The Great Video Game Crash

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Negative Creep
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The Great Video Game Crash

Post by Negative Creep » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:18 pm

It's something that seems to be enshrined in video game law - over saturated market led to a collapse, Nintendo come along and save it with the NES. I was only a few years old when it happened so have no direct experience, but given the popularity of home computers in the UK and Europe did it have the same sort of effect here? The NES was popular but didn't dominate the market in the same way it did in the US so was it really that much of a saviour?

The other thing I'm wondering is could it happen again? Whilst there are some very successful games out there, there have also been a number of flops and studio closures. With the endless flood of DLC, season passes, and microtransactions the days of just buying a complete mainstream game seem to be over. Steam may have loads of great indie games but it seems to be increasingly swamped by shady business practices and literally unplayable junk like Air Control or Guise of the Wolf. With the endless controversies and farcical launches surrounding games like Aliens CM, Battlefield 4, Diablo 3, Som City etc the industry seems to be going out of its way to annoy its customers. Is it going to end in tears?
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slacey1070
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by slacey1070 » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:49 pm

The UK was a very different market, with home computers dominating, so I don't think we felt the crash in quite the same way (if at all). I was working in a retailer that was selling the NES early in its UK life - I'd just got an Amiga 500. The NES looked so underpowered in comparison (although it was about a quarter of the cost - and the Amiga needed a monitor at that time.. more expense) - from memory, we didn't sell many NES's - people were happy with home computers.

Would it happen again? I'd doubt it - gaming is now main stream entertainment - like music and films and whilst there are peaks and troughs, I can't see it happening in the same way again. Remember, the crash was caused mainly by craziness in the industry, too many poor quality titles and a simply ridiculous decision to make more carts than systems... but then, who knows? I don't know what impact the recession had on gaming.. and surely, it the industry tries to impose things customers don't want??
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The Laird
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by The Laird » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:05 pm

It was purely a North American thing, didn't effect the rest of the world.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by SCALEBACK » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:43 am

It was th Atari versions of ET and Pac Man that were mainly responsible according to Video Game Invasion.
But PC these days're world war 3 simulations, Dungeouns and Dragons rip offs or point and click games. I remember when my local GAME have loads of space for PC Games (I missed the DOS, Atari ST, Amiga era) but not it's overwhelmed by PS4, WII or Xbox and these days you're lucky if you get an eight page manual for thirty-fourty quid.
I like to read a manual after fourking out fourty-fifty quid.

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DPrinny
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by DPrinny » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:36 am

NAR M8
The video game industry is now a mutli mutli million industry, at the worst EA buys out Sega and capcom and we get soulless sequel after soulless sequel,

No change for Capcom then

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GameOver
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by GameOver » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:51 am

Negative Creep wrote:The other thing I'm wondering is could it happen again?
It already is, just more slowly. The industry has been in decline since 2008 but the media only report on the major successes. Those of us who have been developers since the 80's and 90's can see it. Gamers forget history very quickly - DLC, microtransactions and so on were brought in because people were not buying games. Studios have closed because there isn't the money around to support them, forcing everyone I know to setup for themselves or change career entirely. For every new indie company that does well there's 10,000's of ones which don't make any money at all. People turned to kickstarter to try and raise funds but not even that is able to keep things going. Magazines still come up with totally made up statistics to show how great everything apparently is. We're left with 4 or so publishers who are kept afloat by very few titles. There will be very few PS4/XBone titles made and even less for any generations which may come after that.

And, this may seem slightly ranty, it's gamers that have themselves to blame. Gamers won't spend 69p on something which a team of people spent a year making, but don't think twice about buying themselves a coffee in a morning. And they moan endlessly. Nobody is forced to buy DLC, but that doesn't stop a good moan. DLC on the disc? Guess everyone has forgot why that happened? Gamers complained that it took too long to download DLC so the solution developers came up with was to put already complete assets on the disc. And yet all people do is moan some more. With the rare exception, ie Capcom, DLC comes from an entirely different development budget. Reviewers will give console games poor scores unless they bring a significant upgrade, which cost a lot of money to create, but add £5 to the RRP and it's all over the websites with people wanting to boycott a publisher. Any idea which is new isn't given a chance.

In the near future all people will be left with are games written by kids in their bedrooms. Sure, some might think that's great what with it being like the 80's. Yet all it's really done is set us back 30 years.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by psj3809 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:56 am

GameOver wrote:Gamers won't spend 69p on something which a team of people spent a year making, but don't think twice about buying themselves a coffee in a morning. And they moan endlessly. Nobody is forced to buy DLC, but that doesn't stop a good moan. DLC on the disc?
Ha ha totally agree with you there ! On another forum i go to someones moaning that their game from 9 months ago hasnt been updated with more levels or gameplay, it was 69p. Devs cant support games like this forever.

Also its depressing hearing comments of people waiting for price drops of £2 games, quite happy to buy some crappy 1.99 tape in the 80's on limited pocket money, years later they're on 30k a year and wait for price drops of games for their £500 phone they've bought !! Then months later they moan its all freemium freemium (yeah devs need to make money, buy games when they're released instead of waiting for a price drop !)

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GameOver
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by GameOver » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:35 am

psj3809 wrote:Also its depressing hearing comments of people waiting for price drops of £2 games, quite happy to buy some crappy 1.99 tape in the 80's on limited pocket money
It's a massive problem. Games are now so devalued, thanks to Apple/Google, that peoples perception has been changed and development is rarely feasible. An average indie developer will make less than minimum wage. It forces new games on Steam to be released with an over-inflated price knowing that people will only buy something once it appears in the sale. The console business is almost dead as players now spend time on freemium games, and delete them when asked to spend cash, when in the past they'd buy an average game for £20-£30. That money has now gone.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by psj3809 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:29 am

I find it depressing when theres some quality iOS games yet the devs go bankrupt due to poor sales. But then the likes of crap like Flappy Bird somehow do so well, that is one dire game. The sequel is even worse yet people rave on about it like its stunning.

I think iOS gaming is still great though, often to make room i might uninstall a game but i leave a note of what game it is so i can come back to it another time. That list has now grown to about 200 games ! Theres so much variety on iOS, even if another game wasnt released for 4 years i've still got so many games to play in the meantime.

But 'some' of it is getting ruined thanks to cheap buyers. I'll always buy a game on release to help the dev, its not like hes making tons of money per sale.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:37 am

Is this the industry failing to learn from its own history then, with a mass of poor quality products flooding the market? It certainly seems that way when you look at the volume of shovelware on every system, which just seems to be even worse on the systems with low price points (and usually lower production budgets) like iOS and Android.

Is there anything the quality developers can do to stem that tide without resorting to massive advertising costs?

I know I'd rather play one quality game at whatever price point than half a dozen ropey ones, but so few publishers/marketplaces seem to have much in the way of quality control.

I don't think it's entirely fair to blame it on punters actively waiting for sales either. There's only so much free time and money to spend on games, so inevitably the constant sales means most of us have a backlog of games as it is, since we're impulse buying things we may not even have noticed before since they're waved under our noses in discreet little bundles at silly prices.
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by GameOver » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:14 am

Antiriad2097 wrote:Is there anything the quality developers can do to stem that tide without resorting to massive advertising costs?
Neither developers nor publishers can prevent the damage already done. There are too many games released on mobile these days with everyone on the same level playfield (every interview in RetroGamer ends with them saying they're working on one). The reality is success has little to do with quality and more to do with the lottery of being reported on a website or trending via Twitter. And you can't fight back on price when everything is free.

It was things like the Nintendo seal of approval that helped last time but is Apple/Google going to bring that in? Very unlikely now. But it needs just that. And it needs doing before the skills are gone. Who's left that knows all the technical tricks that used to be put in games? Background loading on the splash/front-end screens, trigger systems, splitting CPU use across frames, batches etc... People don't even know the basics of tile collision anymore. Or even debouncing buttons using logic instructions.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by nakamura » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:29 pm

Negative Creep wrote: The NES was popular but didn't dominate the market in the same way it did in the US so was it really that much of a saviour?
Considering for a long long time, the US and Japan were the two most important markets I would say the NES had a huge impact. The UK market swam along fine during the crash. I think the industry always would have recovered anyway. I do feel it might happen again. Software quality is at an all time low IMO.
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by outdated_gamer » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:33 pm

I think the European games market/scene was more about home computers back in the 80s so there was no real effect to feel. The majority did their gaming on a Speccy or C-64, with the odd fellow who had an Atari or CPC. And those who had the cash to afford one had an Amiga (majority) or ST (minority), with some being stuck with a greenish monitor and a IBM compatible DOS machine ( :P ). Consoles didn't really get big untill the 16-bit machines like the Sega Mega Drive and SNES came out, imo. Sega got some respectable success with the Master System but the NES was more a German thing, I think (Nintendo's European HQ was located there for many years). Famiclones used to be quite popular and widespread across parts of Europe though, so we did get to enjoy some NES goodness, even though it was mostly the Chinese "all-in-one" pirate carts... :wink:

But no doubt the NES was a big thing in the US where interest in video games was at an all time low prior to it's emergence (home computers and Arcade machines notwithstanding) and the same goes for Japan where the majority of the "big players" was on the Famicom. So there's where the "saviour of video gaming" thing comes from (the Master System was relatively ignored in the US as I understand).

Speaking of modern times, I think much like what some have already written here. The game industry today is a multi-billion business with "AAA" game budgets exceeding the expenses of Hollywood blockbusters. The good thing about it is that there's more potential players as ever before but the bad is that the "big" games get designed to suit the needs of the masses and there's also a lot of "safe playing", with little room for actual new experimentation and innovation. One has to look at the more "obscure" indie-production titles to get that these days. Secondly, there is a lot of harsh competition going on and some less lucky devs might just be driven out of it. Fortunatelly, there's the new and positive trend of "crowd funding" emerging which may be seen as an alternative to the, often unfair, game's industry business model. To give the players what they want in return for support sounds like a pretty nice thing and we already are seeing the first fruits of such collaboration. Also positive is high-lighting the community-produced content which can keep even age-old games alive for years to come. There's surelly a lot of untapped potential there and I personally like it that more people feel that way. There's certainly no need to have obscenely high budgets and several million unit sales to keep a company in business... :wink:

Infact if there's anything that could somehow "implode" it's the established "AAA" industry business model which also depends on "milking" it's customers dry and expecting absurd returns for the invested sum.

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The Laird
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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by The Laird » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:53 pm

SCALEBACK wrote:It was th Atari versions of ET and Pac Man that were mainly responsible according to Video Game Invasion.


Then they are wrong. Both titles are in the top 10 best selling games for the console. The problem with those games was that Warner Bros. (not Atari) thought they could sell millions more of them. The big problem was all the 3rd party dross and deluge of new machines hitting the market to cash in.
outdated_gamer wrote:And those who had the cash to afford one had an Amiga (majority) or ST (minority)
Not really, the ST outsold the Amiga through most of the 80s. The Amiga only took over towards the very end of the decade and early 90s.

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Re: The Great Video Game Crash

Post by paranoid marvin » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:10 pm

The film industry has more chance of crashing than the games industry. Games are established in the living room, anyone aged 40 or under (so a large percentage of the buying population) was brought up with games, so it's a natural part of their life - playing games comes as naturally as watching blu-rays. They're here to stay, and they won't go away.

What happens though is that people will be more selective. When there are lots of titles to chose from, the best advertised ones will be the best sellers. Adevrtised by word of mouth, by tv/internet ads , by free downloads and by sales promotions. For instance, I had no idea that there was a Lego The Hobbit game until I saw it in a sale on Steam for £4.99. So I bought it. I've no idea what the full price is, but in all honesty it's likely I wouldn't have paid it. Partly because I'm not absolutely desperate to play it (I've got stacks of unplayed games already) and partly because I know for a fact that the vast majority of games being sold for £29.99 or £39.99 on Steam will be available in their next sale for £5-£10 - or maybe even less.

So in short, games companies will rise and fall, but with the promise of a big fat pay-cheque waiting at the end of the rainbow for the next best game, there will always be contenders, and there will always be a games industry.
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