Gaming biz: 4 reasons 2012 video game sales sucked

by manylaughs on January 15, 2013

The NPD Group (A market research company and, when it comes to gaming, evidently the only one ever referenced by the news-a-sphere. Guess they have eye-catching press releases or something.) announced today that video game sales were off, again, in December, marking the thirteenth month in a row of decline in video game sales, plus a decline in video games on a yearly basis of 22% from 2011.

Pretty brutal, isn’t it? But why? Video games are fun, much more fun than dreary work and real life, so why do video game sales suck?

1. The economy still blows

All that crap about a growing GDP is just corporations making money. The economy still blows. More than 12 million US citizens are on unemployment and nearly another 12 million are considered underemployed – think college grads flipping burgers – or have given up looking for work, totally.

If the choice is between buying food or buying a new video game, guess which one wins.

2. Games cost too much

Throughout the downturn in the economy, game publishers have pretty much kept game prices constant. The MSRP of Call of Duty: Black Ops was $59.99 in 2010 and the MSRP of Call of Duty: Black Ops II cost $59.99 at release 2012. So kudos to them for keeping prices in line, but $60 is still $60.

This is where the gaming industry has failed. When faced with a bad economy other industries lower the price point of their products or offer rebates and other incentives to encourage people to buy. The video game industry has done none of that.

3. Video games lack innovation

As video games have become more corporate, those corporations have been less willing to risk development dollars on anything except for what they know will work. As a result, the gaming charts are filled with sequels: Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, Far Cry 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and on and on. It’s a long list of sequels and that’s great – gamers love to come back and replay the games they love – however, a whole lot of gamers get bored playing the same thing over and over. They want a new story, a new adventure, and, especially, something that seems different and innovative.

The lack of innovation in high-priced video games means players are looking to other sources for something new and different. Those other sources are mobile, casual and indie games. Added bonus: They’re all extra easy on the pocket book, too.

4. There’s a lot of low-cost competition

Pay-to-play video games are up against some brutal competition, now. It used to be that a lot of free-to-play games were crap. That’s not true, anymore. Many good MMOs have gone F2P, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and, just recently, Tera.  League of Legends is F2P and it’s quite possibly the most popular game, today, boasting a player base in the millions. And, as mentioned in item 3, if you’re looking for innovation, indie games are where it’s happening. Most indie games are also free or $20 or less.

When you think about it, with the sucky economy, the high price of video games and the increasing competition for gamers’ time and dollars, it’s not a surprise at all that video game sales are off. The real question is, will they ever recover?

 

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