I haven’t posted much lately. I must be superstitious after my Halloween post. To date the Kings are below .500, my pre-ordered 360 hasn’t arrived, and Oblivion was delayed an entire quarter the day after my post. Talk about blogging some bad luck! Must have been the Halloween tagline…
I don’t typically link to sites requiring registration, but as this is local news I thought I’d point to a Sacramento Bee article about Prima Games guidebook publishing program. According to the article, Prima (a division of Random House since 2001) sold 220,000 copies of the Halo 2 book on the first day (!) of release. That’s amazing.
We were deeply involved in the nascent game book industry at Waterside Productions, and our clients helped to establish Prima’s list some 15 years ago, but once game companies realized the amount of money available, and as outside forces such as the Screen Actor’s Guild demanded more control over the use of likenesses in games and ancillary material, each book became an expensive licensing proposition, and only Prima and Brady (and Sybex, to a lesser, though now growing, extent) stayed in the game.
Author revenues declined, as revenue flowed instead to exclusive licenses, and for authors most game titles became work-for-hire or limited royalty gigs.
Still, 220,000 copies in one day, that’s amazing. A few highlights in case you don’t click through: the article says Prima is #1 in the market with 5-7.5 million copies sold each year: they published 107 titles last year; and publisher Debra Kempker takes some credit for pushing the guide books into the game store channel, which, she says, doubled sales.
What’s interesting to me is that the game book companies have done a decent job of sustaining their businesses even though many cheats and walkthroughs are available online and in user forums. Being shelved at the point of sale and aggressive co-marketing programs have a lot to do with that and is something that many reference publishers could emulate.