Hello, one and all.
So a switch from what I’ve been talking about previously in my articles. I thought I might delve a little into the gaming market and what affects it and perhaps a little history. This will in no way be a comprehensive look at all, and I won’t be going into numbers or stocks, this isn’t wall street after all.
Anyway, I hope it’s a fun little read!
A little history to start us off
Video games have been around for decades and started with pong consoles. Yes, an entire console devoted solely to pong but brought into the home. From there, things developed further and further with the games getting more advanced and turning into cartridge-based consoles.
Home computers then started to appear on the market. Very basic to start with, the games were often played from cassettes that would sometimes take minutes to load the game. As the market grew so did the number of companies pumping out products. This, of course, led to a higher percentage of awful merchandise being sold in shops and third party manufacturers were also taking advantage and making unlicensed games due to there largely being no laws or rules in place to stop this. The market became massively over-saturated with garbage.
Consumer confidence was affected massively, and things over in America were hit the worst as personal computers started to outsell the consoles. By 1983 the video game market effectively crashed in America and many companies were forced to go into bankruptcy. This wasn’t as heavily felt in Europe or Japan, but it did cause a massive shift in the market from the leader in the video game industry switching to Japan and by late 1985 two major companies came out of the crash. Nintendo and Sega.
It also caused licensing to be introduced, pioneered by Nintendo to stop the illegal manufacturing of third party software, although on the older consoles and machines it was still a problem. But the crash back in 1983-85 largely led to many of the measures we see in place for gaming today.
The modern market
The place we are at today in video gaming is massively more stable. Consoles and Personal Computers have healthy competition and games are more often than not released on multiple platforms with some exceptions being console exclusives.
There are many online stores within the PC demographic where games can be purchased and downloaded digitally. In fact, the only things to still have physical copies of games in the main are consoles. Although as technology improves on them they can hold more information on their hard drives and digital downloads are starting to happen more on consoles too.
Thankfully while the market is astronomically larger compared to back in the 80s, there is so much choice of good quality products that another crash is highly unlikely. And due to the internet, there is far more information out there for people to avoid purchasing the garbage that some dubious companies try to sell. However, it’s not all good news, the big gaming companies have taken to including large amounts of microtransactions within their products, mostly in the form of ‘loot boxes’. This is largely considered a predatory practice, especially towards children and those who have issues with gambling. Governments are starting to take notice and are investigating and trying to pass legislation to counter these practices.
Streaming, does it affect things?
Largely I would say yes. But why?
As streaming grows and the platforms that host the streams grow with it games are having a really easy time getting out to the public, there is even a viewing platform for retro and older games. Honestly streaming has more of an effect on things than I think people realize.
I know I’ve personally seen some older games played, thought they looked cool and bought them from a digital store like GOG.
The market is only getting larger and larger as time progresses and this will lead to further innovation in the future. VR has already taken off massively and while it was attempted years ago it was never thought to ever be able to actually exist, but here we are.
With the growing popularity of gaming throughout the years, it was inevitable for some sort of sport to be made out of it, as hard as it is to believe for some people that gaming could be considered a sport.
But there are several competitive games out there have an E-sport competition and a large following. Hearthstone, Starcraft, League of Legends. To name a few. And while it’s had its controversies over the years as any sport has the E-sport scene is only growing.
As games die off and shrink others take their place and new players rise to the forefront with the chance of taking part in these competitions with a chance at winning sometimes a large cash sum. I find it really quite amazing how much the gaming scene continues to grow through all of its ups and downs.
Where will it go from here?
As innovation and technology only continue to get better and better the sky is the limit in my opinion. The advent of streaming has meant that if a game catches a large enough crowd it can largely affect sales, at the time of writing Among Us is an example of this. A simple game at its core about trying to find a murderer or murderers within a group of people as they go about trying to complete tasks. It has a large online presence right now, so much so it’s become a trend to play it.
I don’t envision another crash, and while predatory sales practices continue with the larger gaming companies I have a hope that they will be controlled by rules and regulations as we go into future if not stopped altogether. Hopefully, this will kick developers and publishers into making better quality games without pumping out content designed to milk people’s wallets.
And I’m starting to get off track, but as you can likely tell I have an issue with lockboxes and the triple-A market.
But that’s for a future article.