SAN MATEO, CAâ€”In light of declining PC game sales, game developers and publishers have shifted their focus and are currently developing titles more tailored to a heretofore ignored demographic: the African-American male (ages 8-30).
In a recent study conducted earlier this year by Chandler Research Corp. and funded by computer game mogul Electronic Arts, it was determined that African-American males comprised only 8% of the PC gaming market.
Nancy Smith, Executive Vice President and General Manager of North American Publishing for EA stated in an interview that, “We (EA) strongly believe that the PC computer is still a viable gaming platform” and that “despite overall lackluster sales in the past few quarters, EA will continue to attempt to diversify and increase its shrinking audience by targeting previously ignored demographics”.
One such title in the works for EA is a sequel to their popular game Black & White. “We believe that the new product, Black & Blacker, will appeal to our new target audience,” added Smith. When asked what the game was about, she added, “I don’t pretend to know anything about games, but I can assure you it will be of the same quality, if not better, than its predecessor Black of Nightâ€¦ er, Black & White.”
Other publishers have followed EA’s lead as well in response to the study. Blizzard Entertainment has announced the upcoming release of Diabro, a “twisted RPG” detailing the plight of the lord of darkness (Diabro) through an inner-city neighborhood. Players, initially equipped with only a can of spray paint and a rusty butter knife, will attempt to prevent Diabro, craftily disguised as a former US President, from setting up shop in their neighborhood and increasing property values and overall area appeal.
Another of the publishers to release similar titles is French owned Ubi Soft Entertainment, Inc. In a brief phone interview with Brett Berry, head of Ubi Soft’s northern California games division, plans were revealed about their upcoming title, Steel Black Panthers to be published under their ailing SSI label. “Well, since everyone else is doing it,” chimed Berry, “I suppose it’s alright for us to do it too. We only hope that the target audience is still there in two years when we finally get ready to release it.” When describing the game, he stated, “It’ll be just like our last three Steel Panthers games except differentâ€¦ Oh, yeah,” he added gleefully, “we’re also finally planning our own zany roller coaster game too. We’re currently having a contest in house to determine a title for it with the winner receiving a PlayStation 2.” Then in a hushed tone he added, “They’ll never see it though. They’re such sheep here.” In a final scramble to plug even more of his bilge, Berry screamed, “â€¦and don’t forget Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor! It’ll feature some of the best technology from two years ago!” just as this reporter hung up on him.
The game industry is not the only software publishers to jump on the rip-roaring rappin’ bandwagon. Educational software publisher The Learning Company has announced it’s upcoming Broderbund title, Where in Africa is Carmen Sandiego? The game will follow the ever-sly Carmen Sandiego as she romps through Africa, harassing locals and Survivor contestants alike all the while constructing offshore oil derricks. TLC officials described the software as “fun” and as a “blast for mom and the kids, and for dad when he’s there”.