Has Video Games Entered A Recession?
Posted on Tuesday, January 6 2009 @ 12:13:32 Eastern
We all heard about how crappy the economy in the United States was during the final months of 2008. Lots of stupid decisions and mistakes were made to have caused such a big effect. Video games have been hit by the same thing, although not financially. Reviews for video games haven’t been very stellar and high ratings have been scarce. Gamers are running around on forums complaining about how games today suck or are too boring to play. There also many complaints about all of the consoles of either breaking down or having something that is not needed. What happened? What happened to the so called “Golden Age” of gaming?
Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and Sega are all at fault. Everyone in these companies has done something within their staff and production teams that has caused them to be bitten in the ass later on. Greed/money is certainly a big factor. After all, who wouldn’t want to be able to make tons of money as possible without doing a lot of work? Arrogance also plays a role. If your product is such a huge success, you’d naturally assume people are going to eat up whatever you serve just because they were loyal to you beforehand. These qualities have shown up in our favorite game companies and they are paying the price.
Let’s start with Nintendo. As I stated in my last blog, Nintendo had to drastically change their plans and strategy in order to survive this generation after the Gamecube and Nintendo 64 bombed. They came up on top with the Wii, but at the expense of the devoted fanbase. Nintendo’s main appeal is casual players or people who don’t really play games. Nintendo knows that their old hardcore fanbase are still loyal to them and will continue to do so until death comes along. Nintendo’s attitude toward the hardcore is lazy and cynical. Many reviews for Nintendo’s 1st party games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, Animal Crossing City Folk, etc. have stated that these games are either too much of the same and/or are watered down for the casual players. Nintendo knows that their hardcore fans will buy anything they make, so they can keep spewing more Mario Karts or more Zeldas. At the same time, Nintendo also knows that their new casual fanbase probably never played a Mario or Zelda game, so they don’t have to make their continuous sequels any different from the previous games.
Nintendo assumes that the casual players will eat up their newest Mario games and the hardcore will buy the games due to having Mario in it, but these hardcore fans aren’t going to stick by Nintendo much longer if Nintendo keeps pressing their luck with them. With a combination of being lazy in making the games, offering no way to solve the memory shortage on the Wii, horrible online, and a handful of other annoying problems, Nintendo may go the way of Sega or lose out in this generation or the next if the remaining hardcore get fed up and ditch Nintendo for good.
Sony was hugely successful with the Playstation and Playstation 2. They had a huge library of games and a cheaper alternative to media devices like CD and DVD players. With 100+ million Playstation 2s sold, that is something to behold. Sony knew what the fans wanted and they delivered. They also knew how to please 3rd party companies so that they would get games from them. Of course, one should never assume that the same winning strategy will work all the time, just like in a game. When the Playstation 3 rolled around, Sony assumed that its loyal fanbase would back them up, just like the ones for Nintendo. Of course, this wasn’t the case. $600 for a console induced pretend heart attacks to everyone who saw the price tag. While it did have a Blu-Ray player, it wasn’t entirely enough to justify the price. Sony assumed that its fanbase owned HDTVs and would get them if they didn’t in order to get all their Sony games and Blu-Ray movies in their glorious 16:9 1080p screens. This wasn’t the case entirely. While people will get HDTVs in the future, as of now, people don’t want to, or, due to the economy, can’t afford it. This could hurt the Playstation 3 in the long run if their investment in HD doesn’t pay off soon.
Not only that, but even 3rd parties haven’t been all too happy with Sony. With production costs being pretty steep on the Playstation 3 and a small fanbase due to the small amount of console sold, some 3rd party companies have flocked to Nintendo or Microsoft. Even Square-Enix plans to release Final Fantasy 13 on the Xbox 360 before doing so on the Playstation 3 and that is a big blow to Sony. Sony’s assumption that their fans will get anything they spit out has backfired; they are in danger of losing 3rd party games that they need and if they lack that, then people may not see a reason to get a Playstation 3.
Another thing that hurt Sony is multiple console revisions. The Playstation 3 started off in 60GB and 20GB models. The 20GB model got discontinued, so it seemed the 60 one was “the one” to have. Surprise! Now Sony released an 80GB model and stops making the 60GB model. To satisfy the people who want a cheaper alternative, they go and make a 40GB model for the holidays. Thinking about getting that 80GB model now? Better save up for the 160GB model. This confuses the consumers since they have no idea if they should wait for a bigger model or plunk their cash down for one of the current models now. Not only that, but with each revision, there seems to be more features cut. If you wait too long, those older models won’t be produced anymore. This also makes Sony seem like they rushed the Playstation 3 since they can’t seem to stick to one model and keep it that way.
Microsoft hasn’t fared that much better, though it has suffered less than Sony and Nintendo. Many trolls and Xbox 360 owners know the infamous catchphrase “Red Rings of Death.” It has been said that the failure rate of an Xbox 360 was nearly as high as 30% and Microsoft tried to compensate frustrated consumers by giving them a big 2 or 3 year warranty. This has caused Microsoft to lose a good chunk of change as they try to fix the mess they caused. Some people have claimed that the reason that the Xbox 360 had such a high failure rate was that Microsoft tried to jump the gun of the then next generation by releasing their console early, which was a whole year before the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 was released. This meant that they had to rush the product out and they most likely cut corners in order to save time. Of course this pissed off a lot of Xbox fans as they had to sit and worry whether their console would show the red rings and fumed when it did break and had to go through the process of getting a replacement. While Microsoft has fared well in the gaming area, the hardware problems left a foul taste in people’s mouths.
Sega…how can we forget its rise and fall in the gaming fandom? Sega, once a huge name compared to Nintendo, is now a shadow of its former self. Most of its games now are a hit and miss, but its once famous mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, is still being milked, despite that he is dried up. Many Sega fans are sick and tired of most of the newer Sonic games being made like crap and tarnishing Sonic’s image. However, most of them don’t know why Sonic is so bad today. An article I read says that someone who went by an anonymous name on the internet claimed to be working for Team Soinc (a group of developers who produce Sonic games) and described the doldrums of the team, saying that Team Sonic is forced to keep spewing more and more Sonic games, even though they don’t want to do Sonic anymore and are sick of him. The individual even talked about the idea of a werehog and this was a year or half a year before Sonic Unleashed was even announced. The individual went on to say that Sega only cared about money and that Sonic was a good generator of it, so they wanted Team Sonic to keep making Sonic games over and over again. After reading it, it does make some sense; Sonic stinks because he is managed by a team who are simply tired of doing nothing but Sonic games, but is forced to produce him anyway. Can Sonic be saved? Only if Sega hires a new team or cans Sonic for a while. While the article may not be legit to some people, the theories it presents cannot be denied a look. The source to the article is here: http://www.tssznews.com/2009/01/05/the-blog-sega-doesnt-want-you-to-read/
Gaming isn’t what it used to be. With consoles having faults and problems and games that are being lazily produced, gaming today hasn’t been all that stellar, but only stale. It is not a repeat of the video game market crash, but as developers and head honchos argue over how to sell, us gamers are suffering from subpar quality products.
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