Are Videogames Dead?

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With slumping sales and layoffs left and right these days, can we justifiably say that we’re in the end times of the games industry? That’s the question a two part documentary from industry guru Scott Steinberg is asking.

The myth of the “recession proof” games industry has been thoroughly busted. In recent months we’ve seen sales slump, studios shut down and every week seems to bring more and more bad news. So is this the end of the games industry?

That’s the question at the heart of the season premiere of Players Only, a documentary series headed up by industry guru Scott Steinberg. Titled “Video Games Are Dead,” the two-part premiere carries a melodramatic title, but it’s a very even-handed and interesting look at where the business and hobby of videogames is going that’s not shy about saying goodbye to the past and looking ahead.

Steinberg interviews plenty of big names over the course of the first episode. Everyone from studio heads like Epic’s Mike Capps to journalists like Chris Kohler to analysts like the ubiquitous Michael Pachter show up to share their thoughts on the current “crisis” facing the games industry. Topics touched upon include the problem with big-budget game development, digital distribution and on-demand gaming and more.

A more appropriate title for the episode might be “Video Games Are Dead (As We Know Them),” because the focus of the series seems to be less on proving the industry is in a rut than showing that yeah, things are kinda iffy in terms of the business part right now, but that’s as much a part of some serious growing pains as anything else. The games industry is in an interesting transition stage right now, everyone Steinberg talked to seems to agree. Some are drastic about their predictions (Oddworld Inhabitants’ Lorne Lanning, who says retail will go the way of the vinyl in five years’ time), some are less so. Either way, lots of interesting opinions from genuine authorities here. Check it out.

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