Casual gaming is getting out of control. The market is getting oversaturated. Long ago, Zynga started losing money to their own games. Why buy premium content for Farmville when you can just play another Farmville clone? Free-mium models for basic, chore-based gameplay seems to be breaking down. So what’s going to happen to this (large) corner of the industry?
I’d like to cite the Video Game Crash of 1983. Video games, being a new industry, were just starting to be exploited (which was easy, considering no real standards had been set). Atari games were being produced at a rapid rate, with very little attention paid to quality control. As long as someone had something remotely playable, it would go to market. This was bad for companies and worse for consumers. A famous example was the ET game. Literal truckloads of the cartridges were dumped into a landfill, because it was so unplayable.
Consumers, unable to find high quality games, responded by not buying games. With such a sudden change in sales, some of the biggest game companies simply left the business. At first everyone was making games, then no one was.
If it wasn’t for Nintendo’s market strategy to control game publishing, it’s possible that video games would’ve taken decades to catch on again.
In essence, a flood of mediocre games leads to a massive decrease in sales across the board. Zynga, amongst the other big casual game companies, are playing a dangerous game. What will be the consequences? It definitely won’t crash the hardcore industry, but it could certainly have negative effects. However, I have little expectation that the casual game industry is in any way sustainable.
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