and consoles can provide an understanding of thegames industry.

    The video games industry has been around for over 30years. As technologies change, the industries behind them maychange as well. It is unknown how the relationship between

    developers, publishers and consoles has changed over thecourse of this relatively young industry. In this paper, wecompare network topologies of different generations of videogame console industry to understand how the industry haschanged over the time.

    The first generation of video games from the 1970s and1980s will be called classic video games. The first console inthis category is the Atari 2600, which was released in 1977.Atari 2600 has been credited as popularizing cartridge basedhome gaming. The second console included in this group isthe Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which was wasreleased in 1985. At one point, the NES was the best sellingconsole of all time. The final console in this category is theSega Master System, which was also released in 1985 as adirect competitor to the NES.

    The current generation of video games consoles includeproducts from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. All of theseconsoles were released within the last 6 years. The first consoleincluded in this category is the Nintendo Wii, which wasreleased in 2006. This console revolutionized game play withits motion capturing controller and is the best selling consoleof all time with over 87 million systems sold world wide.The second console in this category is the Sony Playstation 3(PS3), which was released in 2006. The final console includedin the current generation is Microsofts Xbox 360, which wasreleased in 2005 as the successor to Microsofts first consumerproduct, the Xbox.

    In addition to the classic and current video games, we willalso analyze other generations in between. The following arethe five generations of 14 video game consoles:

    1) Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, and SegaMaster System

    2) Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Turbo Grafx 163) Nintendo 64 and Playstation4) Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube5) Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360

    The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section IIcovers background information and previous work to justifythe methods for displaying and analyzing the video gameindustry. Section III explains the methods of data collectionand data analysis. Section IV reveals the results, and SectionV provides an overview of the results. Finally, the paper isconcluded in section VI.

    2012 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining

    978-0-7695-4799-2 2012U.S. Government Work Not Protected by U.S. CopyrightDOI 10.1109/ASONAM.2012.117


    2012 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining

    978-0-7695-4799-2/12 $26.00 2012 IEEEDOI 10.1109/ASONAM.2012.204


    2012 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining

    978-0-7695-4799-2/12 $26.00 2012 IEEEDOI 10.1109/ASONAM.2012.204



    Earlier research has shown that both graphical and numer-ical analysis are valid ways of comparing social networks.

    A. Graphical Analysis

    It has been shown that it is easier to recognize differenceswhen they are represented by position, size or color as opposedto a strictly numerical display [1]. For instance, the global seedindustry network between 1996 and 2008 has been animatedto reveal the change in the industry over the years [2]. Thenetwork showed the parent companies as nodes with sizeproportional to the number of smaller companies they owned.Over time, acquisitions and newcomers into the industryare visualized. Major characteristics of the industry can beobtained from watching the short video.

    Looking at soft drink selection at a local convenience storemay give the appearance that there are many choices, howevera 2008 study [3] shows that most of these choices trickle backto one of a few major parent companies. In particular, 89% ofthe choices belong to one of three parent companies. Althoughthis statistic seems to be fairly significant, when representedas a visual network where the node sizes are based on theamount of soft drink brands they own, major players becomevery obvious. We expect the overall network topology of thevideo game industry to be very similar to the topology of thesoft drink industry.

    B. Numerical Analysis

    Although a visual comparison between complex networks isuseful, it is important to analyze network measures. There areseveral well known metrics which are widely utilized in socialnetwork analysis. Size is one of the most basic properties ofa network and quantified by the number of nodes n, and thenumber of edges e. The basic characteristic to infer graphconnectivity is average node degree k = 2n/e. The degree kof a node is the number of edges that are adjacent to the node.In-degree represents the frequency edges that point to a nodewhile out-degree represents the frequency edges originatingfrom the node.

    Clustering coefficient is the measure of how well theadjacent (neighbors) of a node are connected. The neighborset ns of a node a is the set of nodes that are connected toa. If every node in the ns is connected to each other, thenthe ns of a is complete and will have a clustering coefficientof 1. If no nodes in the ns of a are connected, then theclustering coefficient of a will be 0. High clustering coefficientis the indicator of small-world effect along with small averageshortest path.

    Out-degree and clustering coefficient will be used whencomparing two generations of video games. In-degree is notuseful in this study as it will be the same for all levels dueto the hierarchical nature of the network. Shortest paths arealso irrelevant due to the nature of the topology. Using thesemeasures in conjunction with the visual representation maygive a good indication of the type of change that has occurredin the video game industry over the past 25 years.


    In order to analyze the video game industry over the past30 years, several items needed to be completed. First, thedata needed to be collected. Secondly, the data needed to beanalyzed in a graphical manner, and finally the data neededto be analyzed in a numerical manner. The procedures forachieving these goals is outlined in the following subsections.The overall goal of this analysis is to predict certain charac-teristics of the video game industry for the next generationof consoles. If these predictions prove to be accurate, theycould help a newcomer to the video game industry figure outa business plan that will be in line with the next generation.

    A. Data Collection

    The most important piece of this project was to get therepresentative data about game consoles. Although the datadoes exist, it is scattered across the Internet, and not availableas a complete dataset. We gathered the data from two websites.www.games-db.com website was founded in 2003 and isdedicated to archiving data relating to video games, includingconsole, publisher, developer and titles - all of which areneeded for this project. Although this site is comprehensivefor the data is has, it is not updated frequently enough tocontain the latest releases. This website was used to collectdata on earlier generation of co


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