Back in the dark ages of gaming, the industry of Video Game Entertainment had such a wide and bright future ahead of it, especially when it was able to survive through several problems that were hurled against it, ERSB, location locking and lawsuits. Since then companies have died, scrounged together, formed into one or became a shining beacon of hope for would be developers. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft are just a few names that have been on the scene for the longest and are definitely the biggest game and console companies still around, with having almost a monopoly on Gaming Consoles, limiting the variety to 3 main home consoles.
The death of companies was hard felt, with amazing companies like Genki, Travellers Tales and similar companies that had only a few games to their name being disbanded, absorbed or bought out. Gems were around every corner back in the day, with games like Jade Cocoon, Final Fantasy 7, Digimon World, Broken Sword, Crash Bandicoot and Shin Megami Tensei. The games were unique, new and appealing to a slowly growing group known as gamers, with games pulling at heart strings, requiring tactical thought or engaging you in a long and amazing storyline like no other game before it had done. Games we loved fell from view, they got tossed aside along with their parents or they were turned into cash cows and mascots for the new leaders and it was a sad time in the transition from niche gaming to casual and hard-core gaming.
Fast Forward several years to the 2000’s to recent years, companies are on every street corner, both Triple A and indie alike, with many homes harbouring just graduated students making a game for the first time to sell or a long time developer housed in a small flat-turned-office. Back in the day we were lucky to get a “good” game every couple of months, nowadays we are given around 5 a week and sadly in the words of Albert Wesker we have ensured “Complete Global Saturation” and the Uroboros is both Consumers and Developers alike. Just like how machines have taken over the jobs of manual labour, the gaming industry is shelling out game after game, hoping for an easy profit or to show the world your “creativity” and the world has become somewhat spoilt for choice, from the dating Sims, anime-styled and cutesy games to the action, gore or even adventure games that line the shelves of gaming stores and supermarkets alike.
Compared from what people could afford only a few centuries ago, we have over 4 times the amount of electrical entertainment systems in our homes, sometimes per person. While this is good for the developers and independent studios it also creates a long lasting problem for the future of our games. While it isn’t nice to think, the gaming industry is just that an Industry and they will see the numbers and the profit margins when they release a new console or a new game and they will jump on it as quickly as possible. It takes only one success for a company to get Pound/Dollar/Yen signs in their eyes, with series like Final Fantasy hitting over 17 games on home consoles simply because it is the game that saved them, handhelds like the DS that has DSLite, DSi, DSi Xl, 3DS, 2DS, New 3DS with the console only have slight differences between release but still shipping enough units to warrant another iteration.
Aside from looking at the years gone by and what the companies are doing themselves we should also look to ourselves as consumers to hold some of the blame. We buy games and consoles for several reasons, which objectively could be very wrong, from brand loyalty with people buying a PlayStation simply to back Sony, peer pressure from their friends telling them to get a Xbox 360 to play with them or pre-ordering a game before truly seeing the game in its fullest besides it cutscenes and actually looking at its flaws. The community has become more focal of late, with the changes being asked for the Xbox One and having the system undergo several changes before release, however we still have a way to go, with concerns and dissatisfactions about games and consoles only being made AFTER we have purchased them, by then the company has made a sale and another notch is added to the great writ of “Make More”
I have spoken of Saturation already, and how when we buy without full understanding a game or console increases the companies demand for milking the release and it all points to one thing, the Gaming Crash from around 1983. The major cause that people believed in was the Saturation of Consoles on the market with around 11 different consoles able to be bought, either computer based, console, handheld or arcade. Another reason was the multitude of rushed games or poorly funded ones from small companies that didn’t really hit the mark of quality that is expected from Gaming Entertainment, ruining the reputation of games as a whole and the consoles they were released for.
Now we have 3 main home consoles with a few smaller ones for the niche market, 2 different handhelds, mobile gaming as well as the Computer being accepted more and more as a gaming platform by both developers and Gamers. Against the 11 back in 1983 we are around 7-10 consoles deep, with the new Gen of Xbox One and PS4 hitting shelves and people’s homes we are hitting a definite 9 in the console department. We are also seeing a slew of rushed and poorly funded games from both big studios and Indies alike. World War Z being a “rip-off” of another with plenty of missing features and glitches, Duke Nukem Forever with its boring gameplay and reused story, combined with movie games that are just poor overall.
We have ticked two of the boxes that cause a Gaming Crash, Saturation and low quality. But what can we do? Developers like us? Consumers like us? Sadly that isn’t something I have the absolute answer to, like any other reviewer or person out there I can only give my opinion and suggestion. Research, Learn and improve; Research your game or console before putting in a pre-order or purchase, make sure it is a good buy without glitches and asinine design as well as watching videos or read articles to get more than one view. Learn to try new genres out and to LOVE games rather than like them only for their good parts, Tidus had a painful laugh for a reason. And lastly improve yourself, improve your understanding of gaming as a whole, the audience for certain games and what consumers come to expect from a game or console.
We survived a game crash before, we can do it again.
Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu was and is still my favourite game of all time and it came out in 1999 and was developed by Genki. If I still haven’t found another game to compete with a 15 year old game then that is a sign that Game Design still has a way to go.