I wanted to bounce off of Robert's recent post about Disney and Universal helping a fan on Twitter. Now before I get started, I want to elaborate, yes, Disney parks and Universal parks are competitors, but what happens when you start stepping away from the theme park battle. Yes we can discuss all day long who is earning our hard earned dollar we make at work in the theme park world, but when you look at it, theme parks are only one piece of the pie when it comes to disposable income. There is another slice of pie on here that has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and is seeing no end in sight. The industry I am talking about is video game consoles.
When we talk about theme parks on various websites, one very important factor often gets brought up and that's how well did the attraction/theme park tell its story. It's what separates a Six Flags to a Busch Gardens, and a Busch Gardens to a Universal. Stories is what keeps us theme park fans coming back to these various theme parks year after year (roller coaster enthusiasts is a different story). Yes, theme parks have gotten better with time on how well they can tell these stories. One can say that a theme park really hits is on the head when they are able to immerse their guest. The better the immersion within the story, the better the theme park because after all, we all want our own story within a greater theme park story. This is why different alternate stories within an attractions has become so important. The biggest question a guest wants to answer when they come out of an attraction, or multi million dollar land like the Wizarding World, and Pandora is, "what was my story within that area?" If one feels that they have no personal experience to what is happening in the story, then that attraction will be ranked mediocre at best. This is why Peter Pan's Flight is so much better than the Little Mermaid attraction. So this leads me to my biggest question for this discussion, and that is when is the last time you have picked up a video game controller?
According to business insider, "Playstation 4 has sold over 75 million consoles worldwide since launch in November 2013." On average a Playstation costs $399.99. When doing the simple math, that equals $30 billion dollars. Also, trust me in saying that the rest of this year has gone very well for Playstation considering games like Spiderman , and Red Dead Redemption 2 have come out. Not to mention, Sony (makers of Playstation) gets a cut for every Playstation game sold. So, lets take that exclusive Playstation only game, Spiderman and see how well its done in sales. Spiderman has sold 3.3 million units during just its first three days on the market (according to Eurogamer). At $60 a pop at least, that is a lot of money. It made an estimated $198 million that first weekend. That is surpassing even how much Spiderman Homecoming made on its opening weekend with $117 million. Not to mention this was a Playstation only game. It was not a cross counsel game. It was not made for Xbox at all. So, why are these games doing so well. When playing todays games there is only one answer for that, and that's immersion and story.
When I was growing up in the early 90s, I loved video games. I had the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. I was a very lucky kid to have both. I love how addicting they were, and the worlds they were set in. The stories were very loosely based, but I was a kid and was very easily entertained. I think this is were a lot of people keep their idea of what a video game is. Just a weird world trying to save animals or the princess. I did end up getting a Playstation 2 later in life and played roughly 20 games on that as well. Loved the stunning graphics, and how stories were finally progressing, but something happened around this age that got me away from video games. I was in my early teens, I started going to theme parks more often. This is when I started riding rides like Tower of Terror with a perfect blend of story and thrill (perfect mix for teenagers), and Spiderman at IOA. It was also during this time I went head first learning the various histories of all theme parks. Learning everything about Walt Disney and his dream for the first modern theme park. I fell in love with how theme parks told stories and how they went about immersing me in them. Now this was the early 2000s. This was the perfect time to be growing up with theme parks. Not only was the attractions getting better and better, but the shows were hitting an amazing stride as well. Shows like Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, and Wishes debuted. A story in the sky is you will. Those blew my mind. It was during this time, I put down my controller, and set out on immersing myself in these parks. This ultimately culminated to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I thought things couldn't get any better than this when is came to story telling.
While away from gaming Sony came out with two new playstation during that time. Playstation 3 debuted in 2006, and Playstation 4 debuted in late 2013 (sorry Xbox fans I am a Sony guy, but I have nothing against Xbox. The Xbox One X is the best console in the industry today I will admit.). It was during this time, the gaming world was not only pushing the boundaries of graphics, but also in what they could do with storytelling with those graphics. This year I finally picked up a Playstation 4 to see what everyone was talking about (also, I am keeping it low key with theme parks right now, so I can pay off some student loans). What happened next was something I was not expecting. I got the same feeling playing the games for PS4 as I did going to theme parks. Needless to say not only did consoles get better at storytelling, they surpassed theme parks with storytelling and immersion. It's very hard to explain why on an article, but if you are ever curious, and one of your favorite rides happens to be Indiana Jones at Disneyland, do yourself a favor and play Uncharted 4. You will not be disappointed. I walked away from that game thinking about how amazing that Adventure was. These new storytelling games have something attractions will never have.....time. These games are given time to breath. Now I know some of you are thinking that "well doesn't that fall under more of a movie then?" The answer is no. The excitement I felt while playing games like Spiderman and Red Dead Redemption 2 is on the same level as attractions at theme parks and lands they are built around.
This comes back around to how I believe gaming is a much bigger competitor than the theme parks themselves. I want you to think about this. While we were all debating on which resort was better at that moment (WDW vs. USO), both resorts have continued to see rises in attendance and increase in per capita. They simply have increase their part of the pie as a whole (i.e. market share). They are both amazing resorts bar none. While our eyes are on them only (this is a theme park website after all and that's what we do here), I believe that their eyes are not on each other, but are on other entertainment markets looking to take away more disposable income to increase their market share. I believe since how Disney and Universal already compete in the theme park, TV, and movie markets (yes I know there's more than that technically), I believe the theme park industry is looking hard in places like the video counsel market to see how their version of telling stories is now eclipsing them and I would dare say starting to pass them up. This is the real reason we got the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Pandora, and the soon to be opened Star Wars Lands. This also includes the updating of two of WDW theme parks EPCOT, and Disney's Hollywood Studios, and the eventual open of Universal's 3rd theme park (I don't count water parks sorry). Video games are simply cheaper per game compared to theme park vacations and are currently more immersive. This is the competition the theme parks face today.
Next time: How one console maker, Nintendo, went its own way and decided that fun is the greatest ingredient and that graphics were not the most Important element, and how theme Universal is looking to mix the two brands of entertainment to potentially open the greatest theme park land ever.
These opinion articles are strictly my opinion. I know everyone else is entitled to their own opinion. By all means let me know what you think. This is my first essay article I have written in three years, so I do know I am rusty. Please let me know your feedback. Thank you and have a magical day.Tweet