The State of the Industry

So I have been observing some things of late (late being the last year), and with the current state of THQ going bust, Atari going bankrupt (again), and just reading about the release of GTA Vice City on PSN I just wanted to bounce this off the sounding board.

The end question is what is the state of the industry? Is it good, bad, neither…and whatever it is, will it continue to be that way (or progress in that manner)?

See, we are suffering from a long console generation that is finally coming to a close, but the desire for new consoles is mixed. Basically, I think people want them, but they just don’t want to pay a lot of money since it is scarcer these days due to the economy. What we get is a lackluster enthusiasm from the core video game consumer base. Don’t get me wrong, judging from the numbers the Wii U is doing really well, as good if not better than the Wii. But people just don’t talk about it that way.

Publishers and Developers are struggling. I don’t think anybody wants to admit it, but they are. They don’t have the broad cash flow to work on a zillion projects with a gazillion people on each one. They toned down the projects, and toned down the employee count on them. We are thus seeing less games releasing and deadlines being pushed back. Plus, they are attempting to balance the digital market along with it all. For instance, EA is focusing heavily on their mobile games (and they are actually really good if you haven’t tried them). That is a good thing overall in my mind, but it is money and efforts away from the PC/Console world.

Then we have classic gaming. There is this niche where older games have been resurrected to new life. It is a good thing. I love it. I really saw it starting when Sony released the God of War Collection since they removed BC from the PS3. It allowed people to play the old game again, have a wonderful HD remake of it with all the perks, supported their GoW3 release, and brought more people to the game if they missed it before or brought old lovers back to replay the classics. That is awesome. Rinse and repeat right? But now we have tons of those. And I don’t argue that we shouldn't or that they are bad, that is not what I believe at all. But let us look at the proportions. Realistically the proportions probably aren't too large but there are lots of new venues as well. Besides the HD remake, there is the Classic release (where there is no HD clean up) like the just announced Vice City, then there are the handheld games (like the surged desire to play PS1 games on the Vita), and the mobile games as phones and tablets are now more powerful than old consoles were. Again, that is all great, but is it too much? I mean, I don’t really get excited about seeing a 10+ year old game now available again. I like the option, but really, it just isn't a great thing to me. But that seems to be filling the dead space of the lack of new games these days.

So my take on the whole industry is fairly negative. Not in an internet complaining way, but in the fact that I don’t really see the blood start to pump when new things are announced. I think the market is stale so people, both publishers and consumers have stale enthusiasm.

I think gamers are also a little more cautious of their games now. For me Uncharted 3 was a let down even though I loved UC1 and 2. For a lot of people Resident Evil 6 was a huge let down and I understand why. Long term franchises like COD are really boring now. So the name isn't really good enough anymore. We need to see some proof in the pudding so to speak.

So do I see it getting better? Maybe. I have basically seen it get worse, but perhaps after E3 the excitement levels will rise dramatically. But then again, I hoped that for last year and look what we got…Wonderbook.

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