Wednesday, August 13, 2008

EPISODE ELEVEN: "Can It Happen To Us?"

A decade ago, a onetime "niche" industry for the young and the geeky "grew up," conquered the world... and then lost everything. The OverThinker remembers how it happened, and wants to know if the gaming biz is heading down the same path.



I'll try not to let a month pass between installments again - fortunately this one was actually a pretty quick job. What slows these things down is the image-hunting: Some material you'll find TONS of stuff to work with, others... not so much.

51 comments:

Twilight said...

I'm not sure if I can entirely agree with you on Microsoft and Sony bailing out once the consoles become unprofitable. after all, didn't Microsoft lose money in the long run on the Xbox?

Kyle said...

Scary stuff, man. As far I knew, kids are playing games... but I'm 30. How the hell do I know what kids are doing these days??

The Abhorsen said...

Great to see another vid. I've become quite a fan of them. And I can agree with much of your line of reasoning here, but it's the first vid that kind of has me going "no he's wrong" at some bits as well.

Allow me to explain why I can not agree with all your points. One of the major ones being that I visit a lot of gamer websites, esp. in my own native language and they are filled with... kids! To a degree it bugs me :D So a lot of kids are playing video games these days. And most are already complaining that the Wii is too childish and should be more "hardcore". While this annoys me greatly, it does show that kids these days do simply buy the PS3 or Xbox (mainly PS3, Europe is fascinated with Sony, most of them claim Sony invented the console and believe Sony is a 100% gaming company sadly). Of course these are mainly kids from I think 14 years and upwards.

The younger ones are highly enjoying themselves I think on the Wii. And actually also the Xbox 360 because it does have kids games (like Viva Pinjada, Kameo or the upcomming Banjo game to name some on the spot). And Microsoft is being criticised heavily at the moment by hardcore gamers that it's looking to much at Nindento how pull in casual gamers with "kiddie avatars" and "kid games". So it does seem like Microsoft is at least looking to also cater to the younger kids. Simply because they see the amount of money Nintendo is making. Only Sony is really still focusing on the older players.

But Sony always did that! It was their success. The revolution the PSone caused was to not focus on kids but to focus on young adults (who have now turned into adults). And it turned out to be highly profitable for them. So companies like Microsoft copied them and even Nintendo tried with the cube. Nintendo simply rediscovered their core target group (and added old people and girls to it), and you see Microsoft is now also going that direction without forgetting the hardcore.

Pretty much this leaves us with: Nintendo mainly focusing on kids, Microsoft focusing on both kids and adults and Sony focusing on adults. Which gives you a perfect live-cycle as a consumer to always be tied in and pick a console of your age-group. And lets not forget, the original young adults of the PSone days are now adults, yet the PS3 also pulls in lots of new young adults.

While this is getting lengthy (huff puff) I also don't think the new adults who game will stop gaming. If I look at myself, I have a busy job and life and am getting close to the 33 mark. But I continue to buy games and play them (admittedly I sometimes buy more then I can play) and I see the same with others in my generation. Of course just looking at your surroundings isn't any kind of real proof. But I see friends getting kids and announcing it on Xbox Live for example. And they continue to game.

I think gaming is growing with the first generation that started to game. Yes some will stop gaming, but overall it's becoming more and more just another form of entertainment. Instead of watching TV or a movie, people decide to play a game. Most of the big budget games are basically interactive movies anyway. Long ago for entertainment you read a book, then TV game along and you had the choice to read a book or watch TV. Now you also have the choice to play a game. And I think that will remain here to stay for a mature audience with mature games aswell. But of course we do need the Nintendo's and other companies to also cater to kids. And I think they do. If nothing else because Nintendo is proving you can make buckets full of cash doing so.

Paul said...

Yeah, I'm not entirely on board with this one. Highly enjoyable, but it feels too much like the boy who cried wolf.

What was rattling through my mind the entire time is that Nintendo is still catering to many age groups, but you acknowledged that.

Really, I think that comics (or any written art form) is seriously limited to it's technology. You can only do so much with a 2d surface made from paper. Gaming on the other hand is continuing to evolve as the technology continues to evolve. Virtual reality still hasn't become feasible, but it may.

And I think there are a lot more genres in gaming than there are in comics. Sports games, imho, are a lot more fun than sports comics. I have yet to see a puzzle comic, but damned if puzzle games aren't addictive.

In the same way that board games "died out", so will video games . . . when the technology moves into some unexplored realm.

What you are talking about are shitty business decisions that cripple an industry for a time. Comics aren't dead, they're just not all the rage. Someday, video games will fall from their lofty position when we all move on to the next toy.

Great video once again.

Amoveo said...

I think you're right, but I also think there's a lot of hope. Nintendo is making so much money appealing to kids and casual gamers that Microsoft and Sony are taking notice. Microsoft took time out of it's press conference to push games like Viva Pinata and others. And I know that that is only one game, but it's a step in the right direction. Same with Sony the have a history of great franchises for kids (Crash Bandicoot and Spyro) but those franchises have stagnated. Games like Ratchet and Clank are stepping up to take their place. It is only one game, but you can't expect a blitz of kids games, the companies learn slowly.

I'd also be interested to see your take on the developing Downloadable Game scheme. Games like Braid, Bionic commando: Rearmed, and Megaman 9 are all breaking new ground and I'd be interested to see what your thoughts on that are. Thanks a lot and keep posting videos!

FtheTM said...

As someone else pointed out which is a minor flaw in part of your argument Microsoft is already losing money on the Xbox division. It has been unprofitable for some time with the primary reason Microsoft having entered the industry to begin with due to their perception that game consoles could potentially be set top boxes that can replace the functionality of a PC.

The reason they are in the industry and glad to be losing money on the Xbox division is that it's part of a bigger picture in their business plan, the Xbox is there is to prevent a set top box device (example, Playstation 3 running Linux out of the box) that can potentially threaten their PC Operating System from proliferating in such high numbers to damage their operating system monopoly.

For all intents and purposes I agree with most of your argument and I realize time is a constraint when posting a YouTube video, but it's also worth noting that a heavy part of the reason the comic industry crashed in the 90s was due to distribution issues

For the uninitiated on this subject somewhere around 1995 or so Marvel bought out Heroes World (a comic distribution company) and distributes their comics in the US (at least the direct editions which are released earlier) exclusively through them, causing comic stores to buy products at higher prices since they are forced to purchase through multiple distributors (or dump all marvel comics which was not a viable option with their controlling roughly half of the market at the time) one for Marvel and another for everyone else, this caused many comic stores used to buying product for 70% off cover price to get 50% and 40% and caused many to go out of business due to the profit margins.

The comic industry also had one other major flaw, which was that it was built heavily around people who collected them hoping for an increase in value. Yes, video games do from time to time gain in value but it's uncommon. When comic stores started going out of business the cost of back issues dropped as stores cleared out product and this chain reaction is greatly responsible for what destroyed that industry.

Yes, the staleness of Image Comics hardcore, in your face gritty teeth, giant chested look would have eventually grown old. But it was far from the entire reason the comic industry crashed.

Mark said...

This has been one of your best videos, methinks. Why? Because it's a worth-listening to topic that I *haven't thought much about myself*. You make important observations, but it's not like you're talking about what everybody's talking about. That's what I appreciate most about these vids.
As far as the topic itself, I'm not sure I have an opinion as to how much I agree or disagree with you. I think you make some good connections between the industries, but I do also acknowledge what some of your other viewers are suggesting, that these are two different industries, etc.
I definitely *hope* you're wrong though, to say the least. It'd be nice if a balance were struck between casuality and "hardcore" - as is, the hardcore community is so afraid of casual gaming that this seems like it might be a few years off.
When comparing gaming to other media, though, we have to remember that it *is* new, and it *is* different. We really have no idea how long we'll all be gamers, how much this all affects pop culture, and the like. Only time will tell.
Keep up the good work.

yukimurasanada said...

Hate to be the voice to dissent here, but your wrong man.

Though you logic is sound, your actual reasoning is broken.

Lemme try and innumerate why I belive this.

1. According to over half the studies done on gaming in the past 10 years. the average age of gamers is well over 25. and over 50 percent of gamers are over 17, meaning that when better to 60 percent of your target demographic is adults, you must cater to that audience. Don't think im right, just look at all the Shit nintendo took at E3. Yeah, thats right, nintendo is selling Wii's up the ass right now, no one will deny it. But when you look at how many games are sold on the wii vs any other console, INCLUDING the psp? it's getting ass raped.

2. Nintendo is the one who doesn't have it's yes on the long haul, not sony, not microsoft. You can deny it as much as you want, reality is this. Nintendo's overly heavy casual focus may give them 3 years of great sales, but when the system fails to move software, your gonna start seeing hundreds of wiis winding up in trade in over at gamestop. In fact, it's already happening. New wiis are in short to almost no supply, but used wii's My local game stop had 12 of them. In fact, so does evey game stop in a 35 mile radius.

3. In the end, the industry isn't going to have an implosion like comics did, its' gonna have a Transistion. The wii will grab and draw in new blood, but when it fails to provide the depth or vairety needed as the casuals get more into gaming, they'll abandon it for deeper, more adult fare, in other words, if nintendo doesn't start nutting up and showing some fucking support to third parties and hard core gamers, its' the only company that will implode, not sony, not MS, not the industry.

How do I know this? Two words Overthinker.

Virtual BOY.

Ok, yes, i know, thats hitting an open wound, but it's a symbol of how nintendo at it's core, has one fundemental flaw. That flaw is that it fails to see or correct it's mistakes. Wants proof, heres some examples.

1. N 64, cartidge system vs CD. Playstation ASS raped the n64 in the market.

2. Third party failure. Lets face it, no matter how well nintendo may do now, without the support of 3rd party, its' gonna collapse under it's own ambition. Yes, nintendo is riding high, but the moment othe consoles get the ability to use motion controls on the same level as nintendo? It's over. Sony and ms will draw all the third party developers away and Bury nintendo.

Ok, ok, my rants getting excessive. Point is, nintendo is riding high cause of 2 things. 1, the wii is cheap, easy, and popular with casuals. Thats good at the start. But it has ZERO lasting appeal and will be come just another oddity pulled out once every few months. And when the hardware sells stop, what then?

2. The gaming world is changing, and rapidly. As you see now, online is a big part, and aside from it's abyssmal third party support, this is where nintendo was and to a certain degree has had a a major problem. Dont deny it, dont try and rationalize. Online play on the wii is and remains SHIT. It's buggy, slow, complicated, and not worth the time. Know what the NUMBER 1 game traded back to Gamestop for the wii was. Get this.

SMASH BROTHERS!

That my friends, was the point at which I saw nintendo starting to stumble. And if that game is being rejected by nintendo fans, where does that leave nintendo when the hardware sales stop?

Neonsabre77 said...

yeah but dont kids grow up?
like a conveyor belt, there cannot be that much of a gap in the market what about older siblings or parents introducing kids to the joys of gaming, I know my 12 year old bro likes some halo and mario just the same and my son when old enough is gonna get a leason in good games such as Mario Galaxy and Bangai-o Spirits etc. so Nintendo and Sony and MS pay parents to teach kids the joys og Gaming

I am 30 and still want to game well into the rest of my life the DS is my console of choice right now, you know whats funny Nintendo is kicking ass with the DS but no one takes it seriously as a console, and frak me it is a major machine some of the best games ever are on this little thing, Soul Bubble, Bangai-o Spirits, Mario Kart DS, New Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Advanced wars list goes on and on, but you do not give it the recognition it deserves yeah the Wii is at the top of the home consoles but on the consoles it is the DS.

Neonsabre77 said...

yeah but dont kids grow up?
like a conveyor belt, there cannot be that much of a gap in the market what about older siblings or parents introducing kids to the joys of gaming, I know my 12 year old bro likes some halo and mario just the same and my son when old enough is gonna get a leason in good games such as Mario Galaxy and Bangai-o Spirits etc. so Nintendo and Sony and MS pay parents to teach kids the joys og Gaming

I am 30 and still want to game well into the rest of my life the DS is my console of choice right now, you know whats funny Nintendo is kicking ass with the DS but no one takes it seriously as a console, and frak me it is a major machine some of the best games ever are on this little thing, Soul Bubble, Bangai-o Spirits, Mario Kart DS, New Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Advanced wars list goes on and on, but you do not give it the recognition it deserves yeah the Wii is at the top of the home consoles but on the consoles it is the DS.

Bob said...

"Yes, nintendo is riding high, but the moment othe consoles get the ability to use motion controls on the same level as nintendo? It's over. Sony and ms will draw all the third party developers away and Bury nintendo."

EVERYONE has the ability to use Wii-style motion control NOW - like just about everything else Nintendo puts out on the hardware front, the Wii Remote is decade-old tech arranged creatively. There's nothing to stop Sony or MS from utilizing something similar.

Except, of course, that there's no garauntee they can actually profit from it. It's just not feesible that Sony or MS can cut into the Wii's "casual" market just by xeroxing Wii Sports because they're consoles are still too expensive.

The Abhorsen said...

Bob, while I fully agree with you that others can easily do what the Wii does and disagree with the comment another visitor made about lack of third party support (3rd parties are starting to love the Wii, casual games where a major part of the profits a company like Ubisoft made, some multiplatform games outsell all others on the Wii with lesser graphics (esp. guitar hero and co)) I again have to disagree with you a little bit.

The Xbox isn't that expensive anymore and the PS3 is also rapidly dropping in price. The Xbox is actually coming really close in price now to the Wii and might even go under it. And the PS3 will also continue to follow.

Your forgetting one thing if your comparing the PS3 atm to the Wii and it's the PS2. Sony still supports the PS2 big time, with new titles and it's very cheap to buy and actually selling more units to this day then the PS3. The PS2 is the casual, cheap console of choice for most people on the budget. It still has more new titles then the PS3 even. If you look at last E3 Sony still take the PS2 very serious. It's what is currently driving their profits, not the PS3. That one is just getting momentum. The current PS3 price is aimed at fanboys who enjoy paying off the development cost to be early adapters. What your missing to see is that the machine you think Nintendo only has with the Wii Sony also has with the PS2. That's their machine atm to lure you into gaming on the budget. And in time the PS3 will drop in price and take over it role (and after that the PS4 will come with the PS3 in the role of the PS2 now, repeat forever -> profit).

FtheTM said...

To the_abhorsen and yukimurasanada: I just thought I'd respond to a few of your points.

First off to the abhorsen, With regard to your comments on the PS2. Yes, it's the cheapest platform on the market but it's not considered even by Sony to be a long term solution. This is especially relevant considering that the discount model of the Playstation 3s, lack of backwards compatibility (and the somewhat crippled backwards compatibility of the current premium model). This significantly damages the flow of parlaying the success of one platform to another. So while games continue to be released for the PS2 due to the massive installed base, it's market place importance is in sharp decline and many new PS3 owners now need to buy a PS2 to play PS2 games.

Now on to yukimurasanada's comments. You're making the assumption that Sony and Microsoft has successfully market their products at the casual audience (if they had a fully functional motion controller available per your earlier comment "the moment othe consoles get the ability to use motion controls on the same level as nintendo? It's over".

Part of the appeal of the Wii is the fact, that's it the Wii, it's small and simple in design and doesn't have an intimidation factor to it.

Have you ever seen a non-gamer try to navigate the PS3 or Xbox 360 dashboard, they have difficult just getting around the system menus.

The title the Wii in and of itself is designed to draw a wider audience than the Playstation and Xbox, again it's Nintendo aiming at a wider audience than the traditional gaming market.

Perhaps the final portion of your argument that's flawed is the fact that for all intents and purposes you're assuming that the Wii's success is due to third parties. The best selling Wii games are, with a few exceptions almost all first party titles.

Nintendo's game design and ability to market said titles to their more casual audience is far ahead of the third parties ability to do so thus far. Just look at how few Brain Training, Animal/Nintendog knock offs, and Wii Sporting games sell anywhere near as well as the genuine article for comparison.

Even if the other two consoles were to introduce full motion control (I don't count the motion control in the SixAxis as an equivalent). How and why would it be "over" for Nintendo who has brand recognition, world class development, a huge installed base and finally a huge library of franchises to utilize.

Third parties would also have no reason to abandon the platform even if the other console manufacturers added motion control, strictly because there is money to be made on the Wii, even if it's just a fraction of what Nintendo is pulling in on their first party titles.

yukimurasanada said...

To bob, Fthtem and Abhorsen.

I obviously had not been awake enough to coherently voice my opinions last night, for which I apologize for not explaining my disagreement with you correctly.

I'll try to make sense this time.

Basic, I view it this way. The Wii is doomed to a Comic style implosion not cause of it's popularity but because of it's inability to last beyond the first few years.

While casual gamers dig the wii and love it's simple gameplay, that doesn't hold for long and soon wears out it's appeal, plus with the critical lack of online play, or should I say ,GOOD online play, not the "Friends code" bullshit nintendo pushs, I see nintendo's wii becoming the number one trade in item at gamestop by about year 4 or it's life.

ON the other hand, lets compare that to the lasting apeal of Xbox live. Hmm, So it's now, what ,10 million, maybe 11 plus million on that. halo 3 and 2 and COD 4 still dominate online game space and will continue to do so for aproximetly 3 years or more, gee, yeah, and I see wii sports resort lasting 3 years.

Sorry, I love nintendo as much as you do bob, I just have to look back and see all the mistakes, all the failures, all the bad choices, and see that in the end, it's nintendo who's going to wind up shooting themselves in the foot and thus ending up with millions of used wiis sitting on shelves and no new Wii's being sold, that plus the lack of software sales outside of nintendos 1st party stuff, and indeed, due to nintendos seeming abandonment of those franchises and the hard core fan base, I see nintendo being crippled by it's own ambitions.

If nintendo on the other hand, succeds in releasing a wii replacment, which can combine next gen graphics with wii style gameplay, then they might have the lasting appeal needed to survive in the long run.

Thats just my view of things.

JJXB said...

2 things:
1. i fully agree that their cornering one market and leaving the future generation out of their plans. that's why i'm going to be teaching any kids i have the value of old consoles as well. but it's unfair to say the games are the toys. the consoles are expensive toys that require extra bits IMO. those bits are the games.
2. thanks a bunch for reminding me how fucking annoying navi was. it brings back the memories of wanting to strangle the little fucker because you haven't gone somewhere or done something yet.

Jared said...

The problem, as I see it, is that there does not exist any hard data to support either side of the argument effectively. All information that either side uses is simply conjecture based on what little info does exist and their own observations. Can the industry collapse, again? Yes, that ominous threat has existed since the arrival of Nintendo back in the 80's, and it will continue to exist until either video games become as necessary as food or the implosion actually happens.

As for "games not targeting children anymore" is, well, both true and untrue. There is a distinct lake of games similar to those of the Nintendo and Sega years, where almost every game and their grandma where purposely targeting kids, and that is sad because ther are no longer any half-decent to good kids games (outside of the Mario, Link, and Pokemon series that is). This void is increasingly being filled with supposedly mature games, like GTA San Andreas, which sucks as all they do is turn kids into annoying twits who lessen the awesomeness of the human race.

Anyway, quick question for Bob; what programs do you use to make the Overthinker videos?

Twilight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twilight said...

@ yukimurasanada:
"If nintendo on the other hand, succeds in releasing a wii replacment, which can combine next gen graphics with wii style gameplay, then they might have the lasting appeal needed to survive in the long run."

OK, sorry, I have to object here.

When the next gen consoles were making news before they came out, Newspapers were calling the Wii the "Dark Horse" competitor, the system that wasn't competing directly with the other two. do you know why this is?

it's because it DIDN'T focus on graphics, and instead opted for a new style of gameplay.

The Wii wouldn't be 1/10 as successful as it has been if it had been as graphics-focused as the PS3 and X360.

Jean C. Ventura said...

I know this is out of subject but, if you do play or have played MMRPG's o RTS games, can you please do an episode/version of what your thoughts are on them? that would be great! Sorry for any grammatical mistakes, english is not my first language and if this is the type of thing you don't do, just ignore me (i just discovered your blog so i don't know that much about what your about)

Love what i've seen so far, great job, i'll be back for sure...

yukimurasanada said...

@twilight

We'll have to agree to disagree there.

While I admit that the wii has been selling well, sales alone is not how I view success. IF that was the case, then things like XBox live and PSN would be pointless.

Nintendo is riding high right now, and I'm not going to deny that they seem to be enjoying a wave of success.

It won't last. Think of it this way. When you look at the wii now, long after it's release, what is it you see?

Tons of great games? Yeah, try maybe 5 or 6.
Good online? Oh, yeah, Friend codes rule.
Gimmicky controls? Hmm ,yep, yep, see those alright.
A crap ton of Shovelware? Oh yeah. Lots of that going around.

Right now the wii is enjoying success, thats true. But in a year, it will be come just another novelty, and you'll see them by the dozens being sold back to Gamestop when nintendo fails to produce the kind of software needed to keep it going.

Sure, Wii sports resort looks fun, But you know what, I haven't touched wii sports in 6 MONTHS!!

Hell, the Number 1 game i've played on my wii since I bought the freaking thing used the classic controller. Why, cause few games make good use of the wii mote capabilites, and wii motion plus wont help since nintendo left the 3rd parties in the dark.

Sorry man, but I see this E3 as being the point at which nintendo will start to slide back into it's Gamecube era stick and wind up being soundly trouced in the long run by Xbox and Ps3, not because it didn't sell well, but because it couldn't see software to go with it. Without third parties, nintendo will FAIL. Don't belive me.

N64 and Gamecube.

Yeah, lack of third parties nearly Killed them both.

tyra menendez said...

i have to agree that the majority of what nearly killed comics, was the collectors bubble, not the "grim and gritty era". i'm the same age as you, so we were both part of the target audience of that era. but comics have gone through fads, before, and rebounded. personally, i really didn't start reading comics until i was older, anyway. when i was little, i mostly watched cartoons.
the market crash was caused by a number of factors, like extinctions, there's no *one* cause, but a contributor was the greed factor with all the publishers, not just the big two. even one of the darlings of comic readers (not fans, readers), dark horse, who is big enough to draw in major talent, yet independent enough to retain its street cred, wasn't publishing issues that went past "5". everyone was churning out multiples issues and a bunch of horse shit.
as far as the "founders" of the grim and gritty era goes, every break-through creator has imitators - how many bad, american martial arts movies have you seen, after bruce lee hit the streets. or again after jet li and jackie chan. there are always fads and imitators.
i think games will be more like the cd business - everyone and their dog will try to start up a company, producing these things, then the market will settle, because it's not the hot thing, anymore. then it will be replaced, like with digital downloads. eventually, dvds are going to have to look at the same thing - the technology will be replaced and maybe even the medium, but life moves on.
also, individual comic sales are falling, but graphic novel and trade paper back sales are holding steady. the average comic reader has the attention span to read an entire story, as they would a "regular" book, not just 22 pages.

FtheTM said...

@yukimurasanada
Sorry man, but I see this E3 as being the point at which nintendo will start to slide back into it's Gamecube era stick and wind up being soundly trouced in the long run by Xbox and Ps3, not because it didn't sell well, but because it couldn't see software to go with it. Without third parties, nintendo will FAIL. Don't belive me.

N64 and Gamecube.

Yeah, lack of third parties nearly Killed them both.


This is where you're quite mistaken just because there was a lack of third party support compared to the other two systems, neither platform was ever in danger of dying early (both lasted just over five years in terms of support). Both the GameCube and Nintendo 64 were quite profitable for Nintendo despite the lack of third party development.

While Nintendo saw their market share decline, they were still turning quite an impressive profit having had only one unprofitable quarter between 1996 and 2006 (the lifespan of those two platforms). By comparison the Xbox division has had three (maybe four once their next set of results come in) profitable quarters in 7 years of operating.

Third party support has nothing to do with a platform living or dying.
The N64 in many ways proved that by selling approximately 40 million systems with very little third party support (largely due to the cost and limitations of developing and manufacturing cartridges). This is why Bob stated Nintendo can sustain themselves, they've proven it.

Whether or not their product appeals to you personally is a different matter. But if by trounced you means in terms of sales then I see this as being an unlikely scenerio.

TheTurnipKing said...

The collapse you describe is unlikely to happen if at least one of the three is still bringing in new audiences. Kids reach a certain age, and suddenly they don't want to play Mario anymore. They'd rather play Gears of War. Just listen at the number of squeaky voiced pre-pubsecents playing Gears of War.

yukimurasanada said...

@Tyra

Really now? 40 million systems?

hmmm, lets see.

PS1 overall worldwide sales topped out at close to what, 60 million, 70 million.

Ps2 sales, 140 plus million?

Dont bs me that third parties aren't important. The only thing that kept nintendo alive during it's N 64 and game cube era Bullshit was the following.

1. It's domination of the handheld market,as evidanced by the DS.

2. Pokemon.

number 1, I don't see that changing any time soon,

Number 2 on the other hand, gets less and less popular every freaking year.

No, Sorry, I disagree. Nintendo will destroy itself in my view. They can sell all the wiis they like. That's fine till you hit a break point and the hardware isn't selling.

Then what? I'll tell you what.

When people discover that there isn't anything worth playing on the system, you'll see it in stacks at Gamestop being traded for something with some actual fucking content. Hell, the fact that the VC and Wii ware out sell almost all software on the system tells me that nintendo has painted itself into a corner.

When the wall falls, there the ones who will be sitting under it.
Unless nintendo can get rid of all the prexsisting issues between it and third parties, they may be setting themselves up for a comic book era implosion.

We won't really know for a few years. I could be wrong, but from where I sit, having watched nintendo over the years, I have a feeling the wii may be the massive success that sets them up for an even larger failure.

Thats just how I see. You can disagree if you like.

Chi said...

This masterbatory rant forgot to address the success of titles like Guitar Hero. I don't play the game. I hardly understand the appeal. But others fucking love it. I think your doom forecast is too largely influence on your romantic notions of where the game industry SHOULD go in your opinion.

As for the comic book/graphic novel industry, you failed to support the idea that they haven't bounced back, let alone that they really sank in the 90s to begin with.

You are certainly correct about the trends of sex and violence in comics at that time, but your analysis is devoid of the larger issue of American capitalism. If big bussiness knows anything it's that tit's and blood sell, and it anything, this points to a weak (or at least insecure) 80s comic book industry.

The simple truth is that the game industry is following the will of the consumer. You may not feel in sync with that, but that's your problem, not the industry.

You look at the backa of a game and see the bold print on the brand new shading and super intense graphics and you get disgusted because there is no mention of the story. You say they were going to buy it anyway. You're right. They saw the commercial. You know, the commercial that outlined the Fucking story, setting and enticed us with game play footage!

Are you paying attention? Or are you just spending time "overthinking" how to come off as edgy?

Bob said...

Yuki,

What strikes me about your responses here is the seeming hyper-emotionalism. It's one thing to be convinced that the Wii will fail, but it feels more like this is what you WANT to see rather than what you expect to see.

In any case, the notion that the number of machines sold used at Gamestop being some kind of barometer doesn't hold much water. The Gameboy has been the most re-sold run of systems ever in conjunction with it being the most successful run of systems ever, period. Every used game shelf in the world is full of DS's - but it's STILL outselling everything including the Wii worldwide.

This is why this video isn't all that much about Nintendo, because they don't really "matter" in terms of the potential crash I'm speaking of. Sony and MS could go belly-up in the game biz tomorrow and take every third party with them, effectively all-but destroying the gaming industry... and Nintendo would survive cushily making it's own machines and publishing it's own games. When the comic biz collapsed, Marvel and DC went up in flames while Archie went "what was that, a hiccup?"

FtheTM said...

@yukimurasanada: In response to

"Ps2 sales, 140 plus million?

Dont bs me that third parties aren't important. The only thing that kept nintendo alive during it's N 64 and game cube era Bullshit was the following.

1. It's domination of the handheld market,as evidanced by the DS.

2. Pokemon."


PS2s, global sales are right at around 120 million. 140 is a bit high.

Also, you seem to miss the entire point. Nintendo MADE money on both the GameCube and N64. It had nothing to do with whether or not they "won the war" or lost market share. Both platforms were profitable.

They didn't just make money on handhelds, or on Pokemon products, the GameCube and N64 as platforms were financially successful.

To address your other main point, who says there can't be good games on the Wii? The N64 had good games, and they were almost entirely first party.

Nintendo's first party titles can sustain a console. It seems to me you seem entirely preoccupied with interest in third party titles. If Nintendo's first party offerings don't appeal to you personally that's cool. But Nintendo has shown in the past despite having the worst third party support, they can keep their platforms profitable.

The Wii is closing in on being 2 years old. Microsoft is supposedly already hurrying their next console (having widely reported to have started sent out dev kits to various developers earlier in the year) to be released as early as Holiday 2009. In three years Nintendo will more than likely introduce their next platform.

It's just the lifespan of consoles. The PS2 has stayed supported longer than most due to its exceptionally giant user base (and some have argued to the determent of the PS3 but that's another rant entirely), I don't think the expectation is that 8 years after the Wii is out there will still be anywhere near as much product being newly released for it.

Again, I think Nintendo is strictly concerned with making money. They are a business after all, and they've done a good job of this so far.

yukimurasanada said...

@Bob

Thats one thing I think we agree on actually is that Ms and Sony need to start focusing on diversity in there software package. Sony may have it's next big broad spectrum hit in the form of Little big planet, I think that will do really well across demographics.

Its ms that really needs to get on the ball with targeting the younger crowd.

Over all, Im not saying that nintendo is gonna disappear, Im saying there falling into the same trap they fell into during the N 64 and Game cube eras. Someone said the N64 was a success. Not true actually. THe delayed develpment and high cost of cartridge production barely allowed to break even. It was the handheld market that nintendo was profiting from.

That being said, right now nintendo is enjoying some great sale and popularity, and i'm glad cause it's brining in new blood to the industry, but it's also gonna be nintendos down fall in the long run.

Thats just how I see.

Give it a few years, then we'll know for sure eh?

tyra menendez said...

i just wanna know why that one comment was @ me, when it didn't address anything is wrote.

tyra menendez said...

i also have to disagree with marvel and dc going up in flames. while marvel certainly filed chapter 13, dc is owned by aol-time-warner, so while the comics division may have taken a hit, it was only a hiccup, to borrow your turn of phrase, for the company, as a whole. aol-time-warner will continue to produce comics, if nothing else, because of franchising. let's face, dc owns three of the most recognizable characters in all of pop culture: superman, batman, and wonder woman. so, the analogy isn't entirely appropriate. or maybe that's part of your point - nintendo has sonic and mario, the other two really don't have big, franchise-able icons.
image, however, split up. while some of the founders stayed on, many of them, like jim lee, sold their shares. ironically, jim lee sold them to dc, so that all the wildstorm properties became dc properties. but image is still around. now, many other companies did collapse, but they didn't have much of a readership, to begin with.
so, to come back to the analogy, if there were a crash, a third party developer like atari, would still be around, because of the loyalty it's developed. it would have to become smaller, obviously, but it wouldn't disappear.
besides, we've already seen a mini-crash, back in the 90's. remember some of the consoles that are now defunct? until playstation came about, we went from several consoles, to just two: nintendo and sega. then the dreamcast got overlooked because of lack of games, despite being a superior system.
so, while nintendo would continue to be around, if there were a crash, i'm sure at least one of the other consoles would scrape through, as well. especially since x-box and playstation are owned by big companies, respectively. of course, thats analogous to my comments about dc, earlier.
or am i flogging a dead horse?

cruzader said...

Sony seems to have an answer, albeit limited, it's definately a great start. That answer: Little Big Planet. From what can be seen, Sony is banking and promoting LBP like crazy, and is already making seem as if "Sackboy," is the new adopted mascot. The game is definately geared towards the younger audience but has an appeal to even the older generation. If this game takes off like I think it will, then it's a whole new ballgame for Sony bringing in the younger audience while sustaining the hardcore money spenders.

efa682 said...

I just finished watching this again, and, man, does it ooze with controversy. This would probably be the first time I've seen this much debate over an Overthinker episode. I expected it with Ep 10 and that was on GTA IV.

Now, for my opinion:
It makes sense, and it also seems impossible, so both arguments have a soundness to them, with the "against" argument holding true for the most part. Yes, kids are playing games for teens and mature audiences. Yes, they might see it as silly to play games for everyone. However, that doesn't mean, that on a capitalist standpoint, the video game industry can't fold within itself. It's possible for every industry if a lack of interest or some bad business decisions are made, or other things come into play.

Right now, the gaming industry is one of the biggest industries around, lucratively. Can it hold out? Yes, I think it can b/c each of the big 3 have marketing schemes that will help or has helped them for the most part. For the industry to fold into itself and collapse, a lot has to happen than just kids not being catered to, b/c right now, those same kids are playing anything they see on a gaming system.

However, I'm not going to discount the possibility that it can't happen. It can. Now, I can't think of many industries that it has happened to, nor am I sure I can use the crash of 1983 as an example of what not to do in gaming(although it does stand out a lot as an idea), but to think that an industry can't collapse without preparing for the worst is foolish. Even though Rome wasn't built in a day, the Roman empire didn't last forever.

I hope that makes sense. Feel free to criticize.

tanookiboy17 said...

well bob i believe you are forgetting one thing when this generation of adults grows up theres going to be another generation of adults right behind them to fallow and to pick up right where the other generation left off.

tyra menendez said...

@ tanookiboy17

I found your punctuation.

Keith said...

Game Overthinker,

How can you say the new consoles aren't attracting children when I know of a huge number of kids who love nothing more than playing GTA? As for the PS3, either Ratchet/Clank or Kratos are good mascots.

AceunOfSpades said...

LITTLE BIG PLANET

There's your toy. There's your industry savior.

lockonandfire said...

Hi, love your videos, just wondering how you embed them in the page as opposed to having the link? Sorry it's a bit of daft question!

Scabies said...

As this episode seems to only cover console gaming (do I detect a Mac user?) I personally think the solution to this hypothetical gaming crash has to be PC gaming. Just sayin'

primitiveapes said...

I don't think I agree with the video games are toys. But let me relabel that medium. The "interactive medium" could be toys but it could also serve as a means of NOT entertaining the audience to serve a powerful symbollic point much like MANY internet games out there. Of course one could say that a person could potentially still be entertained by it, but saying that would be like saying anyone could be potentially entertained by any book written and thus books are also toys...

squall lee said...

I think some people on here don't get a few key points.

Like for instance, you can deny it all you want, but Sony and Microsoft aren't making much of an effort to appeal to younger gamers. Yes, they do have some kid friendly franchises, but in comparison to Nintendo, it's not enough.

I actually have my finger on the pulse of the gaming community in my town, having friends who work in Gamestops and department stores across the county.

And the kid franchises for these two companies aren't hitting their mark; Viva Pinata was mainly played by simulation lovers and fans of Rare, not many kids. Some but not a lot. Kameo, virtually no appeal to kids. Ratchet and Clank, that did have some appeal but it was greater with teenagers and older gamers since they could understand the control scheme and comprehend the humor and dialouge better. LBP, that did have a minor impact, I say minor because the only people who really bought it were die-hard Playstation fans, and only some kids.

So yeah, statistically speaking from this 6-city county, these attempts to appeal to kids aren't really having much of an effect as opposed to Nintendo.

Another thing, a lot of you complain that Wii's are being sold back to Gamestop. Newsflash, that has no effect on any sort of sales figures. It's not as if the company phones Nintendo and tells them they're $250 poorer. Once they're sold, their inventory placement is checked off and that's marked as a sold unit. So even if every Wii in the US was sold back, Nintendo would still be considered to be turning a profit.

There's one thing I also wonder about you guys, you complain about it, but have any of you actually played these supposed shovelware titles on the Wii? Like Carnival Games, Game Party, and the Active Life series. Yes, I admit, they're not as varied as they should be, and unless you're playing in a party they're not as fun. But you'd be amazed at how intuitive these games actually are, and in the sense that they're fun in a party, that's the whole fucking point behind them!

You're supposed to play these games with family, and friends, not mashing buttons like you got parkinsons disease and cursing out some 12-year-old fuckwit into a headset.

And how can anybody chastise Nintendo for being casual appealers only when we got games/sequels coming out like Fatal Frame, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, a Hideo Kojima game, Call of Duty sequels, a Valve game, among other stuff. And don't you think casuals enjoying the Wii might be more inclined to check out these other games since it's on a system they trust, has promising aspects to them? It's a stretch, but this is the kind of long term investment Bob was talking about.

As a closing thought, I'm not a Nintendo sympathizer, I grew up in a predominantly Sega household but all this hatred and allegiance is really out of hand. It's way worse then the Nintendo vs. Sega wars in the 90s. And I wonder, how are Sony and Microsoft exempt from this evil that is shovelware games?

There are more 1-dimensional first person shooters on those systems with faceless, personality lacking nitwits inside armor the size of mack trucks. That or they're bald, bearded, grumbling army men toting the same scheme of guns (pistol, shotgun, rifle, sniper, melee weapon, alien pistol, alien rifle B.F.G.), with either vague anti/pro-war messages behind them, and environments that strain your eyes but look like they've been doused in cocoa powder.

Everybodies guilty of foul play on some level, and the only ones to blame are us, the audience.

iceykitsune said...

All I have to say to your comment about how all the 3'rd party developers will fail when the second crash happens is, Personal Computer.

Evan said...

That's a good ending. At least there's one coin in the guitar case (a little saying I just made up. It resembles that of the independent traveling musician that plays and does good which is rewarded with a coin. The coin, in this situation, is Ratchet and Clank.)Sony has two coins in the case at the moment (Ratchet and Clank and Little Big Planet). Microsoft, I don't think has any coins. I really don't know if they have family games without plastic instruments. The Wii's case is filled with coins (coins also represent good family games). Most of their mascots are pulling their weight and pumping out decent games worth a family game night. I don't think a family of four with young kids will gather 'round the TV to play Halo 3 or Gears of War together. The key to long life in the gaming industry is games that entire families will remember in a good way (not like shooing your kid to bed because he stays up all night playing Halo 3 on Xbox Live).

All the tech stuff really doesn't matter. If the games good, graphics only matter if they actually are needed for the game to operate. For example, you can't pull of something like the Legend of Zelda series on an Atari without it sucking from the inability to figure out what's going on.

Cam said...

I say booooo to you Bob, but that's because I thought Carnage was one of the best super-villains ever made outside of the Joker because all he did was kill people, that's it, none of this "let's do something that could destroy the Earth if people don't pay, but what about Spider-Man? Oh we'll come up with some convoluted plan that he can thwart like every other time" NO, Carnage just killed people for shits and giggles and that is more terrifying than anything Doc Ock ever did, in my humble opinion of course.


Also since I'm posting in the 2010 and all this shit is very old, I just want to say that the Wii is still doing fine, probably because games like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories came out and every Silent Hill fan, or non-child gamer who owned a Wii went "holy shit this game is good, oh my god I... I am speechless, this game has left me without words to describe it" and yes Konami would be considered 3rd party to Nintendo, especially since this is the first time a Silent Hill title has graced the presence of a Nintendo console.

Bobby said...

I do have to disagree with one thing, the games played on the systems are toys, but since the PS3 and X-Box 360 can do several things, the systems themselves aren't, unless you consider a DVD player a toy.

Steve said...

Sorry to necro an old post, but I'm fan of your escapist stuff and just discovered this.

I agree with a lot of your points, and it seems that your idea of "reaching out to kids" has reached Sony and Microsoft.

I take a little bit of an issue with your focus on price as making it prohibitive to children.

When adjusted for inflation, the NES was more expensive than any current-gen console but the PS3. Making the same adjustments, every console Sega ever released was more expensive than the PS3. Children seemed to enjoy those.

Looking at it this way, video game consoles aren't becoming more expensive: the dollar is becoming cheaper. The NES had one function: put in a cartridge, and it would play it. The new ones have more functions, and thus can replace other pieces of equipment. The fact that they're still comparable to the NES in price makes them more accessible to children, not less.

Mikodite Yvette said...

Wasn't it Daniel Floyde of Extra Credit that said "[Game Developers] are not toy makers?" True that if there was no television for kids people would within a generation stop watching television, or if no movies were being made for kids the same thing would happen to movies, and we saw this happen to comic books.

Art, in whatever its format is, is to be for everyone or it is for no one, and as an aspiring game programmer I do take offense to my dream occupation being refered to as "toymaker" because that is not what I think I'm doing.

Not to mention that if you want the politician to stop trying to censor the medium and want video games as an art form to take off we need to shake the stigma that their toys. Shaking this stigma would be better in the long hall as once we are not precieved as toys game developers will make whatever kind of game they want, with whatever story that they want to tell, which includes both stuff for the kids and stuff for the adults.

Tinsley said...

Having only seen 17 of your videos (the ones of 2008), and although not being able to fully support what I'm going to say next with sources, adding that I base this mostly on my reasoning and things I have heard. Furthermore, looking at it from this period (2011). I still wish to reply to your video.

First, I do agree with the point you made in your video, that without a new generation of fans we could be heading the same way the comic book world has gone (having been born in 91, taking your word for what happened).

However, I wish to add, only to soften the point made in your video, that the Xbox 360 and, more so, the PS3 can be seen as 'complementary goods'. Not that THEY are linked, but that they are linked with other consumer products the company's sell.

In the case of the Xbox 360, looking at it now (with regards to Windows Phone 7/ Windows 7) it can be appealing to buy the console due to the extended possibility's with an already owned phone running Windows Phone 7 or a PC with Windows 7 for that matter, as a multi-media system. The same case being the other way around. In some way all their products raise the appeal for other products the company makes as a consequence having a positive effect on sales (my reasoning).

Even more so for Sony's PS3. Being a fully fledged multi-media system, especially marketing the HD content and having a Bluray player. A supplement to owning a PS3 could be owning a nice Sony HD TV, in order to get the most enjoyment out of its 'powerfull' PS3 hardware. Or maybe a nice Hi-Fi system from the same company. The PS3 being a 'complete' package, is thus complementary to other consumer products Sony sells.

If either of these company's would drop their gaming segment, I wouldn't be surprised if it would effect sales of other products, they make. I think that this partly explains their course of action.

This was not to refute the point you made, only as an add on or a 'maybe' explanation to the course taken by Sony and Microsoft.


This might also partly explain the need for Sony and Microsoft of a mascot, they might feel as if they do not need it this way. As for Nintendo, they do not have this, being a company only active in the gaming business. I suppose having a mascot to appeal to new gamers and to have them take a look/buy their products makes having a mascot more important to them then to Sony and Microsoft, having other products to creat an appeal.

I hope even though I have not added any sources, that this train of thought is understandable.

Tinsley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tinsley said...
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Schrodinger's Cat said...

Yes the next generation of consoles will be so expensive that the pc game will return as the once and future king as it was foretold.

Seriously you make a interesting argument about the potential downfall of the console market if they ignore the young and if the market consisted of only sony and microsoft then you might be right but there is still nintendo and still the greatest marketing company of all time when it comes to getting parents to fork over money every christmas. The plan seems to be for nintendo to raise the next generation of gamers until they are old enough to graduate to the hardcore adult gaming platforms of sony and microsoft.

Anthony said...

I think Sony's biggest "kids mascot" would be Ratchet and Clank. I know Little Big Planet is touted a lot but there is no real plot to the game. Ratchet and Clank on the other hand have that and can have gun loving kiddies want to play the game.

I never thought of the gaming industry like you have. But your right, there is no mascot for kids to really like on Playstation and Xbox. At the same time it's hard as shit for me to get my newphew to play any "kids" games. He loves playing with real Legos so he's slightly interested in those games. But on the whole it's all about games with guns. And no kid his age should be playing CoD, Halo, and the like.