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Video Game Industry Going to Crash Again?


Orpheus
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Saw this article (rant?) linked off of slashdot. The basic premise is that the video game industry is due for another crash similar to the early 80's do to a variety of reasons. I don't necessarily agree with the author, and he comes across as an asshat at times.

 

The thing that this article really got me thinking about is at what point is this hobby no longer viable due to age, available time, more important financial needs, family, etc? I haven't reached that point yet, but most of my friends around my age certainly have.

 

Also, are we possibly the last generation of true multi console gamers? I believe that the LCVG membership represents an exception with the number of us who own more than one of the major current generation consoles. Occasional glances at other boards with a younger target audience seem to show them to be rampant with single console fanboys. Maybe some of these attitudes will change as they mature, but brand loyalty/identity is a powerful thing, and as the technology gets more and more similar (and more diluted from pure gaming machine to multiple use device) will people see the need to buy multiple consoles? Sure, there are exclusive titles, but is that really enough?

 

Anyways, just some random thoughts.

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Originally posted by Orpheus@Mar 12 2004, 08:21 PM

I don't necessarily agree with the author, and he comes across as an asshat at times.

At times. ;)

 

You know, I couldn't be bothered to watch the Friends or Sex in the City finales. No biggie, right? Imagine the watercooler talk years ago if Bob or Susan or whoever blew off the MASH finale or couldn't be bothered to find out who shot JR.

 

Some observors (the Nielsen company and media critics I hear on NPR) think a growing number of people (true, mainly young males) are blowing off TV specifically to play videogames.

 

The time issue is a real one and it does grow as we get older. But I think there is evidence that a growing number of people are willing to make time by cutting out (or reducing) other activities.

 

What about the author's other contentions?

 

What does an art form that relies on novelty do when it can no longer offer up anything novel? Think I'm crazy? Would you call Nintendo's Hiroshi Yamauchi crazy?

 

Putting aside his incorrect reliance on Yamauchi's comments (Yamauchi's comments in the linked article hardly support the idea that the medium as a whole relies upon novelty and thus is doomed), does the author expect me to believe that advances in hardware mark the only attraction the medium has to offer?

 

How is it that otherwise-jaded people I know picked up Xboxen to play Halo? Novelty of graphics certainly isn't driving anyone to pick it up. Sure , it looks pretty, but not particularly more so than other titles we've all seen. It seems to me that there are drivers he ignored other than his strawman of novelty.

 

A few of us can still play games at 30, I suppose. You cannot play games at 35 or 40 and seem like anything but an intellectually-stunted manchild, there in your sweater vest, the control pad tangled in your long, gray, drool-soaked beard.

 

First of all, I'm not so sure that it is so very socially unacceptable for a 40 year old to play videogames.

 

At an old job, the attorney in the office next to mine suddenly decided to start PC gaming. He played on old consoles growing up, but that was it. He got a new PC and then proceeded to get up at four in the morning to game -- with a wife and a new baby, there was no other good time. And he kept it up, along with his softball league and God knows what else.

 

Keep in mind that this guy wasn't a gamer. He just decided that it looked fun, got hooked and stuck with it. This was a couple years ago.

 

A close friend and former boss occasionally asks about my gaming because it seems so foreign to her. One time she said something like, "You know, it isn't weird. It's just like how my father would regularly get together with friends to play cards. I think it's just like that for your generation."

 

And in ten years when I'm 40? I see no support for the author's argument.

 

If I'm right about this, the gaming industry is about to face its first real exodus of existing customers, a hard-core group they've relied upon for decades to snap up every new box on the shelf. And if the young kids don't see anything new and novel in this next round of machines...

 

Yup, kids aren't known to want whatever is "new" no matter how similar to what they already have. :roll:

 

-j

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Having followed Yamauchi's own quotes and beliefs for quite some time, at least what we hear in print, I am reasonably certain that he is, in fact, quite insane. Not like "The bugs, the bugs!" insane, but "Ooh, I wish we had made Kabuki Warriors!" insane.

 

Makes for a good read though ;).

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First of all, I'm not so sure that it is so very socially unacceptable for a 40 year old to play videogames.

 

Maybe the author is a high school/college age student who assumes his parents are a representative sample of their generation. I'd say it's not unacceptable or unusual. Several gamers in my office are in that general age range -- one's a little over 30, three are between 35 and 40 -- and none of them seem the least bit ashamed of their interest or emotionally stunted as a result. Hell, they're a lot more well-balanced than I am (and better gamers too, I'm sad t'say).

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I saw this article today as well. I don't agree with anything this guy says. It's quite hard for me to take him seriously since, as Travis (Orpheus) pointed out, he comes across as a complete asshat. It doesn't help that his supposedly well-researched arguments are nothing more than casual observations and predictions based on a tingle down his spine.

 

Take, for instance, this lovely passage about the supposed lack of innovation in games today:

 

Originally posted by asshat from article+--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (asshat from article)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Compare Madden NFL 2001 to Madden 2004. You have to squint to tell the difference. Do you think innovations for Madden 2007 will be startling by comparison? I'll never forget the IGN Madden 2002 screenshot with a caption pointing out that it would be the first Madden to depict players' arm hair.[/b]

 

Now, I'm not going to sit here and argue that the Madden series is a hotspot for innovation, because I know I would be on the losing side of that debate. I will, however, argue that it's not fair to suggest that the video game industry is bankrupt of new ideas, simply because one company refuses to tinker with the receipe for football. One only needs to check out games like Viewtiful Joe, Pikmin, and Rez to see that there are new ideas to be exploited in this medium. I could go on, but I won't and save myself the aggravation of re-reading this silly little rant.

 

I will respond to this though:

 

<!--QuoteBegin-Orpheus

Also, are we possibly the last generation of true multi console gamers? I believe that the LCVG membership represents an exception with the number of us who own more than one of the major current generation consoles. Occasional glances at other boards with a younger target audience seem to show them to be rampant with single console fanboys.

 

I think you hit on something interesting here. No, I don't think that we're the last of the multi-console generation. I think a lot of younger people, particularly teenagers, tend to own only one system because for them, the expense of owning two systems and buying a good library of games for it is too great. At least I know it was for me at that age. I didn't have a lot of money in high school or college, and I couldn't see the reason to own more than one system. You are right though when say that brand loyalty is a powerful force to overcome. In some cases, people mature and get over, and in some cases, they don't. Too bad. It's their loss.

 

Until this generation, I was a hardcore Nintendo fanboy and had been one ever since I received an NES for my tenth birthday. It took the tremendous power of Halo and the voluptuous babes of Dead or Alive 3 to make me buy a console from someone other than Nintendo. Now, I can't imagine going without all of the major consoles. Right now, there is a distinct difference between each of the three consoles technologically speaking. Since it looks as if the three major players are going to release their new systems at the same time, those differences will be minimal if not altogether absent. What will make people like me buy all three systems? Simple. The games. I know that there will be games I want to play on the next Nintendo that I won't get on the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 2. The same goes for the other systems. That fact alone will get me ? and many other hardcore gamers ? to pay up for each system. Whether that will be the case of Average Joe Gamer is a question I can?t answer. We?ll have to wait and see what happens in the next few years.

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Also, are we possibly the last generation of true multi console gamers? I believe that the LCVG membership represents an exception with the number of us who own more than one of the major current generation consoles. Occasional glances at other boards with a younger target audience seem to show them to be rampant with single console fanboys.

 

I don't think it's any different than it has been in the past. There was plenty of hate between SNES and Genesis, PS1 and Saturn were bitter enemies, and Dreamcast vs. PS2 is about as nasty as it gets. I'm sure the vintage systems had their fanboys as well. Multi console owners may decrease, but it will be more from cross platform games than fanboyism. At any rate, it won't harm the industry since consoles aren't a money maker anyways. It would actually be beneficial to have less consoles since the console makers in aggregate would take less losses, and the software makers would have lower porting costs in order to make their games available on all platforms.

 

As for the article....

 

 

Is it any wonder that once we see the new, glossier FPS games that so few of us go back and play the old ones? What do the old ones have to offer once the experience has been memorized? And what do the new ones have to offer but new arrangements of hallways and glossier monsters and new stiffly-acted cut scenes that we'll watch exactly once before skipping past them?

 

I guess Halo, Goldeneye, Deus Ex, and Half Life don't ring any bells for this guy. Plenty of FPS's have graphics and other superficial features as primary selling points. When prettier ones come along, people switch. However, a FPS that has gameplay as its core selling point will stand the test of time and keep people playing.

 

As for graphics having no room for improvement, Yamauchi and this guy are dead wrong. Even Ninja Gaiden, which is about the best looking game out today, has blurry textures and could cram a TON more detail into its environments. Right now, hardware is the bottleneck. Even when we have systems that can handle characters with 10,000 polygon bump-mapped fingernails, programmers won't have time to model them. There will always be constraints on graphics, and always room for improvement.

 

 

The unborn? Microsoft and Nintendo both released new machines in 2001 and both failed. The new machines were not quite new (or novel) enough to catch anybody's attention.

 

I wonder if the PS2 could be considered a notable ommission? Of course, it wouldn't support his opinion to note that there was already a very strong competitor in the market....and it would absolutely destroy his earlier argument that gamers are only looking for novelty. Anyways, I'd consider the Xbox a success to boot. Microsoft came in as a laughingstock and a few years later, message boards abound with "Nintendo is dieing posts".

 

As for his "people are too old to play games rant", if he'd have done research, he would have seen that the average age of gamers is increasing. People are taking up gaming at a young age and sticking with it for a lot longer than they used to. The elderly didn't start playing video games when they were first introduced, but I'm sure some of today's gamers will stick with it as they become old. As the non-gaming generation dies off and is replaced with gamers, the potential market will only increase.

 

As a whole, it seems like this guy just couldn't beat the first level of Rogue Leader and now the game industry is on its deathbed as a result.

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I have numerous friends in their thirties who own several videogame systems.

 

People over thirty play videogames.

 

People over thirty with kids play videogames. I know for of us who do it every month before wrestling pay-per-views. I know about six more who do it at eachother's birthday parties. And the kids play with us.

 

The videogame industry survived a recession with flying colors and should flourish even more if we eventually come out of it. Japan's been in a recession for 14 years and videogames are huge there.

 

The next time this guy writes such an article and peppers it with self-deprecating cynicism, he might want to get his facts straight first. Especially if he wants to impress me with his mighty wit. :roll:

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I also have many friends over 30 that play videogames,so I don't think that a crash will happen solely because gamers are getting older. I, for one, plan on passing my love for videogames to my daughter (who is trying to play Spyro as I'm typing this).

 

The only thing that I can see in the near future contributing to a "crash" is the sheer number of titles being released nowadays. With new titles going for $40 - $50 each - I find that the only way I can afford many games is to wait for them to go down in price.

 

If this trend continues, it could get nasty. We are already seeing some developers/producers close shop, & since I do remember what happened in 1983... there is no way I want to see that happen again.

 

In closing, I also think playing time is a huge factor. Hopefully you have a gaming family - that will help in a big way :)

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The only thing that I can see in the near future contributing to a "crash" is the sheer number of titles being released nowadays.

 

Unofficially, Sony are already trying to reduce the sheer number of titles released for the PS2, which is one of the reasons why SCEA have been blocking ports of older arcade games for full price - they're trying to push value & reduce the filler. Of course, I've argued before that the filler is one of the reasons why the PS1 dominated so much...

 

I do see console game prices having a benchmark of $39.99 across the board by the end of this year, with many more "lesser" titles coming out at $29.99.

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This guy is a complete idiot. His arguments are pointless and inacurate.

 

Microsoft and Nintendo both released new machines in 2001 and both failed.

Funny, if they both failed, how come we can go to any EB, Kmart, etc, and be able to buy a new console and choose from a wide selection of new titles to play? :roll:

 

How many people do you personally know who play games online? I'm not talking about the people you met online. I'm asking how many of your actual game-having friends actually go online with their little headset thing like in the commercials.

I have a good number of friends that go online with "their little headset thing like in the commercials".

 

I admit, I actually am looking forward to being able to download free, pirated games over my PS3 connection. I'm not sure Sony is, though.

I don't think this needs comment... Mr. Rolleyes says it all: :roll:

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Well the article seems to be meeting with vehement disagreement here, as one might expect on a forum devoted to video games (:)), but I'm not entirely convinced that the author is off-base. I can't speak for "videogamers" in general (who can?); I can only speak for myself. And the shameful and horrifying truth about myself is that the Xbox that once occupied a central role in my life has now been regulated to a shockingly small role. It is the equivalent of a blender--something I use maybe every few weeks or once a month and then forget about. Call it the price of parenthood, I guess.

 

So for me, the article actually hits home in parts. I disagree about his claim that videogames aren't innovative, and I also don't think that repetition is as big a problem as he describes, but as far as not having as much time as one gets older, sadly that seems to be right on the mark. I'm hoping the time constraints that a baby imposes are temporary, as I see other parents here on the board who have children a little older than mine and they seem to be able to juggle gaming and parenting a little more evenly than I. But again, strictly from my perspective, if I am the guy that the videogame industry is depending on for long-term growth, then right now I would not be optimistic about the future. On the other hand, if it's the 16-yr-old high school kid that the industry is relying on, well then the future has never been brighter. When I was in high school there wasn't NEARLY the videogame presence among my peers as there is now.

 

[heavily cropped, once I had a cup of coffee, re-read the original post, and realized how rambling and inane it was. :oops: ]

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Dave, I don't disagree with you that time constraints loom larger as we grow older. My problem is that the author seems to think that:

 

1) What was true in the past will be true in the future -- that is, no siginificant number of "old" people will play games and

 

2) Younger generations will not provide an opportunity for growth. His "argument" lacks support.

 

-j

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Well, I know several "older" (as in older than me) gamers. And I certainly know far more people with more than one console than I ever did with both a Spectrum and a Commodore 64.

 

But the big thing is that one of the biggest groups of gamers right now in terms of purchasing power is people in the late-twenties to early-thirties market; its why Nintendo are actually making a profit on a console which usually gets bought as a second machine. These are people like me who played games as a kid in the early 80s, and either didn't stop, or came back to it thanks to Sony's Big Fancy Hype Machine. Many have kids, and everything. Are they really suddenly going to stop playing games again in the next few years?

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You're right, of course, Jay. Even if I personally don't have the time to play much anymore, my mindset towards video games as I get older is going to be radically different from (and far more permissive than) how my parents viewed them. Hard to see how that spells the doom of the industry, that's for sure.

 

I also think he is underselling the idea of online gaming. He challenges us to name any real-life friends who have online headsets, implying that very few people can, but I alone can name seven of my friends who have such sets (not including all of you fine people whom I've met online) and I'm not nearly as rabid a gamer as some of you. And as broadband because more and more pervasive, that number is sure to grow. He might be right that only a hardcore few would be willing to play in massively multiplayer games amongst complete strangers, but that's not the online trend that I see. Most of my friends either play with each other or against a group of people that they've met online, not against random strangers.

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I'll add another reason I find this article to be stupid is the video game industry now, isn't the same as it was in the 80's. Game development budgets now rival those of movies, if not surpasses some. It's a billion dollar industry that shows off talents of game designers, graphic artists, sound engineers, and electronics makers. Modern video games allow us to fully exploit the capabilities of our home theater system. Combined with the internet, games add the human element of competition that can reach across the world. I don't think suddenly everyone is going to just stop buying.

 

Hell, when I'm in my 80's or 90's and chillin in my retirement home, you can be sure I'll have a console to play my games and smack talk old geezer style ;)

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The only thing that I can see in the near future contributing to a "crash" is the sheer number of titles being released nowadays.

 

In addition to the videogame crash of the early 80s, a similar glut of titles led to a comicbook market crash in the late 80s. Too many titles, and also a resulting diminishing (average) quality.

 

Unofficially, Sony are already trying to reduce the sheer number of titles released for the PS2, which is one of the reasons why SCEA have been blocking ports of older arcade games for full price - they're trying to push value & reduce the filler. Of course, I've argued before that the filler is one of the reasons why the PS1 dominated so much...

 

I agree that titles like Metal Slug 3 should be value-priced at release date, regardless of console.

 

I've also heard that Sony uses graphics as practically the sole criteria for judging the suitability of a given full-priced title for release....that, I do not agree with.

 

On another note, if a title like Carve can't get onto Best Buy or Wal-Mart shelves, even at $20, there will surely be a contraction coming. I can't imagine making money on a non-rehash title that is basically only sold at EB and Gamestop.

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On another note, if a title like Carve can't get onto Best Buy or Wal-Mart shelves, even at $20, there will surely be a contraction coming. I can't imagine making money on a non-rehash title that is basically only sold at EB and Gamestop.

 

Carve's a funny little title. Argonaut developed it without a publisher, and it seemed to take them a good long time to find a deal. I imagine that Take Two signed it with a small royalties deal, so they'll make a few bucks off each sale, but not enought to cover a decent marketing campaign. So they'll be happy to produce a few thousand copies, let it sit in bargain bins ticking over, as they've no upfront development/marketing costs to cover.

 

Of course, Argo are screwed on the deal as it'll never cover production costs, but something is better than nothing.

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I've also heard that Sony uses graphics as practically the sole criteria for judging the suitability of a given full-priced title for release....that, I do not agree with.

 

I don't think this is the case. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms games have been shipping for years with graphics no better than SNES quality(sans the CG intro of course), and they have always come out at the full $49.99. In fact, they stay full price long after release and don't get marked down until the next game in the series comes out. Graphics may play a role in Sony's decisions, but based on some of the games that release at full price, they can't be the only criteria.

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