Will recession be good for gaming?

So when the recession came back in 01-02 I played a lot of games and a lot of games that I liked came out.

I think that lots of people not being able to work two jobs (or one job) or overtime (or any time in some cases) will mean lots of people with time on their hands and lots of real world problems to escape from.

However I do also think that since games are in the pipeline for years sometimes before they come out that other than the casual market there won’t really be a way for gaming companies to capitalize on it.

I predict worldwide WOW subscriptions to go through the roof.

My understanding is that entertainment industries are one of the last to suffer in recessions. People want to escape and movies, video games, etc. are great vehicles for that. A good video game can give you hundreds of hours of entertainment so that’s good value for the limited buck.

Yeah, people should be gaming more, based on historical trends. I think there are a TON of great games coming out. As you say, there isn’t a way for companies to intentionally capitalize on it. But a lot of companies will be happy enough, I think.

Still, paying for a movie or DVD is still cheaper than buying a new video game, so I guess it depends on how much disposable income people still have.

I heard that libraries are seeing a huge influx of people during a downturn in the economy. So perhaps we’ll see something similar with movies and games, where more people switch to movie rentals or netflix, and more people buy used games from Gamestop and trade-in more of their newer games after they are done.

It’s been terrible for my gaming so far. My entire discretionary spending budget has been reduced to $40 a month. That means I can’t repair or replace failed hardware (360), upgrade PC components, or buy a new game more than once every other month.

I play a lot of WoW (though paying a sub fee and buying the expansion in the same month isn’t going to happen) and, as Rock8man said, I read a lot of books from the library.

All that said, I look around and I don’t see many other people cutting their entertainment spending. I suspect the gaming industry will fare better than a lot of others at least in the early months of the coming troubles.

Typically during a recession, people switch to cheaper leisure-time alternatives: e.g., instead of eating out at a nice restaurant, they just grab carryout or cook at home more often; instead of going out to the movies or buying a lot of books, they’ll rent more DVDs or go to the library. So while the recession might be good for gaming - in the sense that people will spend more time staying at home playing games rather than going out - it might not be good for the game industry. I suspect that people will tend to rent or buy used games more often; and will stick to “safe” proven franchises which provide a lot of play value for their money.

Also, are there any mega-hits on a par with Halo 3 or CoD 4 due out this holiday season? It might simply be an off-year without titles like them to drag up the market, exacerbated by the recession. I’m sure WoW:WotLK will sell a hojillion copies, but it can’t carry the market by itself.

Many articles have been published covering the fact that the entertainment industry is fairly recession-proof thanks to people wanting to escape from the pressures of everyday life. I think that’s true to a point, though if things get really bad the dollars will shift from premium entertainment like first-run movies and newly released games to more affordable fare such as DVD rentals and bargain bin and used games.

If I cut money from the budget for dining out and entertainment though it’s NOT going to get reallocated for gaming. Instead I’ll end up playing through some of my backlog, which is free and consumes hours of my time. Alternatively I’ll become more involved in whatever MMORPG I’m currently playing (LotRO at the moment) and that will eat up my gaming hours.

Given how hard the financial sector has been hit the past year, I think it will mean that funding new projects will become a lot more expensive in the upcoming few years…which will most likely mean that risky, unproven games will be passed over in favor of established franchises.

…of course, that’s happening to a large extent already :P

My guess is that the biggest slowdown will be in games targeted towards children as those are largely purchased by parents and therefore more likely to be squeezed out as people adjust their budgets. adult titles will still probably do fine as those purchases are largely self funded and gamers tend to put more of an importance on buying games in their own budgets then the former.

My personal games budget has decreased dramatically. In the past month, I’ve picked up: TFU, Spore, Rockband2, and Colonialization all on or close to release date. Even with games I really want to play, like Fable II, Fallout 3, and Saint’s Row 2 (Damn you Tom Chick and your favorable review), I can’t justify the purchase. My pre-order of Mines of Moria will most likely be the last game I buy this year.

This is absolutely true. Even if gamers player more games—new or used? new or existing ones?—more developers will shut down because they can no longer secure the loans needed to float the company between projects. And as publishers feel the same loan squeeze and see more market turbulence, they’ll fund fewer projects and cancel others that may be somewhat riskier.

Maybe this will be good for the industry in some ways. I mean, it’s costing more and more to develop games these days, but the “fun factor” just isn’t in line with the production cost. Case in point, I’m having more fun playing Eschalon: Book 1 than I had playing Oblivion. Granted, I’m a bit of a kook, but the point remains.

Haven’t played Eschalon, but I think your point is correct. The fun factor hasn’t really scaled up that much.

I agree, I think that part of the reason we were all whining in 04-05 about the terrible game selection was because of the 01-02 economic cutbacks.

I was thinking about who the winners of the recession may be in the gaming world and I’m thinking that along with Blizzard will be:

  1. Digital download services-they can “stock” older games at discount prices and not have to create foot traffic or give up high margin shelf space.

  2. Gamestop-if I had a mountain of old gaming systems and games that I bought at pennies on the dollar I’d feel like I had a pretty good chance of selling some of them when people have tons of time but not a lot of money. Those stacks of PS2s and Xboxes and Gamecubes that are sitting around in my local gamestop are probably looking like good Christmas gifts. You can get a $399 PS3 with $60 games OR you can buy a previous gen console and 10 games for $100.

Any game studio out there depending on bank lines of credit is finished, end of story.

The answer is pretty simple: no, for a lot of the reasons that folks have already mentioned.

There is a difference between being one of the last affected and doing well.

There is a difference between purchasing new games and taking advantage of things like the secondary market or playing what you already have. The latter is something I’m more likely to do.

Tight economic times will thin the market, leaving behind the big releases but starving the outliers. If you thought publishers were nervous before …

If this recession is short then it will have no effect, however if it’s 3+ years long then yes it will hurt gaming. Why, you ask? One: As money becomes tighter people will have to make a choice between eating and playing games. Eating always wins for some reason. Also people who have money now and start seeing their hours cut back and when their income starts to drop and it will if this recession lasts, will have to make tough choices. For instance a person has 2 or 3 subscriptions to mmo’s and one of them happens to be WOW, which one do you think they will choose to keep? Companies like EA and Blizzard will make it, but any studio on the edge will most likely fail. So what happens in the end is that 3-5 game companies survive and they bought up all the little guys along with their games. In 4 - 5 years gaming is controled by a few large companies and these companies main focus may not even be games. It has been mentioned that entertainment is recession proof and it may be, but if you go back to the great depression you will find that there were lots of studios making movies at the beginning and only a handfull at the end and those few got to dictate who could and could not work in the industry. That kept innovation down, didn’t eliminate it but it did hamper it. If you think the gaming industry isn’t creative now, just wait until it’s dominated by a few compainies who have to look at their bottom line just to survive. I believe this senario will happen if we have a deep recession for 3+ years. Any mild recession less than 3 years won’t have much of an effect.

Yup, and this would be most studios who don’t have a very recent huge hit.

For all the people that think this shakeup could be a good thing, you might want to start saying goodbye to games like Brutal Legend, which is likely funded by lines of credit (or maybe “lines of Jack Black”). If a developer doesn’t have a deal, it’s toast. If a publisher withholds a milestone payment for any reason, it’s toast.

Developers will be forced to sign terrible deals for terrible games they don’t want to do just to keep the doors open. Yay to this wonderful future!

While I wouldn’t want to get in the way of any “things were better in the good old days” kinds of ranting, what you may be seeing is something I’ve talked about a lot specifically with sports games: visual improvements and breakthroughs come at a much more rapid pace then gameplay ones. But the visuals also create higher expectations in players, so when you see everything look awesome, you expect a corresponding increase in awesome gameplay. The gameplay has improved, but it’s just not keeping up.

It’s also easy to forget that our brains just made the gameplay seem more awesome “back in the day” because we weren’t give all the visual stimulus we’re given today. It was easier to make all of those open-ended games when people’s expectations were 320x200 visuals and text screens. Now, they expect super duper 3D worlds filled with the amazing character designs, and to have everything with high-quality VO and professional writing and blah blah blah. You can’t cut corners, you can’t have low production values. If you do, you will get roasted, often by the same people who talk about how games were better “in the good old days.”

And there’s also the message board culture, which rewards us all for being the most jaded or hype-resistant. You’re no longer allowed to really love games anymore, because if you dare mention it, you will be jumped all over, you will be mocked, and your words will continuously be used against you as you become a forum meme.

To use one example in another subforum here, think Rob Merritt, who dared to admit he liked Daredevil. And now, whenever Rob posts anything about a movie, someone inevitably brings up Daredevil. Don’t think that doesn’t have some chilling impact on people writing positively about the cool new games they’re playing. Why bother, when it’ll have a chance of ending up a punchline or you’ll be forced to defend something for days or weeks?


ps: i loooooooooove mercs2! and ace combat too!

that man speaks truth.

anyway, i think, like drugs sex and alcohol, games fare well in a recession. a long drought will starve the crop and thin the herd however, but putting off the next generation of consoles a couple years might not be such a bad thing at all.

also, i LOOOOOOOOOVE mercs2 and ace combat6, two titles that seem to meet with despise and derision on every turn.