Spurring consumer interest in games, however, will be a full frontal assault by console manufacturers to sell their boxes this year. Microsoft, which is launching its Xbox console this year, will spend $500 million over 18 months in advertising and marketing. Nintendo, which will come out with its Gamecube console in November, and Sony are expected to toss in several hundred million dollars to promote their products as well.
How much hype will that kind of money buy? In comparison, Microsoft spent $200 million in television and print advertising six years ago when it introduced its Windows 95 operating system, its biggest single-product introduction to date. That included the rights to use the Rolling Stone's hit song, "Start Me Up." In 2000, Microsoft spent close to $200 million to market and advertise its MSN Online service. In 1999, the most recent year available, Advertising Age magazine set Microsoft's total advertising at about $250 million.
"All this marketing money is going to generate a great deal of buzz around our industry, " said Doug Lowenstein, president of the IDSA industry group. "People are going to hear a lot about us, and that will generate tremendous curiosity. This business is no longer going to be in the backwater. It's going to be front and center."
Times staff writer Greg Johnson contributed to this report.
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A Game Effort
Top-selling games on consoles tend to be geared toward children. PC games such as "Diablo II" appeal to older players.
Movies vs. Games
Movie revenue in 2000: $7.7 billion
Computer/video game revenue in 2000: $6.0 billion
Top Games in 2000
Title Publisher The Sims Electronic Arts Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Disney Interactive Roller Coaster Tycoon Hasbro Interactive Diablo 2 Blizzard Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2 Disney Interactive The Sims Livin' Large Electronic Arts
Title Platform Publisher Pokemon Silver Game Boy Color Nintendo Pokemon Gold Game Boy Color Nintendo Pokemon Stadium Nintendo 64 Nintendo Pokemon Yellow Game Boy Color Nintendo Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 Sony PlayStation Activision Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Nintendo 64 Nintendo
Sources: NPD Interactive Entertainment Software Service, National Assn. of Theatre Owners
Video Game Show E3 to Kick Off
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the video game industry's equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival--an annual bash where publishers and developers hawk their wares.
The show, which begins Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, is closed to the public. E3 offers retailers and industry analysts a close-up look at coming hardware and software.