We’ll never understand where we’re headed if we don’t remember where we’ve been!
The concept of “roots” may vastly differ from person to person, as some gamers likely have deeper ones than others. Perhaps you’re like me, whose experiences in gaming stretch back to the early/mid ‘80s at the tail-end of Atari. The crash had wound things down, but a new golden age was about to be ushered in with the explosion of Nintendo. Others may not have cut their teeth until the likes the N64 or the PSX generation came alone, which then became their jumping off point. Hell, I’m sure there is even a crowd reading this whose very first hardware was the Xbox or PlayStation 2!
No matter which category you fall into, one fact remains…we’re all part of the same brotherhood (and sisterhood).
So why this nostalgic rant that led to this brief trip down memory lane? It’s simple. I read a study this week that troubled me a bit. A new set of statics for the end of summer may have signaled the beginning (or rather the end) of something I’ve been dreading for quite some time. It appears that game sales took a steep dip in the month of August. At first glance, that might seem troubling for our industry headed into the 2014 holiday season. But if you dig into the data a bit deeper, you’ll find that next-gen sales weren’t affected, but rather it was last-gen sales which dropped off. NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan stated, “…although Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U software sales were up in August over last year, overall software sales took a major hit during August, falling 22 percent. This downturn was driven primarily by gamers abandoning last-generation consoles. Deep declines in seventh generation software (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii) of 57 percent were not offset by growth in eighth generation software, leading to a net decrease of console software sales of $47 million.”
Now it seems we’re left making the “final arrangements” of our long-time friends and reminiscing over their long, fruitful lives.
With the launches of both the Xbox One and PS4, it was inevitable that the 360 and PS3 would eventually fall by the wayside (the market can only sustain keeping a foot in each world for so long). I was just hoping it wouldn’t happen quite so quickly. But alas, these numbers suggest we’ve begun our final decent. Personally, I truly loved the last generation of systems, and feel it was a seminal period in our industry (one that may never be repeated). Innovations that took place yesterday are still being felt today in a big way! First, taking Xbox Live from a simple match-making lobby of late-night frag fests and turning it into a virtual music, movie and game store all rolled into one was a huge watershed moment! Are you a PS4 fan who simply loves gaming on the PSN? You can thank Xbox for that one! And remember, the PS3 rose to iconic pop-culture status itself for many years. From playing host to the most successful franchises of all time, to making numerous appearances in TV, film and music videos, PlayStation became a way of life rather than just a mindless pass time!
I’ll even give our old third-wheel Nintendo some love. Their current outing with the Wii-U might leave a lot to be desired, its predecessor was a serious powerhouse back in 2006. Its quirky style and user friendly controls appealed to the non-gaming crowd, providing a level of accessibility never before seen! For a time, Nintendo was once again a dynasty.
But all good things must come to an end. While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 may soon be downgraded from their own sections at Gamestop (and dumped into the bargain bin next to the register), it’s important to always remember where we came from. I honestly don’t know where our current gaming road leads, or if a future still exists where Nintendo and Microsoft remain viable Sony alternatives. However, no matter what is in store, the past is unchanging. We’ll always have this period to fondly look back on and revisit, which now has become another brick amongst our foundation.
It might sound crazy, but we may need to get accustomed to thinking of the 360 and PS3 as “retro” sooner rather than later.