Wow... I'm 47... likely older than many of the gamers here, but I often feel like a rebellious youth screaming "it's not crap... it IS music and I won't turn it down!".
First off I guess we're seeing the first generation of gamers raised WITH gaming. Many of you had NES, gameboy or other systems in your youth. You have fond childhood memories of games and gaming systems. Myself, I guess I'm the last of a generation raised without gaming. Yes, there was the Magnavox Odessey released when I was about 10 years old... but nobody had one. Sales were low and it was not as common as the simple PONG system that we did have (and that only played the one game and was very boring!). Arcade games were around... but by then I was in my late teens, so it was hardly a childhood thing. By the time the NES system was released I was a young adult in my early 20's.
Just as some of you regard the current glut of Imagine and other games aimed at children with disdain... well, to an adult, the NES system was for kids. Instead of an NES I had one of those new (and very expensive) computer systems. I played the Zork games, King's Quest, the original SimCity, Manic Mansion, Myst... and for online play I tried out some early MUD's and MOO's using telnet. My youth though... those ages between 5 and 10 or so... it was pretty much a stick and a hoop! Back in those days we didn't play indoors - we were shoved outside to play with the neighborhood kids until it was bedtime... and we didn't worry about pedophiles, kidnappers, mass murderers and other strangers with candy back then. Not having those fond childhood memories of playing Frogger or Donkey Kong though seems to have given me a different perspective, possibly one not fogged by the rosy lenses of a child's fond remembrances...
Gaming is becoming too expensive... not like back in the old days!
The NES had a release price of $199.99, back in 1983. The Neo-Geo system cost $599.99, in 1990. The Sega Saturn had a release price of $399.99 in 1994. In 1995 the original Playstation released for $299.00 and in 2000, the Playstation 2 released for $300.00. In 2005 the Xbox 360 cost $299.00 for a core unit and $399.00 for a Pro model. In 2006, the PS3 cost $499.00 for a core unit and $599.00 for a Premium model. See where this is going?? That NES system at $199.99, well, back in 1983 the average household income was $21,000/annum and the average new home cost was $90,000. The NES was not a cheap toy, it was an expensive piece of electronics for it's time - similar to what current consoles are.
Shenmue released for the Dreamcast in 2000 for a retail price of $49.00, and most of the new stickers on my Dreamcast games range from $35 to $45 dollars. Back in the early 80's most new NES game releases cost between $40 and $60 dollars.
Overall, gaming is probably cheaper today than it's ever been. Consoles range in price from $199 and up, same as they always have. The console launch prices are more quickly replaced with lower pricing. Games cost between $40 and $60 dollars - a minor inflation given our incomes for the value we currently get. With PSN, Steam and XBL we even get smaller cheaper games available to us. Gaming is not more expensive than in the past... given inflation, it's probably slightly cheaper.
Development costs are insane! The industry is dying!
Huh? Shenmue cost an estimated $70 milliion to make... back in 1999. Final Fantasy IX cost approximately $40 million to make back in 2000, and 9 years later in 2009, Killzone 2 cost about the same. Development costs have always been expensive. Again, given inflation and the larger number of gamers available in the market it's not at all surprising that development costs are also gradually increasing. Hardware manufacturers, developers, publishers... they have always come and gone. I have fond memories of companies like BlackIsle Studios, Acclaim, Westwood... they're all gone but many of the employees went on to work for other companies. Incognito the developers for Warhawk are no more... but most of the employees now work for Lightbox Interactive. The gaming industry has always been somewhat transient. It's the nature of the business and always has been.
The gaming industry is pretty much the same as it's always been. It's expensive, companies come and go... but nowadays there is more opportunity than ever for developers. Larger devs with large budgets still have their place, but with Steam, PSN and XBL, smaller independent devs have more opportunities for commercial success than at any time in the past. Yes, digitial distribution is a good thing.
There's no innovation in today's games... like there was in "my" day.
This is the one that irritates me the most! Are you nuts? Yes, the past was filled with innovative games like 5 versions of Zork, and how many versions of Megaman, Sonic, or Mario?? (just how many Mario games do we need??). Games were harder back then.. yeah, they were more difficult because you essentially played the same game over and over and over again... with increasing difficulty instead of new content. Nowadays you get hundreds of hours from some games... with mostly new content and not just recycled levels. 8 bit gave way to 16 bit graphics... a bad thing? Nowadays we have HD resolution games in full 3D, what's wrong with that?
Thanks to digital distribution (PSN, XBLA, Steam) we have the options to replay old games and play new experimental games by smaller developers. There are loads of triple A titles released each year. New genres are constantly being created like the music genre and genre lines are being blurred with the release of games like Borderlands... an FPSRPG.
There has never been a more exciting time to be a gamer! There are indie games, casual games, retro games, new exciting IP's that took chances - like Mirror's Edge, a platforming game that wasn't a platforming game. Flower and Linger in Shadows... are these even games? With just one game, console online play grew from 64 players online to 256! There are active games, wiimote games... and soon Natal and Sony's Arc games. There are wonderful artistically rendered games like LBP and Fat Princess... and there is the awe inspiring graphical realism of games like Far Cry and Modern Warfare. Wonderful voices now add to the story telling instead of text... but games with text instead of voices still exist. There are games where the input is your voice (Tom Clancy's Endwar). there are small games where the input is the simple Dpad. You can still game with a friend beside you on the couch... or a friend halfway across the world.
Those that love retro games aren't killing gaming. Those that love realistic FPS triple A titles aren't killing gaming. The Wii isn't killing gaming. EA isn't killing gaming. Casual games aren't killing gaming. Gaming is alive and well... and better than at any point in history.
Be happy. It's an exciting time to be a gamer. There is so much choice out there. I'm old... I'm the one that should be yelling about how gaming was so much better back when. Instead I see so many young people doing this. You're not allowed to! It seems so odd to me that I'm the one excited about gaming, about the present and future of gaming. What happened? Is this some odd kind of age reversal thing? The rebellious old folks and the young' uns with their fond remembrances and dire predictions? The gaming world is odd.
Gaming was so much better back when... No! No it wasn't.
LOOK WHO CAME: