EXPERTS SAY GAME MARKET WILL BOOM IN 1997

LOS ANGELES -- Although there will be a lot of energy and hype surrounding new video game hardware systems later this year, software will not grow strongly until 1997, according to industry experts."Although this year is going to be a slow year for software, growth will be explosive next year, anywhere between 60 million and 70 million pieces of software," said Gregory Fischbach, chairman and chief

LOS ANGELES -- Although there will be a lot of energy and hype surrounding new video game hardware systems later this year, software will not grow strongly until 1997, according to industry experts.

"Although this year is going to be a slow year for software, growth will be explosive next year, anywhere between 60 million and 70 million pieces of software," said Gregory Fischbach, chairman and chief executive officer at Acclaim Entertainment, Oyster Bay, N.Y. Speaking at the recent E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) show, Fischbach said lower-priced compact disc-based games, such as the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, will encourage consumers to buy greater multiples of the software. The price points are around $50, compared to $70 to $80 for cartridge-based games, he noted. "That makes the business much more dynamic and exciting." "What the consumer gets with respect to the optical format is a much wider, much more revolutionary product that has more bells and whistles and more intrigue than the products that we've seen in the past," said Fischbach. Beyond the new generation of video games, some at the show foresee a convergence of personal computer games and the set-top games. This will lead to true mass market acceptance, said Trip Hawkins, chairman and CEO at The 3D0 Co., Redwood City, Calif. "I believe that 64-bit computing technology will be very similar, whether you're talking about the technology that's in PCs or video game consoles, or even DVD [digital video disc] players or Internet boxes," he said. When there is a combination of DVD players, low-cost dedicated game machines and Internet access in the same home, "Then this industry will really fire on all cylinders and become a major force in the consumer electronics market," Hawkins said.