Why has there been no crash like in 1983

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scotland171
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby scotland171 » January 11th, 2015, 11:40 am

In the US, there was the infamous crash of 1983.   The reasons cited are: 1) too many consoles  2) competition from family computers  3) the rise of 3rd parties  4) high profile failures

The funny part is that, aren't all of these true today, and have been for awhile? 

Competition between consoles, portables, PCs, laptops, phones and tablets, and more has never been keener.   3rd party shovelware is alive and well and living among us.   Mobile gaming in particular seems awash in shovelware, like a recent Princess Bride game.  Maybe we have not had a high profile failure like E.T. or Pac-Man, but things like the recent network issues around Christmas have very little repurcussions.  

My guess is that gaming in 1983 was still so new, that at the first serious trouble business ran from gaming as if it were just a passing fad, like ukeles  and disco.  Now gaming is so entrenched, so affordable, so mainstream, so varied, so cross generational, that it seems inconceivable that there could be another crash.  Then again, inconceivable things do happen.

Given the view from 2015, what do you think the real reason for the American video game correction of 1983 was? 

Is there a reasonable chance of any of the segments of video gaming withering away?  If so, which one, and what would it take? 


HardcoreSadism1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby HardcoreSadism1 » January 11th, 2015, 12:41 pm

I think we're assimilating into PC's or "hybrid systems" rather than gaming-primary consoles. 

TV Stick devices are not only a cheaper alternative to Cable TV, but they bring the smartphone gaming to the big screen.

PC's have an increasingly open architecture, to the point where our next PlayStation, Xbox, and even Nintendo (gasp!) should hybridize the ecosystem.

From what I can gather, the first 'Market Liquidation' (Crash) was a result of questionable practices such as releasing intentionally bogged down software between first party (hardware) manufacturers.

I'd point out the hardware manufacturing process was an enabling factor, such as a Coleco-branded 2600 with fancier controllers.

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VideoGameCritic
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 11th, 2015, 1:06 pm

Scotland,
Great topic, and I think you pretty much nailed it.  At the time video games were viewed as a passing fad.  The crash was more of a crisis in perception than reality.  It was a bunch of white-colar businessmen in a panic because the demand was no longer growing at a rapid rate.

Yes, there was a glut and sales suffered, but the public's appetite for games never wavered.  In fact, Atari was surprised in 1984 that the Atari 2600 was still selling a substantial number of units.  Of course, it was around that time that Nintendo took advantage of the situation and launched the NES.

In retrospect those companies that got out of the business made a huge mistake.  Had they weathered the storm, we might be playing Intellivision 9 today, instead of Intellivision Flashback.

Look at the companies who did stick it out, like Activision and EA.  They have built huge empires.

BanjoPickles1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby BanjoPickles1 » January 11th, 2015, 2:10 pm

Gaming is no longer the niche hobby that it used to be, for starters. I believe that the 2600 sold 12 million units over it's twelve year run. That's a vast difference from the 22 million the GameCube sold, which was considered a disappointment.

How many different genres existed back then? You had space shooters, maze chasers, racing games, and the earliest forms of what became the platforming genre (i.e. Pitfall, Donkey Kong, etc.). Coupled with the primitive technology, it's easy to see why the industry was inundated with games that were either poor or simply carbon copies of pre-existing ideas. Today, you have sports, platformers, first person shooters, schmupps, open world, action, survival horror, puzzle games, games with retro themes, simulations, adventure, jrpg's, MMO's, western RPG's, party games, kart racers, story-based games, arcade-style games, rail shooters, strategy games, hack-and-slash, beat-em-ups, dungeon crawlers, etc. You can play solo, split screen, with people from all over the globe, etc.

The difference is choice. All the industry had back then were boundaries, and those boundaries no longer exist. A lot of people complain about patches, but I see their worth. Imagine, buying a copy of PAC Man 2600, and voicing your utter disappointment in the final product, only to have the creator of the game release a patch to clean up the bugs? Broken games were broken forever in that era.

Gaming was serious business back then, but today it is an empire every bit as large and lucrative as the film industry! At least one console, since the 32-bit era, has sold 100 million consoles! In twenty years, the following systems have sold 100+ million:

-PS1 (101 million, I believe)
-PS2 (150+ million)
-DS (150+ million)
-Wii (101 million)

There's also a world of difference between how Kaz Harai runs Sony, and how Nolan Bushnell, and Ray Kassar, ran Atari. Kassar didn't want to pay his developer adequately, or give them recognition. From what I understand, Sony treats third-parties very well.

A lot of people don't know this, but there WAS almost another crash in the mid-90's. It took Donkey Kong Country and the release of the PS1 to revive the industry.

Weekend_Warrior1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby Weekend_Warrior1 » January 11th, 2015, 2:14 pm

The biggest problem came when Nolan Bushnell sold Atari, and the new people that took over had absolutely no genuine interest in video games - it was just another business. And they treated all the employees and developers that helped make the company profitable, just like crap. Before that, it was all about having fun. Atari was well-known for throwing wild parties with lots of open drug use. But once Nokan sold out, things became more serious znd people felt like they were being treated unfairly. And of course the fun and creativity of the next wave of games suffered as a result. I believe Activision may have still been making decent games, but the other games produced in-house were garbage. Eventually, the market became over-saturated with garbage and led to the gaming crash.

JWK1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby JWK1 » January 11th, 2015, 2:28 pm

While you're certainly correct about competition from PC gaming, ios/android gaming, F2P gaming, etc. and while developers DO lose money sometimes, it's the exception.  Thing is, as much as the industry talked for a while about the "death of console gaming" it's consistently more popular every generation.  The competition to console gaming, if it really can be considered competition, does nothing but get people interested in the medium and leads to more adopters.

And while developers during the 7th generation had some legitimate trouble and shut their doors, this was the exception, not the rule.  I'm stating simply what I've read on the internet, but Irrational Games was probably the most drastic example; $100M to develop Bioshock Infinite and $100M to advertise it.  I have no idea who funded these pipe dreams, but they're kicking themselves now.  Needless to say, lots and lots of money was lost and Irrational Games closed their doors and are now trying Kickstarter projects.  Quite the turnaround.  Otherwise, this "developers are facing poverty" crap was mostly hyped up by the likes of David Cage and his ilk seeing trophies and claiming that people were "stealing" his game by borrowing it from a friend, renting or purchasing it on the used market.  Cliffy B. made things worse by essentially saying the current model was unsustainable and that Draconian DRM via Microsoft's One was the only way to "save" gaming.  Never mind the fact that both of those individuals are fabulously wealthy because of this terrible, IP stealing model, but they're dead wrong.  If you purchase a game, it's yours.  You own it.  You can do whatever you want with it just like any other product.  Will that change in the future?  Sure.  Though I hate not owning something physically and I hate how dependent the PS4 and XBox One are to the internet and patches, I've sort of warmed up to the idea of SOME digital-only gaming.  Otherwise, modern 2D gaming would be pretty much dead.  Getting Dragon's Crown on a disc?  That's a gift, friends.  One that might not happen again.

Vexer1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby Vexer1 » January 11th, 2015, 3:53 pm

I don't see another crash like that happening again, though I could potentially see the mobile gaming market going through a huge downturn if companies keep on pushing terrible Cow-clicker(I.E. games that have no real actual gameplay and are only designed to drain your wallet) games like Dungeon Keeper Mobile, Star Trek Trexels and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest on consumers.

PAAppleyard1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby PAAppleyard1 » January 12th, 2015, 7:09 am

I think Scotland has got it right. Although as has already been mentioned I think the 1983 crash was a suspected crash rather than anything more.

People seem to buy games consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One just because it's seems like a popular thing to own rather than in my childhood gamers where looked on as social outcasts. Gamers bought consoles because of a pain for gaming.

I buy as many Atari 2600 and Megadrive games as I do modern games for the Wii U and PC.

gleebergloben1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby gleebergloben1 » January 12th, 2015, 2:25 pm

[QUOTE=Weekend_Warrior]The biggest problem came when Nolan Bushnell sold Atari, and the new people that took over had absolutely no genuine interest in video games - it was just another business. And they treated all the employees and developers that helped make the company profitable, just like crap. Before that, it was all about having fun. Atari was well-known for throwing wild parties with lots of open drug use. But once Nokan sold out, things became more serious znd people felt like they were being treated unfairly. And of course the fun and creativity of the next wave of games suffered as a result. I believe Activision may have still been making decent games, but the other games produced in-house were garbage. Eventually, the market became over-saturated with garbage and led to the gaming crash. [/QUOTE]

I'm not sure if this led to the market crash of 1983, but Weekend Warrior does bring up a very good point of what happened to Atari after Bushnell sold it in 1976. Atari was all about engineering and research and development, but most importantly, having fun. Bushnell's saying was "Work smart, not hard", and there was a constant flow of communication, which always breeds creativity. But when Atari was sold to Warner Communications, Atari did a 180 and employees were almost viewed with contempt. Also, Atari became very, very compartmentalized, so communication was pretty much nil. In addition, Atari's marketing thought ANYTHING could be made into a game, even a Rubik's Cube game. But as VP of Atari International said "Please explain to me why the real Rubik's Cube, which cost 4 bucks and I can take it anywhere I want is not better than a 40 dollar version that I have to play on my TV?" Why indeed. People who knew nothing about video games were now making the big decisions; what could possibly go wrong?

Rob Fulop, the guy who co-founded Imagic, made Missile Command for the 2600, and it made Atari a boat-load of cash. Fulop received an envelope, and Fulop was expecting a big bonus check; it was a gift certificate for a free Turkey. Wow. He left Atari shortly thereafter. Atari's view was game programmers were no more important than the secretary or the guy working the line. Sorry, but that's just not true. Not to say that secretaries and people working the line aren't important, but in a gaming company, your game developers are your bread and butter, something Atari never understood.

There are a bunch of reasons for the crash of 1983, but it appears the main reasons were:

1. Over-saturation of games and consoles.
2. The availability of cheaper computers.

Once Activision (the first 3rd party developer), everybody and their mother started making video games. I think from 1981 to 1982, game companies increased dramatically; and many of the games made were complete crap. Once these game companies went out of business, the games were sold off at like 10 bucks a piece. Games that were 30 bucks had almost no chance, and it just created this downward spiral.

According to Wikipedia, gaming revenues fell from 3.2 billion in 1983 to 100 million in 1985, a drop of almost 97%!!! That is just incredible.

Computers like the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair were as cheap as a Colecovision, so parents thought why get my kid a console when computers do so much more?

I was a kid during the crash, and I had no idea that the crash even occurred. Arcade games of 1982 and 1983 were some of the best ever. I have very fond memories of these years, and just spending quarter after quarter on games. And I played the INTV and Colecovision pretty much non-stop.

Why hasn't a crash like 1983 occurred again? Nintendo in 1985 learned why Atari had fallen, which was due to allowing any company make games for their console, and not being able to do anything about it. So Nintendo made sure that they kept strict control over who made games for the NES and how many games could be made, which was 5 per year. Nintendo also controlled production of the games as well. It is absolutely stunning how Nintendo single-handedly turned the whole industry around, while every other company desperately played catch-up.

In my opinion, the two biggest risks facing the gaming world today are the lack of original quality titles, and the rise of the smartphone/tablet gaming market.


Jon1
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Why has there been no crash like in 1983

Postby Jon1 » January 12th, 2015, 3:17 pm

For me there has been another crash. In the late 90s the whole industry went to ****, with Sony's hideous Playstation taking the lead, DISGUSTING. Games now were incredibly tedious and took way too much time. Instant gratification turned into months of playing some crap games with so many "interesting" features its impossible to get a grasp on what was going on. Disillusionment set it, and now it's 2015.


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