A few weeks ago I posted a question on Linkedin asking folks for their opinion on the outlook for serious games in the current economic downturn.

“Are the current economic challenges around global financial services affecting the serious games market?”, I asked. A selection of the answers I got back are shown below:

“Serious games and eLearning in general are more cost effective as the price of gas goes up and businesses & the US government get tighter with money”.
– Greg Cason, Senior Analyst at Sonalysts

“I think virtual conferences and associated interactive learning might become more popular. As virtual worlds provide greater sense of presence, they become more cost effective alternatives”.
– Jeff Covelli, PM, Sr. Systems Engr at Northrop Grumman

“Its probably to early to tell what the real outcome would be. but if games and sims save money then they will be more popular. the entertainment games industry has traditionally done better during recession”.
– Kam Memarzia, CEO, Serious Games and Simulations Developer, PlayGen

“Do not think it will affect customers already being familiar with the efficiency of properly implemented serious games. However, it might make the sales to new prospects more difficult, as many perceive game development in general as expensive”.
– Eric Eikrem, CEO, Agitatio AS

“I think if anything the economic times are helping serious games grow. I am seeing MORE discussion of them replacing costly in-person classes and seminars than ever before”.
– Phaedra Boinodiris, Social Media and Serious Games Intrapreneur

Whilst accepting that the respondents are all pro-serious games, these comments do reflect what I keep hearing in wider circles; namely that the financial pressures that clients are coming under may actually be an opportunity for serious games companies and learning 2.0 innovators in general.

Whilst many firms such that provide, for example, traditional face-to-face training or bespoke eLearning development services, are undoubtedly coming under pressure it seems to me that there are two areas where learning vendors are turning the situation to their advantage:

Rapid eLearning technology providers/consultants(e.g. Atlantic Link and KINEO) – they offer clients a chance to slash budgets (even in the end result is less than desirable at times)

Technical innovators – these firms can potentially allow clients to provide better results for the same (or possibly a reduced) expenditure.

As ever, the end result depends on how well the client organisation is able to successfully blend a range of learning approaches. To a certain extent this has always been true but as we go into 2009, the sheer range of technology and non-technology services, content and tools is becoming bewilderingly large.

Perhaps the real winners will be those firms and individuals that can show clients how to glue all these together in an effective and appropriate way?