Video Game Sales Close In on Movie Box Office Sales

From United Press International

Video game revenue may surpass motion picture revenue as early as this year, game maker Nintendo says.

Movie ticket sales in the United States fell from $5.03 billion in 1989 to $5.02 billion in 1990. At the same time, Nintendo said, the video game industry grew from $3.4 billion to $4 billion.

Nintendo, a key participant in the Consumer Electronics show that closed Sunday, is projecting $4.7 billion in industry sales this year.

Even if video game revenue fails to outstrip movie revenue this year, the change will come soon, Nintendo predicts.


The game maker said Mario, the tiny keeper who upstaged the gorilla in Nintendo’s arcade game “Donkey Kong,” has moved into home video games--and enjoys higher audience identification than Mickey Mouse. Nintendo bases the claim on a Q rating, a standard measure of a celebrity’s popularity among children and adults.

A mind-boggling statistical measure of video game popularity, Nintendo says, is the fact that 100,000 calls come in each week on a company help line where experts tell game players the answers to such questions as “Where is level seven in the first quest?” or “Where are the Stones of Sunlight?”

Nintendo wants to persuade the world that the video game industry is here to stay and not a fad, as it was the last time--when sales rose to $3 billion in 1982 before falling to $100 million in 1985.

Last time around, the typical player was a 10-year-old boy.


Today’s more sophisticated games are attracting older players. The adult segment of the market has grown from 34% to 48%, Nintendo says.

Also, female participation has grown from 27% to 36% for Nintendo’s home entertainment system. For the hand-held Game Boy model, 42% of participants are female.