Video Game Fatalist: We Can All ‘Go Home’ Now
May 26, 2013 1 Comment
Somewhere between “Xbox, go home” and Call of Duty: Dog, I came to the profound realization that the video game industry has stopped being about video games.
[Editor’s note: It took you this long?]
When I use the phrase “the (video game) industry,” I do so as I would use the word “Hollywood” when talking about cinema.
No, I do not think that video games are going to die or that the Xbox One is going to “kill gaming.” I have no intention to declare that the sky is falling. The industry is financially healthy and growing. Games will survive; they will still be developed and sold on every system. That’s not what I mean when I say that video games are over. What started as a niche market has increased its annual revenue by a factor of twenty from 1981 to 2011, and as with every multi-billion dollar industry, its insatiable hunger for more profit will outgrow its niche.
Where exactly the uncontrollable growth started is hard to say. It might have been with the current generation or the last one, but the symptoms were there over the years. Mountain Dew and Doritos are just the latest manifestation, and the Xbox One is just the final confirmation of our greatest fear: video games have become a vehicle to sell us other things.
If you are reading this article, on this particular site, you are most likely one of the people who recoiled strongly during yesterday’s Xbox One reveal.
Where are the games? I don’t want TV on my video game console! Voice activation and gestures make me look like a clown!
I understand your reaction, I really do, but this piece of kit is just not for us. You are reading Gather Your Party, you probably hate Call of Duty and I’m pretty sure you also hate FIFA. You think of yourself as a gamer, you like to be informed about the industry, you care.
The Xbox One is the ultimate gaming machine for people who do not play video games.
I have read flowery comparisons illustrating that this move in marketing makes no sense, but the truth is that it makes perfect sense. It is a device for all the people who are currently not playing video games but would like something to replace their old DVD player.
If they say you need it, people will want it. Impossible? Quite the contrary.
A lot of people I know own the PS3 as a Blu-ray player that can also occasionally entertain the neighbors’ kids for half an hour with Killzone. I am not the target audience anymore, and if you are reading this, neither are you. Video Games are now the gimmick to sell other things you want sold.
Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, although you made it happen by purchasing all the services.
It was inevitable, just like Hollywood stopped being about movies somewhere around the 50s; our small piece of heaven was not forever and would ultimately be swallowed by that dragon known as capitalism. All we can do now is turn the lights off on our way out and accept that our role in the industry has ended.
Whatever the future brings, it is not aimed at us anymore, video games have officially hit the mainstream. If you read my previous article on franchise identity, you will understand the parallel I’m drawing. The small incursions we have experienced over the years, the always online, the social, the sponsors, the live stream entertainment, the gaming press being less interested in games than in the drama surrounding games, they all were symptoms and we didn’t listen.
To quote Rick Munarriz from The Motley Fool:
Making TV social is the ultimate goal of Xbox One, and that’s no game.
Halo has become a TV series, video games are over, and we can all “go home” now.