Game over for PlayStation and Xbox! Are gaming audiences falling out of love with the games console industry?
This could be the beginning of a new level of virtual reality for the gaming industry.
Photo: Harry McNeil
It was a Saturday afternoon in my local games store, two years after next-generation consoles were released. Yet, there are no next-gen consoles in stock and little variety in games. Sony and Microsoft seem to have not gotten past level two in their traditional console war.
The next-generation technology that audiences strive for is unavailable due to supply issues. Increased game development time has come from a self-inflicted high level of standard for developers. ‘I would say that increasing competition and costs has led to a change in how games are designed. They take longer to make, but these products will usually be designed to have "long tails”. This means a product will be released, but it will either have subscription models or a DLC (Downloadable content) that increases its lifespan’, claimed Billy Blake from Creative Assembly.
The pandemics effects are now… Starting to take its toll
The pandemic boom in video games is expected to disappear in 2022. According to Market Watch, analysts expect growth to stall in 2022 and the console market to shrink by 6%. Chip shortages and game delays are testing the patience of eager gamers keen to experiment with new gaming technology, graphics and cinematography. The problems for consoles are worsening as COVID-19 restrictions are dropped worldwide, providing people, especially young, a chance for their attention to be distracted elsewhere.
Impatient and patient gamers
Console gaming now has competitors. The mobile games market alone generated $116.4 billion in 2021. In younger generations, there's a pattern of smaller attention spans. Mobile phone games are perfect for shorter attention spans as they provide instant gratification and endorphins through their simple design. Of course, the mobile gaming industry is wholly digitalised, much like most gaming now.
As next-generation console sales are low, video game release dates are pushed back, is technology setting back video games? Video games are not just the simple fun that I was used to. Video games are more advanced, more competitive. You have to be when the popularity of games is constantly skyrocketing.
By 2022, the video game business will generate $300 billion in sales worldwide. However, the bar has been set so high for game developers that the industry's competitiveness has created an unbeatable boss battle for game developers. For some, this development takes years to overcome. Most console games take three to five years to complete, but recent titles take longer to make than they ever have.
It's either patience for high standards with developers or a backlash from audiences for rushed games that don't work. But current technological developments show that this delicate balance between the industry and its audiences will only be harder to maintain. You only need to look at 2020's Cyberpunk 2077, which was delayed from March into December and then eventually released in an appalling state on consoles.
Billy Blake from Creative Agencies stance on balancing release dates with quality content, ‘We tend to delay our games to release them in a better state. However, with the complexity of modern games, the best testing you will get is from releasing games and seeing the results from thousands of users’. Editorial illustrator, Saffiyah Syed took a stronger stance on this matter ‘I think it's best for game companies to focus more on having less things go wrong than to focus on the release just because their clients want it.’ Are consoles losing their grip on the media market as people start to lose patience waiting for five-year development times?
Photo: Harry McNeil
The pandemic boom in video games is expected to disappear in 2022. According to Market Watch, analysts expect growth to stall in 2022 and the console market to shrink by 6%. Chip shortages and game delays are testing the patience of eager games keen to experiment with new gaming technology, graphics and cinematography.
Is virtual reality and the metaverse the next level for the gaming industry?
The problems for consoles are worsening as COVID-19 restrictions are dropped worldwide, providing people, especially young people, a chance to have their attention distracted elsewhere. According to Market Watch, Videogames are set to give way to Metaverse, ‘With new games proving harder to produce as older games to continue to rake in cash, many are looking to the "metaverse" as the future of the industry.’
There's clearly a balance that must be struck with the gaming industry to keep hold of their target audience's attention. There's a fine line between having the latest technology and being efficient in their latest software and hardware output. Youth counsellor Claire Crawte claimed, ‘Video game makers are always having to keep up with the latest technology just to keep the interest of young people…young people are attracted to things that are up to date in fashion, you know, the latest technology.’
Next-generation gaming has allowed video games to become more than they ever were. The gaming industry is preparing to reach the next level in its development, virtual reality. ‘They're all using the digital world. So, that's why games take longer to produce such a new technology. At the moment, not everyone has it, and there's so much going into that, especially because people want realism. They want it to be realistic. The Oculus isn't very realistic for games. If you look at the meta world at the moment, it's very cartoon-like. It takes longer to develop because it takes up so much processing power. It takes longer to develop.’ Syed claimed.
However, Billy Blake from Creative Assembly undervalues the immediacy of virtual reality in the gaming industry, ‘I think the future of VR has been somewhat overhyped. I believe there are significant problems VR will have to overcome in the future before it becomes mainstream. We are a good few years off from everyone having a VR Headset.
A bad era? Or is this to stay?
With the industry already struggling as it is dealing with next-generation consoles, the priority should be to address the current issues that may have been caused by the pandemic. The potential is there for the gaming industry to thrive. It shouldn't be a question that the gaming industry can't attract the attention of future generations to come with the technology they have. It's just how they overcome this self-made boss battle in the stage of development for the video game industry.