Society & Culture & Entertainment Games

Gaming Industry Issues

Back in the early 90s, when Wolfenstein 3D arrived on four 3.
5" floppy disks (even a CD version was available, for those having such a technical wonder of those days inside their computers), requiring at least a 80286 CPU and 640 kB of memory, who would have imagined how far would things go in less than two decades? From a few releases per month, the gaming industry became a giant with hundreds of games released every month, maybe even thousands, if we add the mobile platforms in the equation.
Unfortunately, this multi-million dollars industry has a lot of problems, most of them common to the entire media industry, as we're going to see right away...
One of the first issues that appeared was censorship, since Wolfenstein 3D had content currently banned in Germany and most other countries (you have to know what I am talking about here!), and the consequence was that the game has been pulled back from the market to be modified.
This went as far as removing Hitler's moustache in the Super NES version of the game, and I think it says it all! After a few years, as 3D accelerators started to become popular, a new challenge for the computer gaming industry appeared - hardware compatibility, and this hasn't been completely solved until the present day.
First, there were the games capable of running in 2D and 3D modes, then there were DirectX and Glide ones(remember 3dfx?), and now we have DirectX games that tend to be better optimized for NVIDIA or ATI, but only in a few cases for both.
More recently, censorship started to push games from various markets because their players became criminals and blamed the game.
For example, a guy killed and robbed a taxi driver in Thailand, just to see if it was that easy as in the game.
I know, I know...
you must be a bit off the track to do such a thing, but the authorities decided it was GTA 4's fault, and started taking measures to remove it from all stores.
I know there may be some things I am missing, but the last issue I have in mind today doesn't have anything to do with the move from retail to digital content distribution, hacks, in-game spammers or piracy.
I know, piracy is a really bad problem in some areas, but what about developers aging and shifting their focus? From what I know, none of the big guys decided to pull out from the industry and take care of the kids, but I happen to be aware of a few former game programmers who decided to switch to programming applications or simply a different field, like photography or real estate, because it's a less demanding work, especially since they always loved to be the first ones to test their games from dusk till dawn...
but the problem with the big guys in the industry is that, at some point, they end up being unhappy with some of their recent projects, and decide to go away.
Just imagine how hard could be for a gaming company to lose a key person who was there for the last decade, or sometimes even longer! If you can't imagine, just try to read about Funcom in trouble and you will get a better picture of the situation.
The gaming industry, despite of being a unique blend of arts, technology, and marketing, is going through a very interesting period.
Some will call it a hard time, I only call it the suffering before its rebirth.
When and how is this going to happen, that's what remains to be seen...

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