Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Sony recently announced they sold 1-million PlayStation 4 game consoles at $399 retail in the first 24 hours. This was US sales only.
A week later, Microsoft announced they had sold 1-million XBOX ONE consoles at $499 in the first 24 hours of going on sale. Their number was world-wide.
There are many factors that go into the popularity, but a huge part of it is the story. This is story telling in an interactive way. Some of the franchises are also, in many cases, commissioning writers to pen novels based on these games.
One of the key demographics of the video game industry is the 16-24 year old male. This group is one of the hardest to reach (sans ESPN.com) for book publishers. Video game manufacturers have partnered with traditional book publishers for many years. TOR Books (Macmillan) had many #1 NYT bestsellers with their Halo novels. The always forward-thinking Del Rey (Ballantine>RHPG>PRH>Bertelsmann) has also had big sellers with tie-in books to Gears of War.
Some of the best-selling games are ‘first person-shooter.’ Five of the more popular that will be on both systems this fall are Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV, Killzone: Shadowfall and Dead Rising 3.
Granted there is a big jump from video gamers to books. Just because someone plays the games, there is no guarantee that he will buy a novel. But this is a vertical worth exploring. This is the core audience for these books and many of the past titles have done well in paperbacks and ebooks.
Orion publishes Battlefield 4: Countdown to War in trade paperback and ebook. The paperback comes out in December and the ebook has been available since October. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag is published by Ace (Penguin>PRH>Bertelsmann) and has a new title in ebook and mass market in the series coming out on Dec 3.
Call of Duty: Ghosts, Killzone: Shadowfall and Dead Rising 3 have no publisher for novels although there are the strategy guides and walk-through books from Brady Games (DK>Penguin>PRH>Bertelsmann) and Prima Games (RHIG>PRH>Bertelsmann). Dead Rising is in the perennially popular “Zombie Vertical.”
The biggest game of the year has been Grand Theft Auto V which doesn’t have any novels attached to it. But then it isn’t the popular war story, pirates or killing zombies like the others listed.
So, does it make sense for these game companies to create novels from the stories the games follow? A few have partnered with traditional publishers to great success. Should they create their own publishing arm and fill it with novels tied to these enormously popular games? Or are the sales too small for the game company to spend the efforts? It would be helpful as brand extension. Plus, the locked-in audience playing the games would be the perfect one to market direct.
Storytelling comes in many ways. Any company that is creating content today should investigate creating a line of ebooks (and physical if demand is there). It can be profitable, utilizes the current material that has been built and extends the brand. The audience is already targeted and built-in.
I will be presenting more about how non-book-companies can publish with Jason Allen Ashlock (Strategist at Movability) at a seminar titled “Ebook Publishing for Everyone: How Non-Book-Publishing Companies Can Profit from Ebook-Publishing Initiatives” at the 2014 Digital Book World Conference & Expo on January 13 from 2-5pm.