Gaming risks a repeat of 1983 crash - Report

A new report by SuperData, that was released by Digital River, suggests that the focus of gaming market has changed. Gone are the time when people used to game primarily on consoles; PC and Mobile has taken a significant chunk of gamers today.

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ape0071746d ago

*Looks at GTA V console stats* LOL!

Not a PC hater, I wish that GTAV come to PC but this is BS.

Xof1746d ago

It's not really BS. The market is increasingly saturated. Now, we've got the current generation of consoles and PCs... coming up on the next generation of consoles... and mobile phones and tablets... and the new "breed" of gaming boxes like OUYA and SteamOS. Oh--and handhelds like the 3DS and Vita.

But I would argue that the climate is too different from 1983 to really draw a parallel. Simply put, the gaming industry is much bigger now than it was then. The sheer volume of games being produced is more than enough to sustain all of these different devices.

The problem in 1983 wasn't simply that there were too many disparate platforms (which fractured the market to an untenable degree) but that the industry was too small to support all of those platforms.

Like, if every platform were selling at Vita or WiiU numbers right now, we might have some good cause to worry... but that's not the case at all. PC gaming is seeing better numbers than it has in nearly a decade, mobile gaming is insanely profitable, and the 3DS is the fastest-selling gaming device ever.

But, I mean, hell. Don't let a few seconds of clear, rational thought save you from hours of doom and gloom.


Xof1746d ago

Well, I was watching TNG in another tab and had plenty of time to think about it because Troi had her goddamn mouth open.

Gekko361746d ago

@Xof Well said, jemima puddleduck would be proud!

Right here, right now is a very interesting time in gaming, mobile gaming development it fast, providing content and to some degree innovation to games on a phenomenal scale.

PC gaming development is becoming the norm, mainly due to the shift in perspective about PC enthusiasts and the "Geek" factor. I'm a geek and proud!

I was around in '83 and it's crazy to compare the two. Saturation however has been met with diversity and choice. If only game development didn't need publishers.. Now that would be a world to consider.

I suppose a comparison could be draw with the film industry, where sequel upon sequel are forced upon a continually dumbed down gaming apetite....Thoughts?

Xof1746d ago


Making an analogy between the current Gaming Industry and Film Industry is, indeed, very appropriate.

Generally speaking, in [economic] recessions, the entertainment industry in general becomes very conservative--in other words, they take fewer risks. This means sticking with what's already proved itself profitable, whether that means sequels to established franchises with pre-existing consumer bases to guarantee sales, or conservative new IPs designed exclusively around tried-and-true mechanical and narrative tropes (as exemplified in the recent blockbuster, The Last of Us, which was essentially a chimera of the most popular tropes of the past several years--zombies, cover-based shooting, post-apocalypse, etc., etc.) at the exclusion of anything new.

If you look at western games released in the past five or six years, how many are truly innovative, original or unique? I can name... one. Can you guess what it is?

If you look at western cinema produced in the past five or six years, how much is truly innovative, original or unique? I can't think of a single one.

We're also seeing similar problems arise in terms of censorship and ratings. Specifically, that ratings are now enforced to the degree--particularly in Germany and Australia--where game developers (and filmmakers) are deliberately making less "mature" products in order to get a lower rating, and thus access the widest possible demographic.


Unlike film, however, there is a "way out" for the gaming industry. The ultra-conservative ideologies governing current game development are largely imposed by external entities--the publishers--who focus entirely on turning a profit. To Activision, for example, it does not matter if the next Call of Duty is a good game, a bad game, or a mediocre game--all that matters is that it is part of the "Call of Duty" brand, because that name, alone, is enough to guarantee sales.

But the publisher development model is facing some competition these days, thanks to both the advent of low-budget indie gaming (enabled primarily by the rise of the mobile market) and crowdfunding.

The impact of independent games on the industry as a whole is enormous. You see, these low-budget games have the potential to introduce new and innovative play and story mechanics--and when those mechanics become popular, they can (and have been already) implemented into the conservative AAA development cycle.

Dude4201745d ago

Just want to ask, doesn't digital distribution also have an effect on publisher-developer relationships? It would seem to me that indie development wouldn't have become so popular if it also weren't for this method as well.

With the ability to download games today, it saves the indie devs resources to print out physical copies of their game and therefore, there is less need for a publisher to advertise their game (it just needs to be advertised on Steam or something similar). There are so many small games out there, DD just makes it far easier to purchase then going out to the store every time.

Maybe I'm wrong, not 100% on the gaming market, so I though I'd ask.

Hitman07691745d ago

Agree with @Xof first comment except the first sentence. This article IS BS. Your comment proves it perfectly.

Xof1745d ago (Edited 1745d ago )

The publisher model really isn't affected by digital distribution. They make more money thanks to the lowered costs, that's about it.

How publishing works (in general) is that a studio will be given X amount of capital and Y amount of time to develop a game, and will not see any dividends until their game sells Z amount of copies.

Everything is still very much in the publisher's favor. The main benefit for developers is that digital distribution has increased the longevity of games--which means, in a nutshell, games sell for longer periods of time. Instead of seeing a big spike in sales during the first week that quickly falls down to nothing, digital distribution sees a much more gentle curve--that can be induced to spike back up via sales.

Of the percentage of a game's price that goes to a developer from a digital purchase versus a retail purchase... I -think- the developer makes just about the same percentage, because traditionally the costs that are being saved--manufacturing/productio n, distribution, licensing, etc.--are handled by the publisher.

EDIT: Swen Vincke has written a lot about the dynamics of publisher/developer relationships and the benefits of going independent, if you're at all interested, I'd highly recommend checking his stuff out. Just google "Swen Vincke blog."

And for those who don't know, Vincke is the head of Larian Studios, and Belgian developer that recently went independent, who has been responsible for some of the very best RPGs ever made.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 1745d ago
ATi_Elite1746d ago (Edited 1746d ago )

"The numbers have shifted significantly in the intervening years, with 51 percent of gamers now playing primarily on PCs, and just 30 percent on consoles"

The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race is doing very good and growing.

Yeh I can really see a crash this Gen sorta.

Too many COD clones and the PC has way too many WoW clones. Devs/Pubs need to make original I.P.s instead of sinking a ton of money trying to COPY COD or WoW.

stop forcing MP modes into games that really don't need them and for Heavens sake STOP making MMORPG's that do nothing but COPY WoW.

Original content and Indie devs are really driving the industry right now as all these franchise titles will start to fade.

DragonKnight1746d ago

I wouldn't be too quick to believe an unsourced number like "51% of gamers now play primarily on PCs."

dragonyght1746d ago

just curious how many of those 21% are farmville junkie

rainslacker1746d ago

Revenue from PC is up, but how much is that is the "hardcore" gamer and how much is the casual micro-transaction infested nonsense you see on most websites. It's not all master race.

The market is increasingly saturated, sure, but game sales have never been higher because there are many more gamers now than even one generation ago.

The market could become diluted, but I doubt it will be an implosion like the last crash. The smaller devs will close down leaving those with the money to weather the storm to come out on top. Indies will likely come out strong, and the middle of the road ones, who do make some great games, will likely not make it through.

Either way it's all speculation. I'm sure the industry giants are well aware of how long they can operate and how much they can spend. It's pretty silly to assume that hundreds of million of people are suddenly going to stop playing games.

All those clones, and all those MMORPG's that you say copy big staples still sell. If they stop selling, those devs and pubs will shift their focus to the next big thing, not unlike they did with the casual craze early this gen. MP is big right now, and it gives a level of control back to the publisher even after the sale. Don't expect it to go away anytime soon. However I will say that it's becoming quite bad with EA in how they want every game to be connected, and stupid stuff like that can turn people off, but doesn't mean that they'll stop playing. There's a lot more choice now, than there was in the last crash.

soniqstylz1746d ago

@DragonKnight: I would, considering the amount of facebook games.

Dude4201745d ago (Edited 1745d ago )

Well actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the increased percentage of PCs has a lot to do with gaming PCs and rendering machines.

I mean, Laptops and office desktops are becoming less popular due to the mobile market. Tablets are very convenient when you need to read documents and what not, and is much, much lighter to carry around than a laptop. Also, the UI on Android/iOS tablets make it much easier to use than laptops. You can even buy a keyboard to attach to your tablet.

Sure, a laptop is still better when you have to do things like coding, but schools also have computer laboratories so some students don't really need a laptop. The students and people who don't do computer science related things just use a computer for surfing the web, read and process documents. A tablet can do of most those things today.

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3-4-51745d ago

Look at these media weirdies trying to create drama that doesn't exist.

The game industry is the healthiest it's ever been.

More people in their 20's-50's playing video games than ever before.

Just because there is a new "hot/cool" thing that all the teen girls are doing, doesn't mean video games are dead.

It means we need to get rid of trash media like this who blatantly make things up.

DeadlyFire1745d ago

Wish? ha Its coming. Just a matter of time really.

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yellowgerbil1746d ago

why do we here this every damn month.
Tablets and cellphones have not cut into console sales AT ALL.
this gen we've seen over 80mil of both ps3 and 360 and over 100mil of Wii.
The gen before it we saw 150mil of ps2, 30mil of xbox, 30 mil of gamecube
This gen 260 mil consoles sold, last gen 210 consoles sold
* numbers are fudged because am too lazy to get the EXACT amounts but are representative to my point

supes_241746d ago

Agree. I hate the whole " mobile/ tablet gaming" garbage. It offers nowhere the same quality of gaming. It's just a bunch of stupid "touch" and "slice" junk that's sells for $1.99 so people who don't normally game purchase it inflating the sales. I have yet to play a game that is really good on my phone or tablet besides Real Racing 3. It should be in a separate category or something, idk.

Xof1746d ago

I'm guessing you haven't played many mobile games.

While it's true that most "core" style games don't work well on tablets--who wants to play an FPS or RTS with touch controls?--there are a number of old and new game types that work exceptionally well on tablets.

Turn-based RPGs, tower defense, puzzle games, visual novels, adventure games, etc., etc.

Patrick1745d ago (Edited 1745d ago )

Consoles sold world wide in millions
NES= 62 / Sega=14
Super NES=49 / Genesis=40
N64=33 / Saturn=9.5 / PS1=102
Gamecube=22 / Dreamcast=10.60 / Xbox=24 / PS2=155
Wii=100+ / X360=80+ / PS3=80+

Im sorry, but going by the numbers... Id say console gaming is growing. Im getting tired of these Consoles Dying articles. It clearly is NOT dying. I mean this current gen there have been over 260 million home consoles sold and still growing. It will probably go on to sell more than all the other generations combined. So could someone please tell me how its getting killed by cheap phone games or whatever? The numbers don't back you.

mhunterjr1746d ago (Edited 1746d ago )

The biggest flaw in this article is that it ignores the fact that people are UPGRADING, their consoles, not simply adding another console to their living rooms.

The number of people who say i don't need a Ps4/Xb1 right now because I'm happy with my ps3/x360, is going to shrink steadily as those devices start losing support. It's quite the fallacy to compare this time to '83 when there were no clear generational gaps between hardware releases.

Mouktouk1746d ago (Edited 1746d ago )

I don't think the number of platforms is the biggest problem. Nowadays, we have Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and the PC market. In 1983, the PC market wasn't unified, you had Texas Instruments, Atari, Radioshack, Commodore,... All had its own platform. In parallel, you had many other consoles, like Atari 2600, Colecovision, Vectrex, Odyssey², G7000, Intellivision,...
All that in barely 6-7 years.

You didn't have any sort of quality or publishing control either, which means you had many crappy softwares for your machines, and many video game clones. The market was saturated. You don't have that kind of garbage flood nowadays.

However, there is indeed something that caused the 1983 crash and that still exist today: how the video game economy deals with unsold copies.

As a publisher, when one of your studios finish the development of a game, you ship copies to retailers. Retailers give you money for those copies (a percentage of its retail price) and they sell the game. But if you ship 100 copies to a retailer and after a while, there are 20 unsold copies, then the retailer sends you those copies back.

There, you have two options: either you refund the amount of those copies to the retailer, either you give copies of a new game to the retailer, so the retailer can sell them, etc... In 1983, there was dozens of platforms, hundreds of games, and of course many unsold copies for many games. So publishers had to rush the development of their games so they can give copies to retailers without having to refund them, and unsold copies of those new games had to be replaced with newer games, etc...

As a result, the video game market was quickly flooded with rushed (and usually bad) games, and as no one could afford so many games, there were many unsold copies, resulting very high financial losses for publishers. And this practice still exists today, and in my opinion, if a new video game crash has to occur, this economic system will be a decisive factor.

(I hope my comment is understandable. Please apology me for any grammatical error, English is not my native language)

curtis921746d ago

Just FYI, you have better English than 70% of the people on this site. Well done and I agree.

rainslacker1746d ago

Too true. Even many of those companies you mentioned had their own competing platforms on the market at the same time like the Atari 2600 and 5200. There are actually fewer consoles available today than there were back then, and you already mentioned the diversity of PC back then. Back in the day, for the layman, it could be extremely hard to differentiate between the consoles. They all looked really similar, had similar packaging, similar graphics, etc. I remember hearing stories how people would buy games for the 5200 for their 2600.

It got very confusing, and stores that sold games weren't specialized, they were generally computer stores that didn't have the capital to just keep stock on hand until it sold like GameStop or Amazon do. The market research involved in how many of a copy of a game would sell just isn't what it is today. On top of that, piracy was even more rampant back then, and it was pretty common for people to just make copies for their friends, or in some cases, make copies and sell them at trade shows(more for PC type machines than consoles).

Nowadays, before something gets sent back you'll start seeing price drops. These are deals between the retailer and the distributor to get rid of the game so they don't have to deal with the stock. Even with what you describe there are limits on how much can be returned. Each store would have it's own contracts, and some may not be allowed returns at all. That kind of thing is usually only reserved for the companies that can order huge quantities, like Best Buy, Amazon, GameStop, etc. Everyone else is stuck with their stock because they don't have the buying power to make demands on the distributor. Luckily those bigger companies also have better market data to know approximately how many to buy in the first place.

CocoWolfie1746d ago

since gaming started it seriously has been going up in the numbers, looking at ps1 sales and comparing them to ps3 you can see an increase.
the problem to me is the games, we just dont the types of games that are being distributed, it could just be the developer being lazy, or it could be to how they treat the customers, or even how the game has changed.
but yeah look at ps4 numbers and gta v numbers, youll see it not all that bad :)

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