Game theory is a popular branch of mathematics that deals with decision making in scenarios where multiple players are involved. It has a wide range of applications in various fields, including economics, politics, and social sciences. One of the fundamental concepts in game theory is the concept of the first mover.

What is First Mover?

The first mover refers to the player who takes the first action in a game. In other words, he or she is the one who makes the initial move or decision that sets the course for the rest of the game. The first mover can be any player in a game, and his or her actions can have a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

Types of First Mover Advantage

There are two types of first-mover advantage – strategic and tactical.

Strategic first-mover advantage occurs when a player takes an action that sets off a chain reaction that gives them an advantage throughout the rest of the game. This type of advantage can occur when a player opens up new opportunities for themselves or closes off opportunities for their opponents.

Tactical first-mover advantage, on the other hand, occurs when a player takes an action that gives them an immediate advantage over their opponents. This type of advantage can occur when a player makes a move that forces their opponent to respond in a particular way.


One classic example of strategic first-mover advantage is Microsoft’s entry into the personal computer market with its Windows operating system. By being the first to market with this product, Microsoft was able to establish itself as a dominant player in this industry and gain significant market share over its competitors.

Another example comes from chess – where being white (the first mover) gives an inherent tactical advantage as compared to black (the second mover).

The Role Of First Mover In Business Strategy

The concept of first mover has significant implications in business strategy. Companies that are first to market with innovative products or services often gain a strategic advantage over their competitors. These companies can establish themselves as market leaders and build strong brand recognition, customer loyalty, and dominant market share.

However, being the first mover also has its risks. The costs of developing new technologies or products can be high, and there is always the possibility that the product might not be successful in the market. Additionally, competitors can quickly catch up by imitating or improving upon the first-mover’s product.


In conclusion, the concept of first mover is an essential concept in game theory and has significant implications in business strategy. Being the first mover can provide a strategic or tactical advantage to a player in a game or a company in a competitive market. However, it is crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the risks before making a move as being first doesn’t guarantee success always.