To be honest, I would be fine if modern gaming ended. This may be a controversial take, but it would not bother me if the big publishers/developers were forced to find something new to do. It happened once before, and I do believe that it is inevitable that it will happen again. The best days of gaming may very well be behind us.
The Console Manuacturers
Many younger people may not believe it but at one time there were many companies developing game consoles. Now we have three. Just a little over twenty-five years ago, Sega was a prominent console manufacturer. They were struggling to keep up with Nintendo and Sony, but they were there. Ever since the PlayStation was released, it has been a dominant force in the gaming landscape, and crushed the competition in each subsequent generation.
Nintendo has had three very successful consoles: the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Wii and now the Nintendo Switch.
Prior to game consoles, Nintendo made toys, and before that, playing cards. The company was founded in 1889, and up until Satoru Iwata, the company was controlled by founding family. Gaming has been the focus since the early 1980s. There is no reason that Nintendo could not evolve into another industry, if they needed to do so.
Of course, the Switch has been a huge success, with a great deal of independent support. Even if the large companies, like Namco, Capcom and Square disappear, the independent developers could continue to support the Switch. If Nintendo does release new hardware, I just want to have it backwards compatible with the Switch.
In short, even if the industry does crater, I expect Nintendo to remain. With its 134-year history, the company has seen “ups” and “downs” before.
For many years, SEGA was Nintendo’s dominate rival in certain areas. In Europe, they were far more successful than Nintendo, but in Japan and the United States, the 8-bit days were far kinder to Nintendo. Actually, for that matter, until the Sega Saturn, none of the SEGA consoles were successful in Japan. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful anywhere else. Once SEGA went multi-platform, their finances turned around and released games on rival consoles.
I never get tired of seeing these two logos at the beginning of F-Zero GX:
SEGA is now one of those “large publishers,” I mentioned earlier. Like Nintendo, the company has decades of retro games and consoles to focus on, along with a huge “retro” arcade presence. I expect the company will be fine, regardless of a crash in the gaming industry.
Microsoft needs no introduction, as long as you are aware that they existed a long time before videos games. The software giant made its money with DOS and Windows, and has ventured into Office products and server systems. Video games are a small fraction of their products. Regardless of the industry, I do not believe Microsoft will stay in the console market. Game Pass and PC games are their future.
Microsoft released their first Xbox because of the lagging sales of personal computer (PC) games. If any device becomes the dominant force in video games, it will be the PC. Even though, I did not have a good experience with the Steam Deck, PC gaming and portable devices to play those games are here to stay.
Microsoft no longer has any real need to develop a game console. Nearly every “modern” Xbox game is released on the PC as well. Sony is trending in that direction too, but those games arrive much later. Microsoft releases games on both Xbox and PC, often on Game Pass on the same day.
Let me ask you a serious question: can anybody look at the way the current Xbox is being supported and say, “self, that is one strongly supported console.” While Nintendo and PlayStation get a flurry of games, Xbox Series X|S gets a trickle. I know the head of Xbox says otherwise, but actions speak louder than words.
Sony’s Play Station (yes, that is how it was originally spelled) has been a dominant force in the video game industry for five generations. During the days of the Super Nintendo (SNES), they dipped their metaphorical toes in the water with the sound chip for the SNES. They even partnered with Nintendo to develop a SNES CD add-on, until Nintendo broke the contract and announced a relationship with Phillips, the very next day after Sony’s announcement. That would be enough to piss me off too. After that, it was “on like Donkey Kong!”
Sony immediately flipped the script. Video games were trending towards $70 during the 16-bit generation. Virtua Racer on the Sega Genesis was $100, and it was awful.
Most SNES games were already at the $70 mark and Sony released the PlayStation (now spelled this way) with games that were at most, $50. During the first console’s lifecycle, the first-party games were priced at $40. Eventually, Sony released the “Greatest Hits” line, where the games were $20. During this time, Nintendo was charging $70-$80 for each Nintendo 64 cartridge and SEGA barely sold any games in the United States.
Sony appealed to an older crowd. In fact, it was MY generation that was most impressed. We grew up with the NES and then migrated to the Sega Genesis and SNES. As we got older, video games matured. By the time the original PlayStation came around, I was in college (late teens/early 20s). In fact, if and when video games were discussed, games like Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil were the focus. Nobody really cared about Mario by this point.
Truth be told, I did have a Nintendo 64, which I bought at launch (in fact, I still have it) but other than Star Fox 64, my time was spent on the PlayStation.
To this day, Castlevania – Symphony of the Night is my favorite game. It’s a shame Konami changed the voice-overs. See for yourself in the video below:
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is still the most successful game console of all time. It sold more units than any other console in history. The PlayStation 3 (PS3) struggled at the beginning of its life. I have a launch unit, but they are prone to failure, so it does not get used much. I ended up buying a PS3 Slim after sending my second 60 GB PS3 back to Sony. My PlayStation 4 (PS4) has been solid and as a console; it clearly beat out the Xbox One. The PlayStation 5 (PS5) has followed that trend.
The Next Industrial Collapse
The gaming industry will eventually fail. I realize that I have a very pessimistic tone, but it is inevitable. I think the the large publishers will migrate to the PC and make software, like they did before. Activision is a prime example. It was the first third-party publisher to exist and weathered the storm after 1984. Activision will likely be a subsidiary of Microsoft by the time the collapse occurs, but they will be fine. Capcom already makes PC games and so does Bandai Namco. Square Enix makes PC games as well, but it seems that they are slowing selling off their intellectual properties. A prime example is the sale of Tomb Raider to the Embracer Group. Amazon, of all companies is developing a Tomb Raider game. If the rumors are true, then Square Enix will be a subsidiary of Sony’s PlayStation division.
Nintendo will continue to thrive regardless of the industry. While video games are their dominant source of income, the company has survived for well over a century. They will be fine.
Back in my youth, Sony made the absolute best home technology. While you can’t go into a Best Buy and see many Sony products anymore, except for the PlayStation, they have diversified their portfolio into movies and enterprise technology. I cannot imagine that Sony would be in a serious predicament if the video game industry collapses.
So there you have it; even when the gaming industry collapse, it will not “really” collapse. PCs will be the dominant force. We may not have game consoles anymore, but games will still exist. The advancement of technology has all but secured gaming for the foreseeable future. Video games might just be replaced by PCs and mobile phone games.