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The Future of Movies and Video Games International Reach

Author: Mario Pochat


Although the digital entertainment sectors appeal to global audiences, achieving success on an international scale requires an understanding of universal sentiments and the implementation of region-specific strategies. For example, movie and video game studios often translate the language of their content to reach global audiences. Yet, deeper considerations are necessary since entertainment inherently taps into basic human emotions such as happiness, joy, fear, or excitement, which transcend cultural and linguistic barriers. Moreover, while the rise of big data allows studios to analyze consumer behavior, the time to go to market poses challenges. Conversely, artificial intelligence can potentially decrease production timelines and budgets substantially. This paper offers a glimpse into the future of digital entertainment. Specifically, researching, testing, adapting, and marketing entertainment products to international markets.

Furthermore, this paper concentrates on digital native entertainment, explicitly focusing on movies and video games. These mediums are electronically designed, primarily utilizing computers throughout the creation process. Other forms of entertainment, such as sports, theater, recreational parks, or analog entertainment, will be excluded from the scope of this discussion.

Traditional Production and Marketing Processes

Historically, the approach to producing movies and video games involved creating them first and marketing them second, hoping to attract audiences and generate revenue. Unfortunately, this strategy often resulted in studios failing to find customers and facing bankruptcy (Smith, 2014, p. 1). This failure was primarily attributed to projects being developed based on gut instinct rather than market data. To provide context, the production timelines vary as follows: live-action movies typically take one year to make, animated films take three to four years, and video games take around two years to be produced. With production budgets often reaching millions of dollars and marketing costs surpassing production expenses, recouping the investment becomes a significant challenge.

In response to this uncertainty, studios turned to franchises as a more dependable and sustainable strategy. Upon the success of an initial film or video game, studios would proceed to develop sequels. This resulted in many film and video game franchises like 007, Grand Theft Auto, Spider-Man, and Mission Impossible (Pokorny et al., 2019, p. 24). While sequels didn’t guarantee success, their prevalence suggested they provided a more reliable revenue stream. Furthermore, studios established partnerships between the video game and movie industries and thrived within specific regional hubs. For example, London-based video game studios collaborated with TV production firms, Tokyo with manga culture, and Los Angeles with film production (Cohendet et al., 2018, p. 1056). This collaboration led to new movies based on video game properties and vice versa, marking a departure from the traditional production model that lacked market insights. By embracing the franchise and partnership models, studios aimed to navigate the challenges of audience engagement and financial viability more effectively.

Language Translation and Localization as an International Reach Strategy

While movie and video game producers translated their products to other languages for international expansion, it became evident that a more comprehensive international strategy was essential for penetrating global markets effectively. For instance, as part of their international reach efforts, movies in the English language offered subtitles in other languages. While language translations were successful, the breakthrough came from production studios that went beyond the language translations. Take, for instance, Kung-Fu Panda, an animated film made by DreamWorks and the first mainstream American movie to penetrate the Asian market successfully. This film captured the Chinese culture and its ideologists at its best. The protagonist, a panda, was taught the Chinese culture through martial arts. As a result, the Chinese market embraced the film. “The film further shows how the adoption discourse can be easily and successfully appropriated, commodified, and marketed under global capitalism” (Chen, 2017, p. 4). Similarly, video game developers adapted their interfaces into various languages to cater to global audiences. For instance, button texts were translated from English to Spanish to better suit the preferences of Latin American markets. However, real breakthroughs occurred when developers explored their international markets deeper, thus enhancing their opportunities for global adoption.

Recognizing the fundamental differences between video game production and filmmaking is essential. Unlike movies, which are typically fixed projects once completed, software-based video games can undergo multiple releases and updates indefinitely. This flexibility presents a distinct advantage for international expansion. Developers can learn from localized releases, iterate based on feedback, and re-release accordingly, enhancing their products continuously. This iterative process is exemplified by popular online multiplayer games like FIFA, Fortnite, and Dota, which undergo frequent updates containing bug fixes and new content. Even smaller games like EVE Online successfully expanded internationally. Despite originating from a relatively modest developer, EVE Online boasts a player base of half a million users (Belaza, 2020). Their international growth strategy revolves around fundamental social dynamics, emphasizing friendship and enmity. The game attracts and retains new players effectively by tapping into basic human needs connected to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and highlights the efficacy of such strategies, noting that EVE Online leverages friendship and enmity networks, aligning with the social balance theory observed in real-world networks (p. 2).

Analytics, User Behavior, and Big Data

In the age of technology, movie studios leverage big data to examine human behavior, yet forecasting audience preferences remains a challenge. Consider this: movie creation often entails years of effort and millions of dollars in production costs. For many production companies, the failure of a film could lead to bankruptcy. Therefore, they rely on firms that collect and analyze big data because of the potential to predict audience viewing preferences. One notable player in this arena is Cinelytic, which utilizes big data to forecast which movies to produce and even predict optimal casting choices. Before embarking on a film project, filmmakers can investigate a wealth of data on trends, actors, and thematic elements. This analytical process enables production studios to gauge the suitability and popularity of actors and actresses for a given project, drawing insights from box office performance, critical reviews, demographics, social media engagement, and budget considerations. Additionally, the system categorizes performers based on their appeal in various regions across the globe (Mutlu, 2020, p. 169). Although big data does not offer guarantees of success, it is a valuable tool for examining human behavior and anticipating audience preferences.

Similarly, video game production studios can forecast player behavior, facilitated by their ability to gather real-time big data as players play their games. The adoption of a free-to-play model in video games aids in the acquisition of new players, wherein users can access basic features at no cost but may opt to purchase a premium version to unlock additional functionalities or progress further in the game. This free-to-play model mirrors the strategies employed by software companies offering free trials, such as LinkedIn and Dropbox (Mäntymäki et al., 2019, p. 1164). Leveraging big data collection, game analytics, and marketing techniques can empower developers to explore and tap into new international markets.

The integration of artificial intelligence helps movie studios to examine vast datasets, yet the strategies for market entry may struggle to keep pace with the ever-evolving preferences of consumers. While the analysis and interpretation of data demand time and dedication, the data itself undergoes rapid changes, posing a risk due to the time required to develop a movie or game. Simply put, when movie studios receive helpful information from the data, they must hurry up and release their films before people’s tastes change again. While specific trends may endure for months, others may fluctuate weekly. Time becomes a critical factor for filmmakers, given that the production of a film typically spans at least a year.

For example, when a movie studio receives analytics indicating a trend in a particular genre, actor, or topic, they must gauge the probable duration of that trend. In 2019, Cinelytic identified Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Watson as the top three actresses in the USA. Michelle Rodriguez, Celina Jade, and Scarlett Johansson held the top positions in China (Kay, 2019). Another analytics platform, LargoAI, analyzed over 30,000 movies and demonstrated an impressive 82% accuracy in forecasting a movie’s financial success. For instance, LargoAI accurately predicted a movie gross of $201 million for the Venom film, which ultimately grossed $213 million (Mutlu, 2020, p. 169). Similarly, ScriptBook, another platform, scrutinized Sony Pictures movies from 2015 to 2017, revealing that 22 out of 32 films fell short of achieving success. Producers can upload screenplays onto the platform and receive an analysis within minutes, encompassing insights into target audiences and box office predictions (p. 160).

In video games, big data and analytics can help retain players. For instance, since video games are essentially software that can be continuously released, game developers can launch a minimum viable product and use analytics to adapt their game to the player’s needs. In a free-to-play model, analytics are essential to retain players. In other words, in the free-to-play model, the key idea is that if people don’t stick around and keep playing the game, it won’t make money. Retention depends on the game being exciting and fun in some way (Mäntymäki et al., 2019, p. 1171). Echoing the creative process of the 1970s, Matt writes, “It is clear that – especially in this free-to-play model – you cannot operate under the mentality that you just launch a game and hope for the best” (p. 1169). Regarding budget, investors are more patient when studios show them their analytics and possible delays.

In summary, the future trajectory of digital entertainment hinges on its ability to effectively engage global audiences while adapting to evolving technological landscapes and consumer preferences. Through the implementation of language translation, localization efforts, and strategic partnerships, entertainment creators can better connect with diverse audiences worldwide while navigating the complexities of market dynamics. Moreover, integrating artificial intelligence and big data analytics offers valuable insights into consumer behavior and market trends, enabling studios to accelerate production processes and tailor content to meet consumers’ ever-changing demands and needs. Ultimately, as the digital entertainment industry continues to evolve, embracing innovative strategies and leveraging technological advancements will be crucial in shaping the international entertainment landscape on a global scale.


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Chen, F. (2017). Adoption, Cynical Detachment, and New Age Beliefs in Juno and Kung Fu Panda. CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, 19(2), 1.

Cohendet, P., Grandadam, D., Mehouachi, C., & Simon, L. (2018). The local, the global, and the industry common: the case of the video game industry. Journal of Economic Geography, 18(5), 1045–1068.

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