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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Washington Post Looks At Turbulent Game Industry

I'm not sure it's got much that will really surprise gamers, but the Washington Posts looks at the good and bad in the industry today:

The video game industry ought to be riding high. Public interest has never been greater, overall sales are up, and blockbuster movies such as "King Kong" and "Star Wars" routinely look to video games to extend their reach into popular culture.

But companies that make and sell video games are suffering, caught up in an unusual set of circumstances that are cutting profits and jobs just when they should be in top form. Major game publishers Activision Inc., Atari Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc. all missed their most recent earnings expectations and each company has had layoffs in recent months. Retailers such as Electronics Boutique Holdings Corp. and GameStop Corp. have faced similar problems.
-- An Industry Off Its Game

It goes on to talk about the 360's stuttered launch, the possible delay of the PlayStation 3 and the relative invisibility of the Revolution, although I'm not certain that last one is too accurate. I don't know about you, but I actually have a pretty good feel for what the Revolution might be like these days, now that the controller has been announced and we've got at least a comparative feel for the hardware.

Still, the Post has a point. It's just not unexpected. Companies are taking a hit to ramp up to the next generation while coasting on the previous one. With the industry larger than ever before, the effects are magnified. However, there is also a lot of hardware to be sold next year and higher priced new titles as well.

Personally, I still have more PS2 titles to last me a while, and that's not counting all the DS fun I plan on having over the next few months. And eventually finishing Guild Wars (and possibly, just maybe, getting into PvP). So they can take their time.

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Winkyboy said...

They can definitely take their time.

Games have always had a problem with their demographic; younger gamers have all the time an none of the money for games ... older gamers are vice versa.

That leaves a theoretically-smaller remainder of perhaps college students that have lots of time plus a moderate amount of money (or else they make a lot of time by skipping classes...!) And then there's always the gaming fanatic. However THOSE are split between "single game fans" and the industry-loved "must-have-it-all" addict.

So back to the point, there are SO MANY games - so many GREAT games for the current systems (especially including PCs) that the average gamer can take their pick from a range of "yesterday's titles" for usually a great price. In that respect, it's gamers that have it good, to the point that there might just be too many developers for the pot.

Patrick Dugan said...

I see emerging a market of titles sold at 20-30 dollar price points and distributed online or (less and less) purchased or shipped physically, and I see the PC and the Revolution as the two mass accessible platforms.

The Revolution controller encourges experiences with potentially lower time demands, and opens the door to interactive storytelling and kinetic simulation. I'd like to do a combination of both in the next few years.

I can see Nintendo becoming greater than it once was, selling a mass market $20 games and storyworlds on a $200 system. I can also see Sony and MS reconsidering the profitability of their gaming buisiness approaches in four to five years.

Clamatius said...

You don't have to finish GW to play PvP, just so you know. Hrm, maybe I should write a "getting started in PvP from PvE" article at some point.

I know what you mean about the backlog of things to play. I still have a ton of stuff to play on PC and PS2 even if I get over the GW addiction. Older PC games specifically have another selling point for me in that they're more likely to actually run on my not-so-new computer. The prospect of the expensive next gen consoles isn't really affecting any buy decisions one way or the other for me.

Josh said...

Yeah, I just haven't dipped into PvP because Guild Wars is generally just a quick distraction for me, so I haven't had time to devote to all the tactics, guild politics, etc. of PvP.

A friend of mine competes pretty hardcore though, so he might get me to take it more seriously. A PvE to PvP guide would rock.