Is Richard Branson jumping on the video game bandwagon?

Richard Branson’s Virgin travel and entertainment empire might be moving back into video games. So reports MCV, a European video game publication.

If so, it suggests that video games are an attractive expansion territory for major brands, particularly as the iPhone, Facebook, Android, and other online game markets continue to grow at a faster pace than other forms of entertainment. Branson was actually an early pioneer in video games. His company formed Virgin Games in 1981.

The company made acquisitions and steadily expanded its operations, renaming itself Virgin Interactive in 1994. It fostered some great talent such as David Perry, Louis Castle, and Brett Sperry. But Virgin also made some major duds, such as the movie-based game Demolition Man. In 1998, Virgin sold the game company’s U.S. assets to Electronic Arts, while it unloaded the British game studios in a management buyout.

So Branson isn’t a complete neophyte when it comes to video games. MCV says Branson will personally attend an event at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles in June to unveil a new online game service. This will raise new questions about whether the video game industry has become a juggernaut that other media have to participate in so they can continue to be prominent in entertainment, or if the industry has hit a hype peak and the unwise money is moving in.

The hardcore video game industry has hit some rocks. In April, sales were down 26 percent compared to a year ago. That poor showing left many people befuddled. But the online games market such as Facebook games and casual online game sites continue to grow, as does mobile gaming.

[photo credit: Time]

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