In the realms of video gaming, two markets rule above all others: China and the USA. Both nearly double the revenue of the next-closest gaming nation, Japan, and quite frankly dwarf that of the UK. As China is relatively closed off to outside content creators and its preferences are often dissimilar to that of western markets, the US becomes the country to conquer for outside studios.
It just so happens that UK gaming is one of the most successful invaders of the US market. Perhaps it’s the long-standing ties across the pond or just America’s fascination with British ways in pop culture, but either way, UK development teams have been able to cement now-colossal gaming franchises in the US. These are the biggest names to have come to America and conquered, so far.
Grand Theft Auto
Exclusively set in the US amidst a backdrop of guns, crime, grimy cities, and corrupt wealth, few would have thought that the Grand Theft Auto series originates and continues to be made in the UK. DMA Design Limited first released GTA in 1997, and after a series of takeovers, they ended up on the books of Take-Two Interactive. The major American publisher then spun DMA off into a part of its Rockstar team, which is now called Rockstar North.Not only is the Grand Theft Auto series long-running, much-loved, and incredibly profitable, but the latest instalment, GTA V, broke records four years ago. In 2018, GTA V became the most profitable entertainment product of all time, with 90 million in sales and $6 billion in revenue. It has only continued to rake in cash since, selling across multiple platforms while the online segment averages a daily high of 113,000 players on Steam.
Regardless of the debate about her initial dimensions, Lara Croft represents a huge moment in gaming history. Bursting onto the scene in 1996, she was the first major female gaming character to be a fully-fledged action hero. Over the decades, the Tomb Raider series became immensely popular and increasingly iconic, with the latest prequel trilogy cementing Lara Croft’s place in the modern gaming space. It’s not just in gaming that Tomb Raider has found tremendous success, though. Those 85 million unit sales have helped to make Lara Croft a pop-culture icon, with the US domestic box office alone paying over $703 million to see her on the big screen. She’s even a prominent casino game character in the new space of US online casino gaming. With sites hosting Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs offering free spins and no-deposit bonuses to new players, more Americans than ever are adventuring with the iconic character, even away from the world of consoles.
If there’s one form of gaming that you could point to as being far better suited to PC than console or mobile, it’s strategy, and Total War is one of the dominant forces in this field. Starting with Shogun: Total War in 2000, which was set in the feudal era of Japan, Creative Assembly went on to explore many other historical periods as well as some sci-fi and fantasy settings, such as Warhammer – another British product.
By this time last year, the Total War franchise had already sold more than 36 million copies, and it then released the very well-received Total War: Warhammer III. They say that some 1.5 million players are in Total War games each month as well. Naturally, the series has a large fan base in the biggest gaming market in the west, but they also managed to break ground in China with 2019’s Three Kingdoms.
While many development teams have created titles that are popular across the pond, these three franchises continue to be dominant forces in the UK and US.