Editorial: Game Sales Were Bound to Decline. Deal With It!
So lately it seems like every other article I read about videogames is how horrible sales have been declining. This week we’re 36% under last year, RPG’s are 22% less likely to sell than FPS’s, gaming in general is 1209320811098% below the red! (Note: These are not real numbers.) To sum it up, it seems like people are no longer buying games. So people like you, and me, and the people who love them, are probably all screwed up the hind-parts right? Right?
I say, “WRONG” and in capital letters for even more asinine emphasis. Sure, sales are lacking. Especially when we compare them to the last couple years. Any type of decline is measured as a failure in most respects. However, I think we all need to chill for a second and take a look at the bigger picture. We might not be in as deep a hole as many people think.
Case in point. One word. Wii.
That’s it. That’s all the information we need to know to realize everything is going to be alright. Game sales, on a whole will not and are not going to get so low that developers and companies will start dropping like undies on a horny teen. No, we’re gonna ride this rollercoaster as far as we can, and things will be alright.
On a more journalistic and studious front I want to share some numbers with you. Between the years of 2002-2005 the gaming industry was practically stagnant in sales. For these 4 years, gaming was making about ten billion dollars, according to the NPD numbers. Four years, with barely any rise or fall. However, once 2006 came along, things started to get interesting. 360 was already on the market, but 2006 saw the entry of the incredibly sexy, yet ungodly expensive Playstation 3, and…the cute, tiny, first-ever motion controlled console, the Nintendo Wii. But these two consoles only appeared at the tail end of 2006 resulting in a small but overall rise in games sales to 12.5 billion.
The thing is, making it to 12.5 was a great increase. But during the next two years something crazy happened. Something happened that if you mentioned it in the Gamecube’s lifetime you would immediately lose all your friends, have tomatoes thrown at your head, and be exiled from your home…Nintendo was winning the games race. Nintendo had the console to beat. Nintendo Wii was selling like hotcakes and no one, not even Nintendo themselves (since they were so hard to keep in stock) could believe it. The magic of the Wii was what it promised. Motion control was new and exciting so of course gamers were ready to get their hands on this new tech. But Nintendo began a movement. You finally had a console on the market that didn’t rely on graphics, complicated buttons, or even deep engaging games. Anyone could wave their arms around so why not have some fun. The Wii started what I like to call, “The Casual Movement.” This movement saw your dad, your grandparents, and even the Amish pick up a wii-mote and start acting a fool. Everyone was playing it. Everyone had to have it. And as far as I can tell, everyone got it. 2007 NPD numbers had videogames sales at 17.9 billion, and 2008 at an astonishing 21.33 billion. In 2008, the Wii sold over 10 million systems. It sold as much as the PS2, PS3, and 360 combined. That’s a lot of Wii’s and that’s a lot of monies.
What I’m getting at is the Wii started this Casual Movement craze that’s still with us today. The difference is that casual fans don’t feel the itch that the more hardcore gamer feels to play a game. I’m being honest when I say I think everyone got a Wii. Sales are going down because everyone has picked their poison, chosen a side, and played what they want to play. Wii’s are now collecting dust for those impulse casual gamers. They may pull it out for a party to play Just Dance, but they aren’t going to keep feeding the machine like in 2007 and 2008. As early as 2009 sales declined to 19.66 billion. But keep in mind, four years earlier we were hanging around 10 billion.
However, it’s not just the Wii. If I’m not reading about sales, I’m reading rumors about the next-gen consoles. Sales are down because the excitement and the allure of this current generation has wore off. Everyone’s got what they want already. Even purchasing new games on the current gen sometimes feels like, “What’s the point? I know what to expect.” Sure, we’re still playing great, amazing games in 2012, but has anything really blown your mind recently? Some of the most interesting games that have come out have been indie games, games that DON’T need powerful or fresh, new, interesting tech to pull them off. The shiny gloss is gone on the current generation, but so long as we gamers keep playing and supporting, our culture won’t fail. Sales won’t be great, but I can guarantee they won’t be abysmal when looking at the big picture. When the new consoles are released I sense a big surge in sales to come.
Now in another 10 years? That’s a whole other argument…