The title may sound alarmist but hear me out.
Looking at the recent decline of gaming as a whole, mostly as a business but also as an art form. Late in this past decade and early in the current one we have seen nothing but an increase an anti consumer business practices. Ironically it is exactly 30 years after the crash of 83. Coincidence? I think not. In fact, let's talk about the crash of 83 for a moment.
What caused the crash? There were several contributing factors but let's look at the most notable.
1. Too many competing consoles flooding the market. The early 80s saw dozens of dieerent consoles competing against each other. The Colecovision, the Vectrex, the Intellivision, the Atari 2600, and many others.
2. A plethora of bad games. Developers and publishers took a quantity over quality approach and ended up putting out a bunch of bad games to try and milk consumers for as much as they can.
3. Competition from PCs. games for PCs are becoming infinitely better than what was offered on consoles at the time, without bringing up the "PC Master Race" debate.
4. Lack of quality control. In the days of the crash, ANYONE could make games fro any system. even bad ones, and many bad ones did get made.
5. High-profile failures. E.T. and Pacman on the Atari 2600, nuff said.
Now Let's look at today's events in gaming and see how they parallel to the events leading up to the crash of 83.
1. Too many competing platforms: Check! Including handhelds and mobile devices this brings us to several competing platforms for gaming including: Wii, Wii U, PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/720, 3DS, PS Vita, Iphone, Ipad, Android, etc.
2. plethora of of bad games/flooding of the market: Check! making fairly short games with little replay value and unlockables and cheat codes replaced with paid DLC (disclaimer: NOT ALL DLC is bad, Bethesda does DLC right with the exception of Horse Armor.) and of course a flooding of the market with certain genres. Case in point: Sports and First Person Shooters (FPS) with EA and Activision leading the charge of barely updated sequels in annual franchises I.E. CoD and just about any EA sports series (Madden, etc.)
3. Competition from PCs: Check! I play both consoles and PC so I'm far from a PC fangirl but it seems that many PC games outperform console games, although more and more PC games are also on consoles, most of the time the PC version is superior, but not always/ PC still can p[ut out better graphics (As if that really mattered) and there is generally more freedom on the PC and more respect for consumers with the convenience that is Steam. Whatever your opinion, it can't be denied that consoles are trying to fiercely compete with PCs. This and #4 contribute to the used game market
4. Lack of quality control: Check! Publishers lording over developers with an iron fist and enforcing strict deadlines so developer have to rush out unfinished, incomplete games with lots of bugs and waiting for the gamers to do their job for them and to have the developer/publisher patch it later after said bugs have been brought to their attention by gamers. *cough*Skyrim*cough*
5. High-Profile failures: Check! I could name quite a few of these off the top of my head. In fact, I think I will. Sony getting arrogant after 2 generations of home console dominance with the PS1 and the almighty PS2 and developing a bad case of Sega Syndrome and thinking people would buy the PS3 at a lanch price of 599 Us dollars, 599 US dollars, 599 Us dollars, ok enough of that. Anyway, you get the picture, Sony took a huge gamble and made bone headed after bone headed decision until they got into some really bad financial trouble. The whole EA Simcity Debacle, the backlash over Mass Effect 3's ending, the Diablo 3 always online DRM.
For the hell of it I'll add more signs I think another crash is coming.
6. The war on used games. the PS4 is hinted to contain used game blocking tech but Sony has stated they themselves would not use it but would allow publishers who want to use it have the option, and you KNOW they WILL. and there's still the FUD surrounding the Xbox 720 and Microsoft has not done any damage control. they have not come out and confirmed or denied the rumors ever since they first started. and Microsoft's own creative directed hash tagged "Deal with it" to those concerned about the Xbox 720 rumor surrounding on always onlien requirement.
7. Anti-consumer business practices and the inevitable backlash. See above, but it seems that after Nintendo saved the industry in 85 with NES all the way to the end of the 6th gen game developers were more like craftsmen, taking the time to develop wonderful art for the world to enjoy, and now games have become more like an assembly line, pumping out product after mass produced product and that attitude towards consumers that sees them as numbers more than human beings.
So the final question here is: Is another crash needed? Why or why not?
Over the years these companies got big and lost sight of what's important, caring more about shareholders than customers, I believe a second crash could be just the thing to push these companies who have lost their way back into the right direction. Nintendo seems to eb the only sane company on the console end essentially being a player trying to conduct honest business in a dishonest playing field. although they are not fully incorruptable, I.E. 3DS and WII U region locking. and Valve seems to be respectful to consumers on the PC front with Steam.
I speculate that a company or 2 will help revive the industry after the crash has happened. Nintendo could be the savior once again, or Valve could play the hero with the rumored Steam Box, or both. Or even Sega might make a return to the console market with the Dreamcast 2, although that outcome is highly unlikely but we can only hope.
So what are your thoughts?
Do you think a second crash is coming? Why or why not?
Do you think a crash is needed? Why or why not?
For more information on the issue see: What's Going to Happen if the Xbox 720 Blocks Used Games? - The Answer - YouTube
For more information on Sega Syndrome see: Why the Sega Saturn failed, and how it could have been saved - YouTube