TheInquirer: Gaming is headed for an inevitable crash

steviep

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Hat tip to Agent420 for this one... even the Inquirer is jumping on this boat!
http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=27976

For the lazy:
WITH ALL THE HOOPLA surrounding the Xbox 360 launch, the impending release of the PS3 and the Revolution, things couldn't be better right?
Mainstream media is recognising gaming as something that a wider demographic than goths-with-guns(tm) and overweight basement dwellers do, and the industry is raking in more money than Hollywood. The problem is that they are facing the same problems as the moribund entertainment industry, and we could be on the verge of another 80s style crash.

Is the apocalypse nigh? I sure think so. The last one happened at the height of Atari's power, they were invincible, pumping out hit after hit. Pac-Man, ET, Asteroids, movie tie-ins, overflowing arcades and a rabid fan base. They were in the spotlight of the mainstream press, songs making the top 10, and money coming out of their ears. What could go wrong?

To start with, a flood of games that, for lack of a better term, sucked. There were gems, but they tended to get drowned out in a sea of mediocrity. Magazines were afraid to give big titles a bad review, and scores creeped up in the name of advertising dollars. Comic books were awash in ad pages for the latest Parker Brothers 2600 cartridge, and the magazines covering the industry were thick and glossy.

Throughout the era, there was an underlying theme, originality and creativity. Rocks floating around to shoot? Eating dots in a maze? Aliens moving left, right and inexorably downward? Centipedes? Who thinks this stuff up, and what were they taking? As an aside, from what I am told, if they were working at Atari, the answer is just about everything you can possibly imagine. Things could not possibly get better.

Then it all crashed, almost overnight. A string of big budget titles sapped the money from some companies, and the public soured after purchasing one lemon too many. The industry died, almost before anyone realized it. The 2600, Colecovision, Intellivision and others made way for a string of mediocre market failures like the 5200 and 7200, all of which probably didn't make dollar one.

The industry went dormant until a tiny playing card company from somewhere across an ocean came out with a clunky little box called the NES. Before you can say phenomenon, the industry was alive again, and has been building up steadily to this day.

Far from being the strong robust industry many see it as, the current 'next gen' consoles will probably break the industry in the same way the old one broke. It will collapse in a heap quickly, and few will lament its loss. Why? The same old reasons are there, and all but one is new.

First is the sea of mediocre titles. 90+% of them are crap, pure and simple. The old creativity is utterly dead and gone, that is the one new twist. How many games are not sequels, fight games, drivers, or FPSes? One look at the resoundingly mediocre crop of XBox 360 sports games shows there is nothing new under the sun, and they really aren't even trying. RPGs have become barely interactive PG-13 movies, and I won't even get into the whole crop of disasters that are movie tie-ins. There is one, possibly two titles a year that can be considered innovative, and that is not enough to sustain an industry.

These titles however coated with lukewarm vanilla syrup, are shockingly expensive to make. Each gen of consoles demands more and more content, and more and more detail to that content. You went from animated bitmaps to shaded polygons to textured polygons. Now, we are at the point where each and every blade of grass needs to be modeled, and every brick in a building must be unique. Artists are expensive, talented artists are more expensive, and you can't shortcut this anymore.

Programming, net code, and everything else has taken what was a job for a single person to teams of 150+. Development cycles have gone from a few months to years, a team is extremely lucky to put out a third game on any given console before it is EOLed, so experience pays off shockingly little. You have costs going from 5 digits to 8.

What does that mean? If a company rakes in $10 per title sold, they have to sell nearly a million of them to make a dollar. If you get a stinker, you can lose many millions on a title, so companies don't take chances, they can't take chances. The little creativity that was out there gets quashed to make room for 'Urban Kombat 4', a game that is like GTA, but has elements of Mortal Kombat, with all the interactivity you would expect from Counter-Strike. The driving is a lot like Need For Speed, so it just has to be a winner right?

You end up with focus grouped mediocrity, make something so simple that even an idiot would like it, and only an idiot would like it. The few huge hits drive the industry toward the abattoir of sequels and clones, no one can afford a miss. If you do miss, and everyone does occasionally, it can take your company down.

The problem is that everyone is missing by design, and high fliers are indeed popping like zits. Companies that have been around for 25 years are dying like flies, or are so weak they are desperate for anyone with a checkbook to suck them up. Acclaim was a recent victim, one with a long rich history, and a quick death. Even the biggest of names are teetering on the edge, and no one is happy. One miss, and it is, pun intended, game over for even the big guys.

You have the new gen consoles pushing costs up, economics pushing risk taking down, and prices going up. The XBox 360 titles, and presumably PS3 ones, have gone from $50 to $60, but I am at a loss as to what that 20% buys you in terms of enjoyment. To me, you get eye candy limited by the TV you play on and gameplay that did not change from the original Playstation version.

Madden 06 for the XBox 360 is a shining example of this mediocrity in action. It adds almost nothing to the previous versions, but people complain bitterly that several key features are missing, and it is buggy. Luckily, there are no sports games on the 360's compatibility list, so you can't play the old ones on the new console. Far from being an incentive to upgrade, it is a glaring neon sign flashing 'stay away if you like sports'.

Spikes of goodness are sinking beneath the waves with startling rapidity. The cost of testing one that has an interesting looking box just went up 20%, and you are more likely than ever to be disappointed. Customers don't like this. Game companies don't like this. Console makers don't like this.

There is one way out though, read reviews before you shell out a day's wages for a potential stinker, read anything you can on the game. Remember when I said in the old days there was a co-opting of magazines, that was in the pre-web 1980s? Well, now it is worse. The pestilence of flash aside, most gaming sites and magazines are so far from publishing a real review it is laughable.

If you want a good example of this, take the new Madden game. Go to the major sites and look at the scores they gave it. Read the reviews, and compare that to the numerical scores. Then look at sites that put reader ratings next to the official scores. Notice a discrepancy? For bonus points, find me a major ratings site that regularly gives out a score of 6/10 or less. Once again, they are owned.

So, you have the same situation that you did in the past, swathes of high priced boredom. Mediocrity with no way of picking the good from the bad. Anything that could help you has been co-opted, and you have to throw darts with $60 attached to each one.

Sadly, the gaming industry is in a self-imposed death spiral. Everyone is putting on a brave face, touting the latest v6 of a game that came out before most of it's audience was born. What was a fun hobby full of creative geniuses and their mad art has become a grey corporate parking lot. We are about to take that dive again, the industry is desperately trying to speed up the process with each passing day.

Rather than take a step back, they are addicted to marketing plans and money men. It will kill them, and in a few years, good will arise from the ashes. It happened with arcades, it happened with the first wave of consoles, and is about to happen again. It is high time someone flushed the toilet that the games industry has become, it will do us all a world of good. µ
 

steviep

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No no... not the supermarket tabloid. TheInquirer is basically a computer-based "tabloid" of sorts. They report a lot of rumours - often they are right many months in advance, often they are wrong. But this is just an editorial, luckily (no need for accuracy), posted by one of their staff that seems to agree with many of the vocal members of the gaming community (Iwata, Miyamoto, Specter, Wright, the list keeps on growing!) that gaming is headed toward a crash.
 

Rich Tate

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steviep said:
No no... not the supermarket tabloid. TheInquirer is basically a computer-based "tabloid" of sorts. They report a lot of rumours - often they are right many months in advance, often they are wrong. But this is just an editorial, luckily (no need for accuracy), posted by one of their staff that seems to agree with many of the vocal members of the gaming community (Iwata, Miyamoto, Specter, Wright, the list keeps on growing!) that gaming is headed toward a crash.

Although I am not a big fan of the site, which btw great summation, I think its a little short sighted.

Right now in gaming we are facing a steep decline in profit. There has just been a lack of innovation lately. The only thing I think that might be shortsighted, and we need to consider is that maybe the big names have been focusing more on their new lineup?

The Xbox 360, while not extremely title heavy looks amazing. You can expect Sony to be right there as well. Also, Nintendo is really shaking things up in their area as well.

At this point I think it's a little premature to say the gaming market is going to crash being that the 360 is going to be the hot selling item for some time to come.
 

Moose777

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I don't understand the whole "video gaming is coming to an end" hype.

Really. I was listening to NPR the other day while at work like I so frequently do since the radio sucks in general and I'd rather at least have some intellectual type of talking to drown out the road noise to.

Anyway I was listening to NPR the other day and they had a little report on video games and some guy (I forget his name) was talking about the video game industry (Computer and console...hell video games in general) is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and shows absolutely no sign of stopping or shutting down.
 

clownvomit

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Its not just gaming, and to think the way most of us are about this topic is a little arrogant. With the exception of a few industries EVERYONES' sales are in a steap decline.

Lets face it, people have less money. Site whatever reason you'd like (our government has a lot to do with it, NAFTA, GATT, etc...in my opinion) America's working class has less money. Most American's have less money. Inflation is up, and so is the unemployment rate. I could go on and on, but I think most of you feel me on this one.

Of course lack of innovation takes its toll, along with all of the other reasons outlined above but these are all problems that the gaming industry can rectifiy (if they choose to). I have a feeling though that most would not like to take a chance, make something new, tank, and lose tons of money in the wake of declining sales.

It's a crap situation, and from what I can see, it'll only get worse from here.
 

finalgt

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I want it to crash. I don't like the direction it's heading. And I'm tired of arguments over which console is better always falling back on graphics as the crux...it used to be which games were more fun, not which ones more obviously had a $27 million budget. It needs to be that way again.

Paging Circuitbreaker to thread, Circuitbreaker to thread with pictures of PGR3 and X360 propaganda...
 

Moose777

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finalgt said:
I want it to crash. I don't like the direction it's heading. And I'm tired of arguments over which console is better always falling back on graphics as the crux...it used to be which games were more fun, not which ones more obviously had a $27 million budget. It needs to be that way again.
I agree. I think everyone needs to step back. And go back to their roots and into the garages and basements where they began. They need to start making games that were fun again. Back to when a guy could do it with $1k in his pocket.
 

MrGuvernment

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Oh god not ANOTHER ONE

gee - last year

"pc gaming is going down the tubes with consoles coming!"

the years before that gaming is dieing!!

no one is going to game EVER again YADDA YADDA!


i dont plan to stop gaming and i am sure alot more of you wont either!
 

Prim3

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Guys, its gonna crash.. And it's gonna crash hard. The games my be getting pretty, but a lot of titles are starting to not be fun or lack/short as hell. I am getting kinda upset playing a game that has great start and good story and it's over even before you play the game for 3 days. I remember PS/N64 games taking a week-two weeks of invested time to beat a game. I guess this is kinda why I get drawn into MMO's, long, takes forever to do, and feels like you did something. Pushing graphics and hardware advancements has always been the game industry but the games did also have really good titles behind them. These companies stating, ya only major sure to be a hit and sequel/remakes are prob gonna be made. This is gonna kill them and it's gonna kill them fast. (goodbye2uEA) There is damn good reason why poeple still play CS a game that is almost 7 years old and even a few others are still damn hot to play. It's the gameplay folks, not the Graphics or what a piece of brick does when it gets shot. The industry has a chance to save itself, and thats to get un-lazy and start being like it was in 99-02.


(and yes, if games keep on the track they are... I will only be playing old games becuase it's getting not worth the upgrade cost or buying a new console to play these damn cookie-cutter games. I want innovation and gameplay damn it, not another EA sports being mass marketed every year.)
 

Rich Tate

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^^ I agree with your point on longer games. That is one reason why I have always loved the FF series. I might put a 100+ hours in for the plot and subs, but I got my moneys worth when I'm done. ;)

Also keep in mind the ever growing development cycle. Last year saw WoW, MGS3, GTA:SA etc. This year hasn't had as many huge, high selling titles. Also coupled with the fact that people are getting pissed they spend 50 bucks for an updated game, like the Madden series.
 

DermicSavage

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Sorry to squash your high horses guys, but this system will not crash any time soon.

True that this industry is filled with mediocrity to US.
One thing it does not look at is the average gamer that drives this industry all together. These are not the guys that started playing back in the good ole NES or even SNES days.
These average gamers that support the whole of the industry had started playing video games at early as the Playstation era, where this quality declien was already sharply noticeable.
With age comes new people who do not know the greatness of the past, and allows the industry to easily make do with lower quality games, since there vioce of the gamers no longer belongs to the people who knew of the olden days. This is why many people would go to say that Halo 2 was a good game, and also why reviewers give good reviews to these games.
 

arentol

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There is a major problem with this guys reasoning. While it's nice to point out similarities between current situations and past situations you really can't use that as a predictor of future outcomes unless you also can argue that there are no significant differences.

Let me give you some quick examples of a vital differences in this case....

PC gaming didn't really exist during the 80's crash but now PC's are in homes, and will be for the forseeable future. That's a lot of available gaming machines in the hands of a lot of people regardless of how consoles do.

The only people that had grown up with gaming in the 80's were kids born in the 70's and later, and they had no real income to prop up the industry with when older people lost interest. Today people born in the 70's, 80's, and 90's have all grown up with gaming, and plenty of people born in the 60's have gotten reasonable exposure now too. Thats a lot more people interested in the industries products than they had in the 80's.

The list of differences goes on and on, but those 2 alone will keep the industry going regardless.
 

pistola

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That argument is as valid as the ones saying the movie industry and music industry are doomed too. More laughable than anything.
 

finalgt

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...well, the music industry IS doomed, but only because it keeps suing its biggest customers.
 

steviep

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pistola said:
That argument is as valid as the ones saying the movie industry and music industry are doomed too. More laughable than anything.

QFT!! How many movies don't even break even anymore? What are CD sales like again?
 

Calavaro

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Not many people have been gaming since the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Spectrum, Intellivision and so on.
I have.
The Atari 2600 had a few good games, but 100's of total crap games. It was great when you were able to find one of the good ones.
Then came Ninteno and Sega with their 8-bit machines.
The early games were so so, but Super Mariop Bros. was spectacular. It was sidescrolling, took forever to finish and it was FUN!! Same thing with Wonder Boy for the Sega Master System. Hours on end of FUN!
RPG's on the SMS were great too, more "mature" and "japanese" than on the NES. NES got their hits with mass appeal though. Metroid, Kid Icarus and Zelda to name a few.
Then the mediocre titles started to surface... lots of them. You had to rent games, and you beat them in less than 24 hours, and rarely did you buy any.

Enter 16-bit consoles.
A great boost in many areas, specially sound and visuals. But the games also became more advanced, with new controllers and games were less restrictive (ie. free to go anywhere).

Enter Saturn, Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PS2, XBOX
Here you start to see a pattern of incremental graphics improvements, a little tweaking of controllers but teh same damn games over and again.
Resident Evil was great... then it has been rehashed 6-7 times (I think).
Silent Hill was wonderful, but then it was more of the same again and again...
EA's sports series... wonderful when it was first introduced on the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive). Now? oh comon...

XBOX 360... YAY better GFX but version 3,4,5,6, 97865782265 of games released 20 years ago.... no thanks.

PS3, I'm *guessing* it will be very similar to the XBOX 360.

Nintendo Revolution.
Now this looks interesting.. at least it's not more of the same... yes, there will be version 264576 of Zelda, Metroid, Mario etc. Hopefully they'll really show us what the remote/wand/gyro can do.

/2 cents worth...
 

Torgo

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I hear talk about another Crash of '84 that's supposed to happen, but I don't see it. I see bad times and droughts of creativity. If a crash were to occur, then the timing would be about right in about 6 months or so. For any crisis to occur there would either have to be an excess of titles with very little buying or a dearth of titles because of a lack of capital. This could happen with the new console launches. The launches themselves take a huge investment of captial which is only returned by game sales. If the titles don't appear and sell, then yeah, a crash might happen. Frankly, I don't see it happening but I definitely see some trouble.

Oh, and for what it's worth, Stainless Studios closed it's doors last week. Thanks Midway for not floating the company another few months.
 

Xeero

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i see we have another halo hater in here. sigh.... i guess some people just don't understand one aspect that made halo so great. anyways,

theinq has some very valid points. even though this opinion on this subject is way too extreme, the writer does bring up some very valid points. with the on going trend of better graphics but not better gameplay or storyline, what eventually will happen?
 

agent420

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I'm waiting for photo-real graphics so we can have a Sims based rehash of yet another reality tv show. Look how real that cow uterus looks when I make her chew it!

As long as people buy the systems the companies will make them, quality is not an issue. People are sheep following the media shepard.
 

banned_user

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i agree that this generation is going to be less significant than the last, but its not going to die altogether. Microsoft and sony have not impresed me to much with the designs of thier new systems. The hard drive is going to be underused/supported in these new systems and the A.I. isn't going to improve much. Im actually looking toward nintendo for something that is innovative, but hopefully not focused entirely on children.
 

Json23

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Lol, speak for yourself Inquirer.

I can tell which games suck regardless of who is paid off to say it is good or bad, don't assume we are all stupid.

And I also enjoy those sequals that you seem to look down on. HL2, Doom 3, Command and Conquer Generals... the list could go on. While some were better than others, they all were entertaining to me.

I don't like that damn Katamari game, so take your constant need for "innovation" and shove it up your collective inquiring asses. I like FPSes, I like strategy games, I like platformers, and I like sequals to good games, and I do consider better graphics and better physics in a sequal game to be an "innovation".

As a matter of fact, the only thing that MIGHT make me get something because it is "innovative" is if Nintendo can deliver some fun games with the Revolution controller.
 

urbsnspices

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Meh....I said meh.

Wether or not you think this is going to happen, who cares. I was playing PC games through the supposed 'crash'. Alot of companies went away and a ton replaced them, meh.
 

bonkrowave

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Doomsday scenarios are moronic, the only thing that surpasses these "sky is falling" rants, is the ineptitude of the inquirer.

Sequels are fine, people need to stop bashing them. WoW is a sequel, albeit a new format, but a sequel never the less, and it seems to be doing ok. As did Halo 2, HL2, quake 4, the list goes on.

If a sequel to Tie Fighter / X-wing / Starcraft were to be released right now, it would dominate the video game market.

As usual the inquirers arguments hold no water.
 

El Nacho

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Xeero said:
i see we have another halo hater in here. sigh.... i guess some people just don't understand one aspect that made halo so great. anyways,


what aspect was that? I'm not trying to start a flame war, I just dont understand....
 

Genocidal[v2]

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Torgo said:
Oh, and for what it's worth, Stainless Studios closed it's doors last week. Thanks Midway for not floating the company another few months.

What is going to happen to Rise & Fall? That was due for a release soon.
 

pistola

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Every Industry has peaks and drop outs. But that doesn't mean that the industry is doomed to death, it’s just forced to change. CD sales may be down, but its forced companies to drop CD prices and move into the digital age via the internet. CD sales may be down but internet sales are up. Last I looked popular music still make people like 50 cent RICH. The movie industry is pretty good as well, unless you make a really crappy movie that no one wants to see, but then that’s your fault. Most movies don't even break even in the box office but come out of the red in DVD sales. The good movies come out with a profit in the box office, like the Current installment of the Harry Potter series Goblet of Fire. Which is currently grossing over $200 million. Not to mention merchandise and DVD sales. The auto industry isn't too hot right now, doesn't mean it’s doomed.

Right now video games are a hot and growing market. I personally don't see a decline anytime soon, the industry still has a lot of room to grow and expand. I am sure it will hit a slump sometime, but I can't see that happening within the next 5 years.

Edit-- I also wanted to comment about Halo, I'm not a Halo hater per-say, however I don't look at Halo as being the "industry changing" game that people make it out to be. I see it as an ok FPS game for Xbox, there’s nothing really groundbreaking or cutting edge about it. It’s a solid well made game, but not the God-like creation that it’s perceived as.
 

Attean

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He's quoting the obvious and I do think people are getting fed up. Even the retards get bored with EA after a while. I think the revolution may actually do well because of this. He's wrong in saying the industry is "doomed", but the honeymoon of profiteering is almost over.
 
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As I have mentioned previously on another thread, I suppose I am not what you would call an avid gamer but I am extremely picky when it comes to games.

In my views, the problem with things as far as it goes within the last year and the future in gaming is the fact that developers are not spending enough time or financing on plot, character design, storylines, overall gameplay and quality of not only the physics but the actual flow of the game. Yes eyecandy is nice and yes effects and graphics are surrealistic in the way they are handled now but the problem lies in the fact that people are bored of it, just like they are bored with reality TV and just like they were bored with huge over the top action/adventure that had so many lovely effects but lacking a decent plot.

A few months ago, before Saw 2 came out, I was developing a game idea and storyline that came very close to actually mimicing the movie. (You have NO Idea how pissed off I was when I saw the first preview) My idea was more plot based with a few of my older ideas that would allow the player to change certain patterns at the beginning with a few selective pyschological profile choices that would determine different aspects in the gameplay and the style area you would be in. Unfortunately, I never bothered finishing the outline and put it on the back burner (What the hell do I know about game design anyway?). At least the principle was a bit original to a degree and thats the problem with many developers now I think. They prefer originality when it comes to close-to-photorealistic graphics and design rather than pushing toward the storylines, the actual game itself. Farcry is one of the few that actually had the best of both worlds to a point but that still could be rather boring after a time. I only played it at a friends house though.

At any rate, I have always felt that there was a real lack decent plot, storyline and overall gameplay within the recent gaming communitys. You have FPS's that, while the weapons and eyecandy is different, its pretty much the same other than the storylines. You have MMORPGS that, though are my favorites, almost all are relatively following the same type of outline. Racing games, no matter who makes them, typically ends up being covered in dust after a few weeks or months. Then you have the RPG's that, if they don't look like a Saturday Afternoon Anime special then they don't get made.

Whether this prophetic article will be accurate or not at this point doesn't really matter. Maybe it might give a few developers a good kick in the their mass media loving butts and actually "Develop" rather than just copy each other over and over again.

-SB
 

digiram

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I think that the rate at which gaming has expanded or advanced is directly related to the advancement in technology. So long as technology continues to advance so will gaming. If one were to crash the other goes with it.

Take for example, the advancement of most high end PC equipment is needed not for running Word Proccessors and Spreadsheets at the speed of light, but to increase the ability to crunch numbers in complex graphics programming. Why do you think people on this forum discuss new hardware day in day out? Because they want to educate themselves about what it's going to take to have better IQ in the games they play. (well, some people just love killing the crap out of thier stuff, but that's another topic)

So, in regards to the Inq. article, I agree that innovattion and creativity is few and far in between now a days. Which is due, mainly, to the corporate money man take over of the industry, and the incredible amount of uneducated sheep like gamers that the industry continue to herd. However, I don't agree with the possibility of the gaming industry crashing in the manner of what occured with Atari in the 80's. Given the fact that the rate at which technology(not just in the hardware sector) is moving has not been slowing down at all.
 

Pantherboy

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I see another crash coming... but not as big as before. I really don't see them burying another 100,000 games in the desert (ala' ET for the 2600) but with the "small" innovations I see it bottoming out. Only time will tell though...
 

Slartibartfast

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I think that the industry is not going to so much crash as turn 90 degrees or so. I think people are going to find the x360 and ps3 to be rather boring, they're going to sell poorly, and then the industry is going to wake up. The revolution might accelerate this or it might be inconsequential. Either way, gaming is not attracting new audiences at any reasonable rate (last I checked the industry's growth rate was around 7% annually which is comparable to population growth; ideal growth for a burgeoning industry is about 25%) and the current audience is getting frustrated. The people who say the industry is fine and getting better are just as clueless as those who deny global warming,
 

ShuttleLuv

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Games started dying about 5 years ago if you ask me. Sequel, sequel, sequel. Blech. About the only "sequels" I tolerate are online fps' because the gameplay is always fresh playing online and I'm a competitive gamer online.
 

steviep

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Slartibartfast said:
I think that the industry is not going to so much crash as turn 90 degrees or so. I think people are going to find the x360 and ps3 to be rather boring, they're going to sell poorly, and then the industry is going to wake up. The revolution might accelerate this or it might be inconsequential. Either way, gaming is not attracting new audiences at any reasonable rate (last I checked the industry's growth rate was around 7% annually which is comparable to population growth; ideal growth for a burgeoning industry is about 25%) and the current audience is getting frustrated. The people who say the industry is fine and getting better are just as clueless as those who deny global warming,

QFT. I think you almost took the words out of Reggie Fils-Aime's mouth, in his speech from a few weeks back.
 

eastvillager

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 23, 2004
Messages
1,093
I was around for the first crash, and of an age to understand it, fyi.

The current industry has the same core flaw that caused the first crash (a sea of mediocre titles in which a very few good games were as castaways). It also has another issue, the increased complexity, thus increased cost, thus increased time to market, thus greatly increased risk involved in financing a new game.

Something is going to happen, whether or not you want to call it a crash is up to you, but it will happen, and is happening.
 
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