Is the AAA Console Games Market Heading for a Crash?

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Is the AAA Console Games Market Heading for a Crash?

While the games industry has gotten too large to crash as a whole, is once segment of it going to have to bottom fall out because most of the games are crap?

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TBH, I think the AAA model will not crash, but it will degenerate over time until it collapses into itself before they notice it.

captcha: "be my friend?"

that's a dangerous proposal

AAA games will have to shrink at some point as publishers and developers continually complain that the cost to profit ratio just is not sustainable, and as much as they try to blame and shame consumers they will have to change themselves eventually. The idea that the industry will crash because of the quality of the product when games are so mainstream is kinda short sighted, and dumb.

This thing doesn't happen. The video game crash was very specific and unique. Was there ever any other such event in history? Where consumers just stop buying stuff with no external reason? I can't recall any. You get market crashes for different reason - market disruption, recession, market bubbles, maybe market saturation in some cases - but consumers just stopping to buy stuff? No that doesn't happen.

Besides today, quality doesn't sell. Demand no longer drives supply. Now, marketing not only sells but also creates the demand by making up the product. And then sells it. And then replaces it. The consumers just keep buying, replacing, upgrading, not thinking if they buy what they need or want.

Also, where would the games go? People still want to play videogames. If someone wants another COD or GTA, then Papers, Please isn't going to cut it as a replacement.

Video games exist in that odd sort of space where reviews are mainly covered by the sorts of websites you only read if you're already heavily invested in the medium. The sort of person who only buys like three games a year is the same sort of person who isn't going to be looking at a bunch of reviews to see whether or not this year's COD is substantially better than last year's or what other games are in the market.

As long as COD is fun in mostly the same ways it was last year a lot of the same people are going to buy the new one. COD is a safe title because it's a known title. GameStop doesn't exactly put review scores and summaries on all the boxes, which means if you only occasionally buy games everything besides what you know is potentially $60 for a pile of trash.

Yes, there are ways to educate yourself about games before buying them. But if you don't know they exist you may not know to go looking for them.

I think the games industry as a whole is doing alright. I haven't bought a triple-A game in quite a while and I don't miss them in the slightest. Granted, my preferred style of games is not even satisfied by the triple-A industry outside of a small handful of examples (heavily story-driven stuff like BioShock: Infinite and Last of Us). I mostly play hardcore RTS and FPS games that are considerably more complicated and difficult than your mainstream Starcrafts, MOBAs, Call of Duties and Battlefields. As a result, the majority of games I play are made either by indie developers or are put out by small-time publishers like Focus or Paradox.

Unfortunately the core problem (or at least a big part of it) falls to non-gamers. By which I mean the mobile casuals, the CoD and Madden bro's, and the rest of the uninformed masses. Real gamers have long since gotten wise to the shit these companies pull and know what to stay away from. But the grandparents who barely know what a Mario is aren't going to know if they are going to make their grand kid cry on their birthday. Frat bros are gonna keep buying Madden and CoD cuz it's what all their other bros' are playing and they don't want to be left out. Even hardcore gamers can be to blame buying up yet another Final Fantasy game for the sole reason it has Final Fantasy in the name.

As long as the masses continue to hand over cash for mediocre and bland (or even just plain shit) then these companies will see no reason to improve and compete. They got their slice so what do they care what the rest of us think?

I suppose an eventual crash is possible -- although the likeliest cause would be the final dismantling of the first world middle class by predatory banking and business practices and the financial stresses of climate change. I figure that gives us about 100 more crap installments of COD before we're all too busy with more pressing matters to buy video games.

Gotta agree, a full on crash probably won't happen.

However, I suspect what might happen is a changing of the guard. As big publishing houses continue to lose money and fold, newer companies will take their place. Whether this means we'll be free of the current trend of DRM/DLC/Use our exclusive online service headache, I don't know.

I don't think it will necessarily crash, but I always likened the current state of 'triple A' gaming to be like the old movie studio system of the 70's. Having a new cheaper competitor to deal with in TV, the only way the established mogols new how to respond was to keep making the exact same movies expect making them even bigger & more expensive spectacles, to the point that movies like Ben Hur cost so much there was no way they could make money. Then of course they were saved by the so called Movie Brats, young guys out of film school like Lucas and Spielberg who started making new types of movies that didn't cost nearly as much and people actually went out to see in droves.

I'm more than happy with PC gaming now but I'd love to see the big publishers return to less big budget homogenization and more medium price diversification.

ET literally had nothing to do with causing a crash, that's continually regurgitated on websites for some reason and it's a myth. The issues that caused Atari Inc.'s (and ultimately the industry they were 80% of) downfall were already hitting before ET was even in development. ET was more of a symptom of what was happening and not the cause. You're talking about a company that was making about $2 billion in sales, one bad selling game they spent less than $8 mill developing and promoting isn't going to break an entire company and cause a crash - even in a small part.

Likewise, the "crash" was specifically a consumer industry crash (Coin and computer are separate industries, each with their own resources and markets) and confined to North America (Europe for instance was mainly personal computer based for their gaming at that time, such as the popular Sinclair Spectrum series).

I'm not convinced, simply because of gaming diversity. During the 80s when the gaming industry crashed, there were what 5 companies? 2 gens worth of games?
How many of us still play the PS2? Or 3? Or the 360? Or the SNES? Gameboy? N64? Smartphone apps? F*cking Steam?!
I agree that AAA publishers may crash, but the entire industry? No. There are simply too many indie devs, nostalgia gamers, backwards compatible games, ports, and emulators.
I myself play FF6/3, BattleTanx and Conker's Bad Fur Day on Emulator, and I love Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas. I couldn't care less what happens to AAA market.

So basically we're going to keep getting remakes of Assassin's Creed 2 as long as you* idiots keep buying them.

*general you

bobleponge:
So basically we're going to keep getting remakes of Assassin's Creed 2 as long as you* idiots keep buying them.

*general you

Alas. I don't see myself as an idiot, though. I have some buyer's remorse for Revelations (Since it outstayed its welcome) and AC3 (Which just wasn't fun to play, the game just punished me for attempting). Black Flag however was GREAT and if they do more of that, I'm happy with the series as a whole.

By the time AAA falls apart, the laid off, and independent will have already put on a few years and grown. We may be looking at the next, Nintendo and Id Software of the future someday, and look at how far their ideas pushed gaming.

All it takes is some fresh adaptable games.

Am I the only one that's kinda depressed in that, at least from Yahtzee's point of view, the only two avenues we have right now are:

1) Stop buying the Triple A garbage, and risk a crash and burn in said part of the industry.
2) Continue buying them, and nothing changes.

I know these are relatively extremist stances and it's likely that the former would happen if profits did dip 97% in the next year, but the reality that the saturated Triple A part of the game industry is so saturated to the point where the only sensible plan to some people is to simply torch and burn it is rather sobering. I really, really don't care for every incarnation of Call of Duty that gets released every year (although Advanced Warfare does like kinda nice OHDEARGODI'MFALLINGINTOTHETRAP), but the fact remains that there are still people in those studios making those games, and that the only likelihood of seeing a break in this trend might jeopardize their livelihoods is... you know... not that satisfying.

Sadly I don't think it's actually going to crash for AAA gaming. It's going to be the worst possible outcome instead - many studios will fall apart, but the biggest (and most despicable) publishers will survive. That's EA, Activision, Ubisoft and friends.

Now with them EXCLUSIVELY controlling the direction of AAA churning out mainstream slop that remains profitable despite being crap, and locking idiots into subscription services draining their bank accounts month after month, gaming will suck even more than it already does.

I can't wait for this wonderful future.

On the other hand, I absolutely think a mobile gaming crash is coming. The mobile market is rapidly starting to be viewed with distrust and contempt by casual users, with games on the platforms only viewed as banal time wasters instead of any kind of quality experience. Most mobile games aren't profitable, and eventually people will wake up and figure out they really don't want to be wasting their money on this pointless crap anymore - causing the big mobile titles to fall apart. Sort of like how people got burned out on MMOs - even the non-gamers will eventually have had enough of these mobile free to play crap mistransaction fests. As Yahtzee pointed out - the novelty will have worn off. And then you get a Wii U situation - where will the money come from? All real gamers have already been alienated. You have no one left.

The more the budgets increase for AAA games, the less risk developers will take on original ideas and gaming experiences. Soon games will all look and play the same and that will kill gaming. That and increases in DLC and micro-transactions. DLC is fine as an extra but now they advertise it before the game is even released and also cutting out great parts of the game to sell back to us.

ET gets far too much credit. The crash of 83 was more the crash of Atari.

For example, if Valve goes under we will see a PC Gaming Crash. Steam has cannibalized the retail market, and EA is just as toxic as ever. Valve going under would be bad. I could see people abandoning Steam in waves because of how they've collected all the garbage on their front page for all to see.

The Console market isn't nearly as bad because it isn't as centralized. However, MS is currently undergoing massive changes. They could cut their losses and abandon consoles entirely in favor of actually taking their Android Profits, and not subsidizing the Console market any more. A lot of big developers have married themselves to MS. That kind of change could hurt a lot of developers.

Sony isn't exactly in a great position ether as a company, but at least they aren't subsidizing the way MS has. As long as they sell off their gaming division before they implode things will be all right.

Nintendo has to make a lot of mistakes to get where Sony is.

AAA companies can definitely go bankrupt and give room for other smaller companies to grow. So, there won't be a total crash. But something like a controlled demolition could still take place.

Video game crash predictions?

Ooh, ooh here's my two cents worth.

I believe that the big Japanese 3rd party publishers are going to crash this generation.

That's Konami, Capcom, Square Enix, Bandai Namco and Sega Sammy.

Japan's largest 3rd party publisher game shipment info.

From 1st April - 30th June 2014

Capcom - 1.4 million ( retail & Digital )

( http://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/data/pdf/explanation/2014/1st/explanation_2014_1st_01.pdf ) Page 14

Square Enix - 3.11 million ( retail only )

( http://www.hd.square-enix.com/eng/news/pdf/15q1slides.pdf ) page 7

Bandai Namco - 3,656,000

( http://www.bandainamco.co.jp/files/E8A39CE8B6B3E8B387E69699EFBC88E88BB1E78988EFBC89_2.pdf ) page 3

Sega Sammy - 1.7 million ( retail only )

( http://www.segasammy.co.jp/english/pdf/release/2015_1q_presentation_e_final_v3.pdf ) page 15

Konami - 1.29 million

( http://www.konami.co.jp/en/ir/ir-data/meeting/2014/0805_486481.pdf ) Page 6

When western publishers have games that sell in 1 week, on 1 platform more than what all 5 of them ship in 3 months it can't be good.

medv4380:
ET gets far too much credit. The crash of 83 was more the crash of Atari.

For example, if Valve goes under we will see a PC Gaming Crash. Steam has cannibalized the retail market, and EA is just as toxic as ever. Valve going under would be bad. I could see people abandoning Steam in waves because of how they've collected all the garbage on their front page for all to see.

The Console market isn't nearly as bad because it isn't as centralized. However, MS is currently undergoing massive changes. They could cut their losses and abandon consoles entirely in favor of actually taking their Android Profits, and not subsidizing the Console market any more. A lot of big developers have married themselves to MS. That kind of change could hurt a lot of developers.

Sony isn't exactly in a great position ether as a company, but at least they aren't subsidizing the way MS has. As long as they sell off their gaming division before they implode things will be all right.

Nintendo has to make a lot of mistakes to get where Sony is.

If Valve went under then everyone would lose there entire steam catalogue it wouldn't be a PC games crash it would end it.

Silentpony:
I'm not convinced, simply because of gaming diversity. During the 80s when the gaming industry crashed, there were what 5 companies? 2 gens worth of games?

Not sure where you got that idea, there were around 130 publishers world wide for the Atari 2600 alone. That doesn't include the six or so other consoles on the market and their third party publishers, plus all the video coin companies and the even larger amount of game publishers for computers as well.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Like Yathzee said, for unemployed developers, starting an indie studio is becoming the standard. The AAA industry is bleeding talent, and relies on old ideas staying popular, while all the NEW big hits are coming from outside of it.

I'm not even talking about Old IPs here, that's a meaningless distraction. Anyone can easily make up a "universe" or a character. Just not a very interesting one. The indusry is trying to revitalize interest with Titanfall and Watch Dogs, even though they are essentially sequels to CoD and Assassin's Creed in the sense that the same people buy them for the exact same reasons.

Meanwhile, indies are inventing not just IPs, but whole new, evolving genres, business models, and what it even means to make a video game.

10 years ago, the AAA industry was the gaming industry. Nowadays, it has narrowed itself down to be one of the niches that one might be interested in, with many core gamers boasting about how rarely they play AAA games. This same trend will continue, AAA games will become more and more irrelevant until their name looses it's meaning.

Of course there will NOT be a crash. The quality of the AAA titles released today is head shoulders above 99% of the games released back in the 80's. Sure, us "core" gamers may not like the design direction of these new titles, but we are a smaller part of the market then we used to be, and we have to get used to that. Yahtzee says these games are bad but really they are just not to his taste.
Be prepared for more articles and posts like this that lament how shit everything has become and how the average gamer is a fool who will buy anything. What that person is really saying is "mainstream video games are leaving me behind".

Entitled:
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Like Yathzee said, for unemployed developers, starting an indie studio is becoming the standard. The AAA industry is bleeding talent, and relies on old ideas staying popular, while all the NEW big hits are coming from outside of it.

I'm not even talking about Old IPs here, that's a meaningless distraction. Anyone can easily make up a "universe" or a character. Just not a very interesting one. The indusry is trying to revitalize interest with Titanfall and Watch Dogs, even though they are essentially sequels to CoD and Assassin's Creed in the sense that the same people buy them for the exact same reasons.

Meanwhile, indies are inventing not just IPs, but whole new, evolving genres, business models, and what it even means to make a video game.

10 years ago, the AAA industry was the gaming industry. Nowadays, it has narrowed itself down to be one of the niches that one might be interested in, with many core gamers boasting about how rarely they play AAA games. This same trend will continue, AAA games will become more and more irrelevant until their name looses it's meaning.

AAA bleeds talent as a business model, they work you hard for as long as you'll take it, I believe the average is five years, and then replace you with a cheap kid right out of school. IP is certainly not a meaningless distraction, look at the loyalty that still exists, 30+ years later, for a property like Star Wars. You take juggernauts like GTA, COD, Elder Scrolls, Halo, this IP means something and will mean instant sales for years to come.

Now I will agree with you that so called "indie" developers are doing some great stuff, and I think the most exciting new games are coming out of that space. But the idea that the AAA industry is anything other than ascendent right now is kind of wishful thinking.

MartyGoldberg:
ET literally had nothing to do with causing a crash, that's continually regurgitated on websites for some reason and it's a myth. The issues that caused Atari Inc.'s (and ultimately the industry they were 80% of) downfall were already hitting before ET was even in development. ET was more of a symptom of what was happening and not the cause. You're talking about a company that was making about $2 billion in sales, one bad selling game they spent less than $8 mill developing and promoting isn't going to break an entire company and cause a crash - even in a small part.

Likewise, the "crash" was specifically a consumer industry crash (Coin and computer are separate industries, each with their own resources and markets) and confined to North America (Europe for instance was mainly personal computer based for their gaming at that time, such as the popular Sinclair Spectrum series).

I'm Swedish and the Spectrum and C64 carried me and my brother through those dark ages until the NES and Amiga came along. Can only confirm that the crash didn't affect either of us much; we hadn't really heard of consoles until the NES appeared. At the time, a dedicated gaming system sounded so awesome! And it was!

I don't think it will be a full crash either. I think the AAA market will go the way CoD has been going for three years now. It will gradually start selling less and less copies which still dwarf the competition, but don't sate the share holder's desires. Companies get sold, go bankrupt or go into other things like indie games.

Sgt. Sykes:
This thing doesn't happen. The video game crash was very specific and unique. Was there ever any other such event in history? Where consumers just stop buying stuff with no external reason? I can't recall any.

It is unique but similar enough things have happened, all the way back to people not buying horse and buggy whips because they got cars. Yahoo regularly publishes a top ten industries wiped out by the Internet. I wouldn't want to buy a Tower Records anytime soon. And South Park had a fun episode about Stan's Dad buying a Blockbuster Video.

But if AAA games today have an issue, it is with Glut.

I have nearly 200 Steam Games. About 120 console games including Vita games. I get all sorts of free games with PSN+.

I will never live long enough to play a fraction of what I already have.

And great games are selling for under $5.

But as one poster put it: I can't imagine paying $60 for a new game. Unless I do. With everything I already have, I got GTA V full price anyway. Mario Kart 8 too. Infamous 2nd Son and Black Flag for PS4. But this has been over the course of a year. I don't know if that kind of sparse purchasing is enough to save the AAA industry or not.

Gorfias:
It is unique but similar enough things have happened, all the way back to people not buying horse and buggy whips because they got cars. Yahoo regularly publishes a top ten industries wiped out by the Internet. I wouldn't want to buy a Tower Records anytime soon.

That's market disruption I mentioned. That happens. CDs replaced vinyl, smartphones replaced regular phones, internet replaced a lot of stuff etc. If you have 200 games and don't buy anymore, that's market saturation. That happens too. It happened to personal computers for example.

Consumers stop buying things for various reasons but I really can't recall anything similar to the videogame crash. It's like people suddenly stop buying Coca Cola, not to replace it with another pop drink, but just because they suddenly stop liking it. Or stop buying light bulbs, not even to replace the broken ones, just because they don't want to have light at night anymore. This just... Really doesn't happen.

"Electronics are changing so rapidly. And each change of electronics brings something new. So this (videogames) is not a passing fad. What is a fad is the kind of games that people like to play."

Does somebody know when was this said?

the AAA industry should collapse again (i'd call it gamings ragnarok) and make way for talented indie devs and the few decent publishers.

youji itami:
Video game crash predictions?

Ooh, ooh here's my two cents worth.

I believe that the big Japanese 3rd party publishers are going to crash this generation.

That's Konami, Capcom, Square Enix, Bandai Namco and Sega Sammy.

Japan's largest 3rd party publisher game shipment info.

From 1st April - 30th June 2014

Capcom - 1.4 million ( retail & Digital )

( http://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/data/pdf/explanation/2014/1st/explanation_2014_1st_01.pdf ) Page 14

Square Enix - 3.11 million ( retail only )

( http://www.hd.square-enix.com/eng/news/pdf/15q1slides.pdf ) page 7

Bandai Namco - 3,656,000

( http://www.bandainamco.co.jp/files/E8A39CE8B6B3E8B387E69699EFBC88E88BB1E78988EFBC89_2.pdf ) page 3

Sega Sammy - 1.7 million ( retail only )

( http://www.segasammy.co.jp/english/pdf/release/2015_1q_presentation_e_final_v3.pdf ) page 15

Konami - 1.29 million

( http://www.konami.co.jp/en/ir/ir-data/meeting/2014/0805_486481.pdf ) Page 6

When western publishers have games that sell in 1 week, on 1 platform more than what all 5 of them ship in 3 months it can't be good.

And yet, the western publishers' sales barely cover the cost of publishing AAA titles. Publishers like Ubisoft keep canceling their side projects in order to keep their AAA games in production. That can't be good either.

So the message is, "The video games industry (or at least parts thereof) will only crash if you pitch in and do your part?"

That's a little cold. Funny. Probably true. Maybe even desirable. But cold.

It is kind of funny, though. Atari was run, on a certain level, by people who were kind of crap at their business. Hindsight is always 20-20, and all, but if you think of the cost of letting your most talented creators put a signature on their games versus the cost of having them walk out and form a competitor... Or the basic sense of not creating more copies of a game than you can possibly sell, even if you're wildly optimistic...

...And yet, it sounds like the explosion at Infinity Ward wasn't that far removed in the "take the people who make your games seriously" department, and there were games in the PS3 era that it was noted would have to allegedly sell two-and-a-half copies for every system in a home to make back their costs, so, Yahtzee's right about at least one thing: we don't seem to learn.

We're paying for a staff roll that runs for a solid ten minutes with day-one DLC, in-game purchases, and a pre-order system designed to make highly advertised games immune to reviews. It doesn't seem like it should take much for people to get fed up at this point.

The marketing bit deserves more emphasis.

Mediocrity + loud marketing is good enough to sell the same derived AAA games to the next generation.

When you haven't played many good games yet, even a mediocre title can be very entertaining and originality won't even come into it at all.
The real shit doesn't get the marketing treatment and won't burn many unwitting customers on gaming.

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