Game affluence
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 December 2012, 3:53 am
I have a library of Steam games of which I haven't played half. I have lots of games installed on my iPad that I haven't had the time to play yet. I'm playing only a few Facebook games out of thousands available. My Playstation 3 is collecting dust, because I don't even keep up to date what games come out on that platform. And I don't even have an XBox or Wii. There are simply too many games coming out for me to play them all. We always talk about how the devs of one MMORPG can't possibly create content fast enough to please the contentivores, but in aggregate all game developers together are producing far more content and far more games than a person could possibly play.

For MMORPGs that has two major consequences, which are related: If you play just one MMORPG all the time, you are missing out on a lot of other games. And because people don't want to miss out on potentially fun new games while grinding in some MMORPG, MMORPGs can't seem to hold onto their players any more. It is the law of supply and demand, in this world of over-supply of games it becomes hard to make money with games. You can play a lot of games on various platforms for free, mobile games usually just cost a few bucks, and you can get PC games from this year at a Steam sale for half price or less.

Sooner or later this is going to end up in a huge crash like the one we had 30 years ago. Wikipedia says about the 1983 crash: "There were several reasons for the crash, but the main cause was supersaturation of the market with hundreds of mostly low-quality games which resulted in the loss of consumer confidence.". Doesn't that sound familiar? Only the "hundreds" part today has to be replaced by "thousands". There is simply a limited supply of people with money and time to spend on games, and too many companies producing too many games to go after that limited pool. And if you can't make big bucks with your big budget game any more, the budget of your next game will be smaller, and quality might get lower. At some point the market is so saturated by cheap Free2Play games, that another $300 million triple-A game is out of the question.

I'd say enjoy the affluence of cheap games while they last. But basic economics tells us that they won't last forever.
Tobold's Blog

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