As we were chatting, I had this sudden realization. The economics of a computer video game are almost completely identical to those of a new restaurant.
It's not as far-fetched an analogy as you might think.
The vast majority of computer games published aren't particularly profitable. For every Halo, there are a dozen Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure (no offense to the people who wrote that game, I came upon it with a search for "worst video game"). For every Olive Garden, there are a dozen mom and pop restaurants that fail (and major chains).
There are a ton of similarities between video games and restaurants. For instance, consider just some of the factors that lead to the success of a game or a restaurant:
One item in that table above that might puzzle people is "Story". As I mentioned, restaurants tell stories - it's particularly true for chain restaurants like Claim Jumper, Mortons or The Olive Garden. The story of a restaurant is told via the decor, the exterior decoration, the uniforms of the wait staff, all the things that make up your experience in the restaurant.
Other intangibles that play into the analogy: With very few exceptions (Half-Life, Halo, etc), computer games make most of their money in the first couple of months they are sold. Similarly, most restaurants will fail in the first couple of years of their existance.
The other aspect of this is money. Both restaurants and computer games are optional expenses - they come from discretionary spending, which means that when times are lean sales go down.
The more I think about the analogy, the more I like it.
I don't have a ton of facts to back this analogy, but I think it works.
ETA: discussion of money and fix the table width.
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