Gaming: An industry too big to fail?

The video game industry has had its fair share of ups and downs over its short but colourful lifetime. With almost 40 years of experience under its belt since the home-release of Pong, it was safe to say the nearly $100-billion-a-year industry has past its days of infancy.

Up until recently most consumers would have agreed. Things looked bright for the hobby millions of fans adored and obsessed over. Video games are no loner a niche market catering to a small minority, but have found their way into the majority of people’s homes, backpacks and pockets. But even though the video game industry is on the cutting edge of technology, and competing for every consumer’s dollar, a recent trend has left many fans not only upset, but also questioning what will become of their favourite hobby.

“I’m not angry at them, I’m just bitterly disappointed. I’d be disappointed in any company that put out a game that fundamentally does not work.”

This opinion posted by Reddit user solid_smitty was a sentiment shared by nearly 1,000 other users in a Reddit post who were confused as to why their newly-purchased game was simply not working. Users were plagued with the inability to play online modes in the video game “Halo: The Master Chief collection,” something the series promoted as a major selling point.

Usually, this could be passed off as an exception to a well-tuned release of video games, but has instead become a disturbingly normal trend in the industry. The video game “Assassins Creed Unity” suffered from character model’s faces not showing up, as well as game-breaking glitches that often halted users’ progress.

One of the best-selling video games of all time, “World of Warcraft,” recently launched its much-anticipated expansion “Warlords of Draenor.” Users expected to be able to play immediately but were often left with loading screens stating they had upwards of five hours to wait until they could play.

Competition should breed ingenuity, quality and progress in any industry, but has had quite the opposite effect on the video game industry. Developers often feel the pressure to release an unfinished game in order to meet unrealistic deadlines, set to release during optimal seasons, like before Christmas when competition is strongest for sales.

New technology has also allowed for these same developers to then later patch their game via a series of downloads. This allows them to release a game knowingly with bugs, meet their schedule, then release patches that will fix any problems.

This trend echoes eerily similar problems that resulted in the video game crash of 1983. The market became flooded with unfinished games in hopes of capitalizing on the new hobby. This resulted in retailers losing faith in video game market, and pulling existing games and consoles. The industry barely made it out alive, but was the wake up call they needed.

Dylan Seminow

Journalism student, Surrey raised and fan of all things geeky.

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