Video Game Crash of 1983: the Apocalypse That Wasn’t

video game crash 07-06-15-1

The Dark Age

In the year of 1983, a great disaster happened to the gaming world as the market crashed, companies went bankrupt and games stopped being made. This dark age lasted until Nintendo came with their Nintendo Entertainment System and saved the gaming world.

Well, not really. This might be a common narrative among gamers but – like almost every other dark age narrative – it’s an extremely exaggerated one. The truth is more complex and less black and white than many would like to believe. This is something worth remembering especially nowadays when the new crash is being prophesized all the time.

Everyone from Reddit to #egmr and from Forbes to Cracked has been talking about the impending doom for a few years – but only few writers (I personally recommend Ollie Barder’s Forbes article as an interesting, non-alarmist take on the subject) give it enough thought.

E.T. for the Atari 2600: The (almost) destroyer of worlds
E.T. for the Atari 2600: The (almost) destroyer of worlds

What Crashed?

The huge success of the famous Atari 2600 console led to the creation of a whole market of 8-bit consoles as well as official and unofficial hardware clones. To stay competitive on the crowded market, Atari relaxed its quality control standards and not only started releasing half-assed ports of popular arcade games and disappointing movie tie-ins but also caused a lot of controversy by allowing a certain other company to create pornographic games for their console. The large number of systems and games combined with their varying quality and a lot of bad publicity resulted in the American public getting fed up with consoles and console games as the development companies went bankrupt and investors started avoiding this particular market. Thus, the market crashed.

Outside of the console market, the effects of the crash were felt in the arcade industry. While the decline of the arcades was not nearly as dramatic as what happened to the console market (American developers like Midway continued releasing arcade video games through the years of the crash), the revenues dropped significantly.

Both the console market and the arcade market started to recover in the late 1985 and early 1986. This is, of course, the result of how succesful the NES was. The console which made consoles popular again was the console which no American company wanted to distribute, the console which wasn’t even sold as a console. The early history of the NES was the history of a developer struggling against the crash and winning.

What Didn’t Crash?

Seven Cities of Gold: a part of the non-destroyed world of computer games
Seven Cities of Gold: a part of the non-destroyed world of computer games

The answer to this question is simple – things which didn’t crash with the American console and arcade market were the things outside of the American console and arcade market. For example, there’s a reason why Nintendo was even able to bring the NES to America and it’s a very simple one: from the start, Famicom was a huge success in its home country and it didn’t even need to pretend not to be a console – porting popular arcade games was enough (although they did release some edutainment games to make it seem the console was for more than just having fun). As the gaming market wasn’t so globalized in the 1980s, the industry in Japan was different from the industry in the United States and the problems which plagued American market were mostly unheard of in Asia.

In the North America, consoles and arcades suffered but it’s important to remember that console and arcades were not the only things American gamers had access to. During the years of the console crash, computer gaming lived on. Two of the biggest 1980s RPG series, Ultima and Wizardry, got new installments in 1983 while a little company known as Electronic Arts released many inventive strategy games a few years before its inevitable descent into villainy.

The computer games market was smaller from the console one – and some classic games from that era were a part of the free and open-source software movement – as the machines were more expensive, the games were less intuitive to play (with the whole genres built around reading long descriptions and typing commands into text parsers) and the hardware had trouble dealing with some common arcade and console game features (e.g. scrolling) but it had its advantages: it was relatively easy for a user to become a developer (as using computers often required knowing how to program and the hardware allowed to easily produce copies of homemade games on tapes or disks), larger memory allowed for more complex calculations and the games could freely save player’s progress.

As a result of those factors, computer games had a more niche appeal – they were slower, more complex and not meant to be played in a single sitting – but they were also extremely important in the development of adventure, strategy and role-playing genres.

It’s also worth noting that there were many places were the consoles didn’t really take off and most of gamers didn’t care about them failing. In the United Kingdom, early 1980s were the years of cheap microcomputers like Dragon32, BBC Micro, and the ZX Spectrum. The last one was especially important as the home of many of the classics of British gaming. Computers – both personal and mainframe – were also more available than consoles in the Soviet Bloc countries. While most of people in the West know the game for its NES and Game Boy versions, Tetris was originally a computer game which didn’t see a console port until four years since its release.

The crash of 1983 mostly impacted a certain segment of a market in a certain region. While the impact was big and destructive and both segment and region were large, important and profitable, the fact that it wasn’t the whole gaming industry is worth remembering. Because as bad as it got, gaming as a whole wasn’t in danger of dying – just in danger of becoming a niche hobby for computer enthusiasts that is somehow also big in Japan.

Will Something Crash Again?

Shenmue 3: AAA games arriving in the crowdfunded world
Shenmue 3: AAA games arriving in the crowdfunded world

As I’ve said in the beginning of the article, there’s a lot of talk about the possibility of a new crash. There is a lot of shovelware on the market (and the more relaxed policy taken by Steam can be seen as the analogue of Atari’s policy in 1982 and 1983), the big budget developers are releasing unfinished games, the new consoles have hardware similar both to each other and to PCs. The crash is possible.

I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable though, as the industry is clearly changing, trying to adapt to the new situation. One of those changes can be seen in the Shenmue 3 crowdfunding campaign. While Kickstarters for new games in cult classic series and niche genres are nothing new, they were usually done by small and medium developers. Today, large companies like Sega are using the strategies which made independent and semi-independent developers successful.

It’s hard to predict what will come of this but one thing is obvious – AAA devs realize that the way they were doing things is not working anymore and they are trying to change it. Maybe the Shenmue example will not start a trend among other big budget companies, maybe it will, but it won’t be enough to save them – however, something has moved in the game industry.

Will We Care if it Crashes?

Even if the video game industry crashes, there’s no reason to think it will be a great disaster and the beginning of a new dark age. Gaming survived in 1983 and it will surely survive in 2015 when the machines are cheaper, distribution is easier, and people with niche interests can easily communicate with each other on the Internet. There will not be a video game apocalypse.

If the crash happens, gamers are not the ones who will be hurt the most. While the potential bankruptcy of the bigger companies might mean less big budget AAA games, the only reason the companies can go bankrupt is that people don’t really care about big budget AAA games that much. If it’s the indie market that falls apart, it will fall apart because of the indie devs who didn’t fulfill the big promise of independent games by not creating something different, interesting and fascinating enough. If the consoles die, it’s because they aren’t dedicated gaming hardware anymore and their place will be taken by the personal computers – maybe made more ‘dedicated’ by the introduction of VR headsets and other innovative peripherals.

You should fear the prospect of a new market crash – but not if you’re a gamer. You should fear it if you’re a developer or a publisher and you think you’re not doing a good enough job. Because if the crash comes, the gamers will not be its victims but the ones who cause it – not through any dramatic action but by simply losing interest in your games.

Further Reading:

Header image: Wikipedia

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Maciej Miszczyk


I play games (I have a preference for old, weird and difficult ones but that's not the rule) and write articles about them that are sometimes a bit too long. Sometimes I also do things other than gaming, I swear.

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  1. Nonscpo
    July 6, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Great article and I agree, what happened in 1983 is greatly exagerated, plus people fail to take into account the European and Japanese market into the equation. I also don’t think that if another crash happened it would be as devastating, there isn’t enough competion on the macroconsole level, though the microconsole market could reach saturation. Thanks to digital distribution I see the potential of smaller titles growing over time, but do see the need for reform of the AAA industry.

  2. deadeye
    July 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t think there will be any great big crash.

    However I feel like AAA developers will need to really change how they do things. It used to be the worst you were getting was a mediocre game, now we’re getting mediocre games that don’t even work when they launch.

    People are gonna get tired of it, they’ll stop buying the games, the games will stop making money. Then developers will have to adapt or risk going out of business.

    It’s one of the things I really like about the Steam refund system. I can only hope it will make it so that we get more games that work properly. Otherwise, they risk the majority of people that bought the game getting a refund.

    The good developers making good games will continue to make good games. They’re not really in any danger.

  3. MrGilder
    July 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    This is a succinct exploration of an important piece of industry history that few people bother to really take the time to understand. Thanks for the writeup!

    You may, however, want to clarify some of the language in your discussion of the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter campaign regarding Sega. Your wording implies that Sega is somehow turning to crowdfunding, but that is not the case here. Sega is not involved in the Shenmue 3 campaign. They have given their blessing to Suzuki and his devs to continue the series since they have no intention of doing so themselves.

  4. luggage lad
    luggage lad
    July 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    We’re seeing crashes all over video games.. Facebook gaming/Zynga plummeted, MMORPGs are in their dark times, and right now the indie game scene is oversaturated and suffering on Steam. It’s been alittle different each time but it’s always the result of greed.

    Maybe mobile is the next crash, or not. But it’ll probably never be the entire industry again like it was back when Atari ran the place

  5. JCTXS
    July 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I don’t feel a full crash will happen. PCs will always get games at this point, regardless of what the console market does. Indies are probably going to hurt though since there’s way more competition in that market and it feels very saturated at the moment.
    Something will rise from these failures, and PC gaming was “dead” for over a decade.

  6. ArsCortica
    July 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I think the industry could use a good crash right now. Day-one-DLC with content that was originally planned to be part of the vanilla game, dozens of shitty P2W games, and other anti-consumer practices are increasingly becoming the norm, as big publishers like EA and Ubisoft try to milk the audience as hard as possible.

  7. Reyhip
    July 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Market crashes are just like forest fires… Things get overgrown and bloated and the natural order is for the seeds planted by the past will rise from the ashes.

    And I welcome one with the current rate of Kickstarters, indie circle jerk crap, and big budget games not being a winner at over 5 million units sold.

  8. JackDandy
    July 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I freakin’ love articles by Maciej. Always an in-depth look at stuff not usually discussed. You’re doing a great job man!

    Anywho, the final truth is that there will always be the stragglers and garage devs who hold true passion for games in their hearts.

    And as long as they’re around, a thousand crashes won’t be stopping the vidya train.

  9. Hagane-Cosplay.tumblr.com
    July 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Good article. Whilst the “crash” isn’t a made-up thing, I’ve always felt that, to some degree, it’s a name that the collective editorship of Wikipedia came up with to act as an umbrella over a variety of events, when people didn’t really see it as a “crash” at the time.

    Another thing you mention, a pet hate of mine is when people refer to it as “the video game crash of 1983” when it should, always, be referred to as “the NORTH AMERICAN video game crash of 1983”. The industry in Europe and Japan were affected by it, but not in the same way, and it’s wrong to somehow consider the American situation as the de facto standard.

  10. Tubsiwub
    July 6, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Well, personally I don’t buy many AAA games. They’re just not new or creative enough for the most part unless they come straight from Nintendo… and even Nintendo has done so much wrong.

    We’ll see.

  11. Ippiki Okami
    Ippiki Okami
    July 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    “You should fear it if you’re a developer or a publisher and you think you’re not doing a good enough job.” This is exactly why a crash would not affect fans of video games and would probably be a benefit to gamers. If there was a crash, it would be less “suits” controlling budgets and more creative types. Now SJW’s are another story but I suspect a crash would drive them off also and maybe they can protest food or something.

  12. Noah Howard
    Noah Howard
    July 6, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    A very well thought out article!
    I agree with the end argument of gamers not being affected by the next crash. For a similar case, The classic era SHOULD be remembered as the worst in Hollywood history, By logic’s standard, but instead is remembered for some of the most inspirational films because audiences love them! Both forms of entertainment survived because they had the audience’s approval.

  13. Cred
    July 6, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    the old crash has become a sort of mythological event in videogame culture, the legend has become bigger than what really happened
    and perhaps crash is not the right word
    maybe cataclysm fits more
    there’s a lot of chaos, destruction but also a chance for change and rebirth
    would anyone argue that videogames did not become better after their first crash?
    granted, we have to thank the NES for that, without it we don’t know how long it would have taken for things to grow back

    Japan and Nintendo really did revive the industry as we know it
    and it might be Japan once again that shows us the way to do things right now that the west is becoming so focused with politics and forgetting what really matters, the content, the games

    nice article, agreed with the buttom line, if any part of the industry crashes it would not be such a bad thing, if something isn’t working then it needs to go away or change and some aspects of AAA game development do not seem sustainable anymore

  14. Fenrir007
    July 6, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Excellent article, Maciej!

    Regarding a possible new crash, I find that close to impossible to happen nowadays. The market changed significantly from the 80s and 90s. While it is true that in certain ecosystems we see a race to the bottom, it’s also true that both development tools and the consumer market expanded significantly. You can, nowadays, get a full development suite either for free or for peanuts, and even get the necessary training and development support for free on the internet. You have asset stores to easily purchase the assets needed. You have crowdfunding. You have Early Access (which I greatly dislike and I don’t think it’s meant to fund ongoing games, but rather, to help consumers actively participate in the development process both by providing bug reports as well as gicing creative input on the overall design).

    You can also easily publish your game through multiple venues thanks to digital distribution. Your potential consumer market changed from a local region to the entire world through the power of the internet. We have seen multiple niches pop up and prosper, and nowadays they safely coexist with freemium MMORPGs, MOBAs and military shooters, despite some going into prolonged hibernation in the early 2000s.

    FInally, there are multiple methods of monetization that devs can use nowadays, from episodic content to the controversial freemium method, as well as DLC that recycles multiple pre-existent assets to build upon the already released core game. Let us also not forget the path some take of building the longevity of their titles without the associated development cost through liberal use of community productions – of which Valve and, perhaps maliciously, Bethesda are possibly kings.

    With all that in mind, I can’t envision a complete market crash. What I can see are very specific bubbles bursting – for example, I believe the current model of certain AAA developers to be completely unsustainable. Bloated budgets on marketing and speed development, causing a necessity to sell millions of units to even break a profit, is not a realistic approach in the gaming market. Ever increasing development budgets due to a myopic focus on comparatively inane things like higher poly count (while ignoring the art direction) are another problem.

    I do see the console industry in trouble in the coming years, in particular due to the mobile menace. Our smartphones and tablets are getting increasingly more powerful, and can already play console quality games ported to it. A good example is the Xcom Enemy Within port, which, as far as I recall, owns nothing to the PC or console version (it actually controls better than on a console). We are also seeing a stronger commitment from both Apple and Google towards gaming – a no brainer, since those software dwarfs the sales of non-gaming related apps. With Android TV / Apple TV / Certified gamepads / Game streaming / HDMI out, we may enter, in a couple of years, in an age where people looking at a console may truly ask themselves “why buy this when my pre-existent phone Galaxy Note 7 outputs a similar looking thing and I can play it both on the go and at my sofa, all for a fraction of the price of the game and no extra hardware to acquire, and also no service subscription for online gaming?”.

    I mean – we have Galaxy Note 3s already emulating Dreamcast perfectly:


    Imagine what we can’t already do with fully ported games? And the Note 3 is already outdated today in the market. Imagine what a Tegra X1 won’t be able to do once its out? And then there are all the possibilities between Windows Phone / Windows 10 for gaming. Who knows what they might pull – maybe some plataform integration that goes beyond just the social and gets into the actual games, with shared play, plataform agnostic purchases etc.

    Maybe Nintendo NX will be some mobile / console hybrid. Who knows. At some point, I can see someone attempting to make a “Xperia Play 2” kind of thing (The Xperia Play was released too soon, the hardware was simply not ready, plus it was expensive), but even if they don’t, the rest of my comment still stands.

    I think it was someone from Nintendo that once said that their biggest competitors weren’t Sony or Microsoft when talking about the 3DS, but Apple.

    PC gaming, as usual, will stand, and perhaps absorb a portion of the more hardcore console gamers who will become casualties of this console war – even more considering the recent push from Valve to take over the living room.

  15. Tyrannikos
    July 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Nice read. I don’t enjoy seeing people talk about the crash as some prophetic event that left us all deaf, dumb and blind. As some prophetic event that will come back after a certain amount of time to cull the masses in some ritualistic manner. It was a rough time, but people like to selectively forget certain facts. This piece was a breath of fresh air.

    I don’t foresee any sort of crash in our future, but I do believe at some point, video games will no longer be the “cool” thing. I think their popularity will fall back to its previous state at some point. I don’t believe it’ll cause a crash in the market, but it’ll definitely shake up devs and publishers – especially those in the AAA and mobileshit departments. Many will adapt. Some won’t and will die. Video games will live on yet again.

  16. dsadsada
    July 6, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Even if the entire industry completely crashes…I’d just have to look for a new hobby. The horror.

    But that’s unlikely to happen. People more clever will simply move on to other methods or come up with more interesting gimmicks, either in terms of gameplay or peripherals or both. And as much as it pains me to say, even if consoles and PC both crashed which is highly unlikely for the latter, casual gaming on mobile devices will likely still go on, albeit at a slower rate than today which may even be a good thing. Less shovelware after all.

    Meanwhile, other parts of the world may not even care and carry on since their side of the industry is still fine like Europe and Japan had done in the day. And as such, even sites like Nichegamer would still do well enough given their focus on the not often talked about. Because the ones not often talked about in the west, specifically in NA, would be the ones most likely to weather such a crash.

  17. DariusQ
    July 6, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    No worries. True gamers all have a backlog that should tide them over to the real world apocalypse. ;)

  18. vonSanneck
    July 7, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Hindsight is 20:20. So the question is not when the crash happens, it’s where it stops. As in the article the crash of 83 happened gradually and ended up with losses for the USA’s console market.
    Now what interesting development is currently?

    So… I’ll wait for more development.

  19. GDI
    July 7, 2015 at 12:20 am

    You’re crediting Sega way too much for Shenmue III… it’s Suzuki, Ys Net and Sony, Sega just shrugged their shoulders. It used to be an AAA franchise, but at its current rate (even after it revealed physical copies), it’s at most a double-A or AA effort.

    I think it’s a slow crash that hasn’t finished yet, and in the long term it will be more of a managed correction… as people have mentioned here before… Zynga? MMORPGs? Indie hipster Not-Games such as Tale of Tales? Rovio? Not doing very well compared to before. Also most governments are not as generous as before with their funds and tax breaks for game studios. Add in Steam Refunds and piracy even on F2P systems and there’s going to be much less developers putting food on the table.

    I predict handhelds will continue to decline in popularity (except in Japan where it stays on life support) and consoles, custom-built, and non-custom-built PCs will merge in the west and will essentially be the same market (would you like a Steam controller, or an Xbox controller with that?) AAA will shrink, shit indies will dies, speculators will GTFO. Many games will be B to AA quality again, digital-only, powered by Unity 5 or Unreal 4 and made by teams of less than 10. The megacorporations will concentrate on Apple’s market… the casuals will stick with their iPads playing Disney’s Blockbuster Movie #352: The Game.

  20. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 7, 2015 at 2:13 am

    The biggest contributing factor is the change from a Software Company model to a ‘Studio’ model – largely brought on by the exodus of SFX and failed shitty directors from the movie industry, who had money and walked onto management and other high level positions at game companies around 2005+.

    This, coupled with Microsoft’s gambit of including two SDK’s [Vista and X360] in one, also shifted a number of traditionally PC developers onto consoles and forever changed the console market.

    Lastly, Gen 3’s biggest problem is that they pushed hardware to bleeding edge. Bleeding edge costs a lot, even when you’re not overpaying ex-hollywood animators to make your game, and firing everyone as soon as the ‘project’ is done.

    Thus the exodus to cheaper platforms with lowered expectations, and the advent of Skinner box paywalls [thanks, Zynga assholes].

    If we want the Industry to be ‘fixed’, if we want good quality games for a single price, without ass-tons of DLC, a good amount of content, that work, the companies will have to stop their unprofitable business models, and we’ll have to accept a little lower standard of eye bleeding graphics.

    At least for a couple of years, until penance is paid for our little mid-2000’s time-skip.

    But the Industry doesn’t want to cut the fat, or give up its unprofitable business model or return to the Software Company model rather than the ‘Studio’ model, and I’m not sure we’ll get back there.

    The best answer is, regrettably, Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding. We get to put our money where our niches are and essentially directly fund the games we want – Publishers are coy because they have to spend $150 million, and that’s for a rushed, mainstream shitpile that barely works or doesn’t work.

    The business model is not sustainable. Change will come – either we direct it, or we duck out of its way, but either way, it’s coming.

    Source: I worked in management at a game studio years ago. Got out of the biz because I was sick of working for 1/3 the pay I was worth, in studios full of faux-gamers, attending board meetings about how to dumb down beautiful designs so stupid people would buy them, who weren’t even our audience.

    Yes, salty as hell, but HONEST.

  21. Cred
    July 7, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Interesting stuff man

  22. GDI
    July 7, 2015 at 3:19 am

    Wow, thanks for the insight. No wonder everything became “cinematic movie games” with quick-time events, I mean, literally movie industry veterans took over game companies. Sure, they made game profits reach billions just like the movies, but at what cost?

    Skinner box mechanics won’t go away — just look at the game industry in China, Korea, and Taiwan (the latter used to make nice single-player PC games). Unless one is prepared to pay for botnets to to trick app store charts (e.g. Flappy Bird) or is a big-ass company that spends more on user metrics and advertising, don’t even bother with the mobile market. These practices are madly profitable for the few companies that win the lotto, so they’re not going away.

    It’s kinda sad that some game types I like need to be crowd-funded to even get off the ground. I don’t even need next-gen graphics, I just want good art direction.

    I’ll be in /agdg/ when you need me.

  23. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 7, 2015 at 4:18 am

    “literally movie industry veterans”

    *literally movie industry dropouts


    And yes, that coupled with the insane demands of bleeding edge graphics actually attracted them, and they found fertile ground.

    They brought their crony friends and their animation/sfx teams and thought “yeah, I can do this, it’s just games”.

    ‘Cinematic’ games depend less on skill, quick-time events are a good mechanic but they’re over-used because it lets you just play a cinematic instead of coding tons of combat and collision and etc.

    It lets you do more than the engine is really capable of, and more than the hardware is capable of in all but the most expert hands, because it’s a movie clip, not a simulated game world.

    Well now, even those aren’t enough. Now the users have whetted their appetite for fake levels of graphics, and hardware can’t catch up – there are literal walls we’re approaching.

    The reason I say Kickstarter is more viable, is because users are willing to accept a lower standard there, than they are from the big names.

    It’s the real business model.

    AAA games are, in the minds of the management, just a platform to sell you other shit. ARPU obsession has, and will, kill the biz as was predicted long ago. [http://www.whatgamesare.com/2011/01/love-your-pirates-heresy.html]

    What this means is that when I say the business model is unsustainable, is that the reason they call a game that sells 8-10 million a failure is that it’s still either not profitable or only marginally profitable.

    This is because of a few things:

    * They are selling it way below its actual cost – thus DLC, retailer lock-ins, etc. etc.

    * Their business is insanely bloated and they refuse to do anything about it. Doing something about it means admitting that the emperor has no clothes, and they’re worried it’ll pop the bubble.

    * Their executives only convince investors to make games by whiz-bang and insane projections – that’s why they hunted down pirates like a literal freaking salem witch trial anew, and it failed, but they still haven’t totally given up on DRM. They need every cent.

    * Their costs for the use of the game don’t match up with the costs of maintaining it. In other words, think of it like this:

    If I’m making a game with a multiplayer component that doesn’t have a subscription, as a responsible, risk-managing businessman, I bake in the cost of the projected lifetime use of those services with the cost of that disc, that license.

    So let’s say I project the average user per disc, or uses per disc, amount to $5.00. Or that I figure that’s all I can charge.

    If I want to have my business be sustainable, I figure out the best experience I can provide for their $5.00 and that’s it – that’s what I provide.

    If there’s an expansion, or people really like it, then I add on more, and that cost is also ‘baked in’ to the new content.

    That’s what sane people do.

    But in our environment, here’s what they do:

    * Suits force multiplayer and network features on games that don’t need them, don’t benefit from them,and will never have an active community

    * This is because multiplayer drives certain market sectors, and they can’t afford to cut any out

    * This drains dev resources away from the actual game

    * They are required by contract and user expectation to use tons of network features, so they have to divert resources for that

    * The advent of paid online play [PSN post-PS4 launch, XBL since ever] is an offset to this. Instead of the developer hosting and maintaining servers, they pay Xbox / SONY to do it. That’s why PSN servers pre-PS4 were so shitty – they were ill maintained in a back room or a closet.

    * This shifts cost burden to the consumer, but not all of it.

    * Then, they still under-estimate the cost per user. They spend way more than even a very successful $60.00 game takes to make their game, and they either boom or bust – depending on preorders and DLC to actually make money.

    * The real cost per user is about $100 – $120 depending on the game, if they were to actually sell you the full product. The market won’t pay that – we as consumers have determined that it’s not valued at that, largely because of lack of quality and over-saturation – so they connive other ways to get it, a-la season passes, pre-order locked DLC, etc.

    * I don’t like what Evolve did with its DLC, but at least the CEO was honest when he explained it. It’s not what we wanted to hear, it’s a tough red pill to swallow. As a gamer and a businessman, and a designer on the side, it’s a pill I had to gulp down a long time ago.

    * The SFX costs are actually pretty easily explainable if you look at actual SFX – it’s also not profitable, studios close all the time, they relocate once every 18 months to where tax incentives are, and their shed staff end up in, you guessed it… game studios where they had director / producer friends, or who needed hollywood-quality work done because of their fucked up business model demanding it.

    The game industry is the younger spitting image of SFX. We have to solve the algorithm they never did, to save our industry.

    I got out for a lot of reasons, but most of all, I didn’t want to be a poor, marginally employed transient with a good title and a fun job who could never get married or have a life outside work.

    Too bad for me, I’m a workaholic no matter where I go, hah.

    What’s /agdg/ ? – I’m old, and I thought I’d heard of everything.

  24. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 7, 2015 at 4:41 am

    The crash needs to come, and it saddens me to say that.

    The industry is chock full of bloat, so full it’s shitting itself.

    A crash is what we call a ‘market correction’ – meaning things which are over-valued, or over-costly, adjust or are culled, and the market settles on the ‘real’ price, rather than the hyped price, for a commodity.

  25. grgspunk
    July 7, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I doubt th AAA market would go into a major crash like it did in 1983. A lot of it is attributed not just to a ton of poor-quality titles, but also oversaturation of the market in a short period of time, coupled with major cost overruns. Game developers were popping up left and right, investing large amounts of money into making games all at once and weren’t able to get a return on them. Once that happened to enough companies, that started the exodus from console gaming that the crash was known for.

    What sunk ET for the 2600 wasn’t just the poor quality, but the fact that Atari spent an inordinate amount of money they spent getting the license to the ET franchise and producing millions of more copies than they could sell.

    As shitty as AAA games can be at times, I’m not really seeing modern-day AAA companies oversaturating or losing consumers to the point where they can’t recoup the costs of producing their games. It’s actually somewhat stable with a large consumer base.

    On the other hand, I could actually see a crash coming with the mobile game market, particularly the freemium games. They may seem lucrative right now, but all those games rely on a tiny subsect of their playerbase to provide them over half their revenue (the whales). The costs of producing these games might seem low, but all it takes for a freemium title to fail is for their developer to either accidentally overspend on development/marketing, underestimate the costs of running the game’s servers, or outright fail to attract any whales.

    We just saw something similar happen with Cmix’s Kinoko Collection game. It didn’t even last more than a couple months.

    Considering the fact that the mobile games market it absolutely littered with freemium titles right now, a crash might be likely than we think.

  26. sanic
    July 8, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I sort of expect an indie bubble popping situation where consumers become alienated by the unending assortment of retro style pixel art indie games, and I worry about the effects of the mobile market on japanese game devs, I sort of expect games to become a lot shorter and easily stopped and started in quick sessions.

  27. Christian Prell
    Christian Prell
    July 14, 2015 at 5:47 am

    I am not quite sure which generation you are referring to with “Gen 3”, can you clarify that part? I mean I do have my guesses, but I’d rather want to be sure before adding my own thoughts. Cheers

  28. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 14, 2015 at 9:21 am


  29. Kevin Riley
    Kevin Riley
    August 6, 2015 at 5:16 am

    The ‘impending crash’ is just anotherthing gamers overhype.

    Just be critical of what you play. I started playing Mass Effect only last month. Why? Because I don’t fall for consumerism.

    Everybody demands constant saturation. And with that every experience becomes less intense.
    Not to mention that every game you play is a variant of another game you just played, ergo an less intense experience.

    Furthermore I paid €20,- total for ME 1&2 together and €20,- for ME 3. That’s €40,- for three AAA games. And you don’t have to pay premium for the most powerfull PC that can handle your game.
    You can make do with the now old version that was the ‘beast’ then. Another save:).

    Compare that to the €60,- you are spending just because you whant to have it now, now, now!
    Oh and they are fully patched. So no bugs and glitches that ruin your gaming experience.

    I have been watching angry Joe and Biscuit or something. They say you shouldn’t pre-order.
    Yet they perpetuate the notion that you should buy games in the first week of release.

    By complaining about start up problems with servers and what not. You will not suffer from these problems if you don’t buy the game in the first week.

    Let a bunch of suckers buy the game early.
    The game developer can discover all the child deceases and fix them. Because that’s what they are whining about really. Logistical problems that any new venture suffers. So for me they whine about non-problems.

    These guys probably have a lot of experience in complaining and not a lot of experience in working in large companies I think. They ‘expleted’ and whine like entitled princesses pretending like everything should be perfect on day one.
    There will always be unknows you only encounter when the venture is underway.

    I am not saying these games are good after they are fixed. Just don’t complain about stuff you know is going to be fixed. Perhaps mention them and perhaps wait a week or two with your final verdict or review.

    And well like I said earlier. If you don’t consume every game out there, experiences might just feel unique and fresh. Perhaps what gamers suffer from is self inflicted same-ness.