Debating The State Of Video Games In 2012

Debating The State Of Video Games In 2012

Over at the New York Times, where you can see more and more contributions by Kotaku writers, Yahoo News deputy editor Chris Suellentrop and I just had a conversation about video games. We had been asked by the editors there about the state of gaming, about signs of financial struggles at nearly every major video game company you could name. Just about none of them seemed to be doing as well as they used to. That was the premise.

So what’s going on with games?

Well, it’s not been a great year for corporate video games, I argue.

Here are two excerpts for you to chew on, though I encourage you to read and react to the whole thing. This first is from the section in which we talk about how expensive it has been to be a gamer. I argue that it’s becoming way cheaper, but the following point still stands:

SUELLENTROP: More important, the nation is facing a more tangible crisis, one that has been particularly punishing to young men. Ours is an absurdly expensive pastime. You need an HD TV, a console (often with some peripherals) and an Internet connection before you spend a single dollar on software or subscription fees for services from Xbox and PlayStation. Forget the jokes about twentysomething slackers playing Call of Duty in their parents’ basements. The real elites are the people who can afford a dozen new games every year.

…and, later, as we get to discussing the lack of new consoles and some of the malaise possibly inherent in that…

TOTILO: … The wait for a new machine has been absurdly long, and that has surely cost corporate gaming some buzz. While the Wii U is promising – the basic concept is that of a powerful TV game console that displays additional graphics on a six-inch screen embedded in your controller – we won’t even see the next Xbox or PlayStation until a year from now, at the earliest. Upstarts like the hackable, crowd-financed console Ouya or the head-mounted display called the Oculus Rift are interesting. But the game lover in me is almost as uncomfortable with the hype for hardware as I am with the obsession with finances. We can only weep for corporations so much. Big companies no longer dominate the creation of video games. Freethinking, independent creators are on the rise, and they’re making some fascinating games. The play’s the thing. All else is second.

The full exchange is at the link below and will also appear in Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section in the Times‘ print edition.

Gaming Faces Its Archenemy: Financial Reality [New York Times]


  • Gaming is definitely a cheaper hobby than people assume. But it is the most expensive for AAA games where not only is the game itself high-priced, but its development also. They’ve created a system where they are only profitable at release at full price, so if people have less money to buy games that way then the profits suffer.

    It’s an awfully difficult situation:
    The kids in the basement can afford games because they have much less pressure for other spending, but their income is fickle and co-dependent – if a game is now “too expensive” at the time; their hands are tied.
    For independent working gamers with a higher income, the argument that gaming is not so expensive is valid. However these people have multiple financial pressures and should their income fluctuate (as it has been for many over the last few years), gaming drops down in priority very fast.

    So it’s on a knife edge constantly: where profits rely on the very specific situation of games being seen as a cheap but valuable commodity only when the world’s finances permit it.

    • Not only that but as you get older you have other demands on your time so often the latest release games have to wait and when you see how quickly the price drops on some of them – that can often be a good thing! (for the consumerm that is!)

  • “…few people play video games for the story…” I do…
    “…These people could, of course, be reading books…” I much prefer books to mobile/portable games… I find it a mystery why people think flinging obese birds at pigs is so fascinating.

    A future where gaming is reduced to something done to waste a couple of minutes while waiting for a train, where games are bought on impulse and discarded just as quickly, is not a future I want to be a part of. And if it comes to pass, I’ll sadly go back to my books, mourning for the loss of a great and promising medium.

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