Jump to content
Keatah

Computers and the videogame crash of the 80's.

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, potatohead said:

Zoomers are particularly impacted right now and things like Covid aren't helping.  (Let's not go political.  Those are just socio economic realities in play right now that do affect gaming.)

This is said about every generation in its youth.  It was said about my parents', then mine, then the following.  The reality is that young people are generally not good at money management and do not get so until their late 20s or early 30th.  This happens every generation.  I actually know a couple of "Zoomers" (a colloquial but not yet-accepted name for Generation Z) who are doing just fine because they learned early to make good money decisions, as well as education decisions.  One apprenticed in a construction trade with no college, an industry which has continued to run.  The other went to college and right after graduation went into a services career, during which he put together a large enough savings to allow a move to an area which is not under a complete shut-down.  My two friends are not, however, representative of any generation at that age.

 

I have a dizzying amount of studies, articles, and a number of books regarding the subject and I tried to teach my own based upon my experiences and the information presented (vicarious experience for them.)  But, as once with myself, childrens' rampant enthusiasm and idealism presents a more exciting and fun lifestyle than the traditions, reservation, caution, and experiences of their parents.

 

The only political issue about this socioeconomic reality is the application of the idea that your bad decisions are not your own.  When scored and plotted, the rough statistical break-down for each generation in the United States looks like a bell-curve: big lump in the middle for various bad, poor, or decisions of varying risk, leading and trailing edges of outside factors such as job loss, economic depression (regional, industry, national, &c.,) crime (theft, embezzlement, scam, &c., mostly white-collar,) and illness or health issues ranking the highest of those.  By the way, poor decisions are not endemic to the young as these behaviors tend to return in elder years.

 

Now, what exactly are the demographics for these pay-to-play mobile games?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, potatohead said:

And then when one multiplies potential profit against risk*competing products?  It's dismal, unless one has a new niche, or social media type viral boost help, or a legit home run.

 

I know some pro game dev guys who have put serious effort into mobile several times.  There is an initial flurry of downloads, and some percentage of those buy, or pay to play.  Most don't, or will on occasion.  After that initial, "hey it's new, try it" bump, everything after that is a long grind with diminishing returns.  

 

Because of this, it makes a lot more sense to develop multiple more shallow apps, get very broad appeal, make them sexy and addictive, tie in to some pop culture where possible, and build an income off the long tail of casual players willing to view an AD, or pay to play.  Wash, rinse, repeat for every small revenue boost, and wash again when someone else clones your stuff, and again as it all kind of fades...

 

The product of that today is a free sea of shitty games with some real gems mixed in there.  Many people are looking to play what their friends play too, because sorting through it, or not having a shared experience isn't worth it.  This all favors established players and those who have social media / culture tie-ins.  

 

And here in the USA a surprising number of people are mobile only, maybe console too, and if they have a console, it's an older one, types.  Numbers on that are growing as basically flat wages up against diminishing higher wage jobs get backfilled with minimal wage type jobs.  Zoomers are particularly impacted right now and things like Covid aren't helping.  (Let's not go political.  Those are just socio economic realities in play right now that do affect gaming.)

 

Mobile is cheap ass when one looks at overall spends for a month, and the phone is multi-purpose.  An increasing number of people in my circle get whatever high data, unlimited plan they can find, and use their mobile for basically everything.  Attach it to the TV for viewing, game on it where ever, do Internet, pay bills, stay in touch on social media, the whole nine.  

 

Mobile is a damn tough place to make a living right now, unless one has some cred, or other tie in as I mentioned above.  

100% - here is a story that proves your point:  https://www.gdcvault.com/play/1025766/1-500-Slot-Machines-Walk

 

Those guys tried very hard to release a high quality mobile title and no one bit.  So, on a whim they created a system that would auto-generate terrible slot machines every day.  The story was surprising to me, but fits with your point perfectly.

 

Same story different format: https://www.gameinformer.com/2019/10/10/how-two-developers-made-a-living-with-awful-games

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

The reality is

Very highly debatable.  I don't do that here.  Reasons.   Good ones.  Consider doing the same.

 

Now, moving back to the topic at hand.

 

Demographics?  All over the place.

 

Candy Crush and similar casual gaming is high percentage across the board.  More complex gaming trends younger, bigger percentages under 35.

 

Here's another reality:  For the vast majority of people, monthly entertainment dollars are largely fixed.  For many, it can vary some, but overall does not swing by huge amounts.  Larger purchases tend to be tradeoffs.  Buy a new game, skip a movie, etc...

 

**This is also why infringement and second sale remains a thing in all forms.  Password sharing, torrents, media swapping, used media.

 

Many can't/won't pay, but mindshare and friend to friend recs and shared experiences have real value.  Not judging here.  Right, wrong, don't care.  Just stating real dynamics related to mobile and entertainment in general.

 

Dropbox did for movies what mobile does for gaming.  Both are pulling revenue into entertainment, and competing with what I just call mooching to make it easy.

 

Remember "fits on a credit card" for sales?

 

Think, "trade for a Rockstar or Latte" and it plays out the same.

 

The various forms of entertainment compete.  Ask any cord cutter.  I am one, and make different entertainment choices today than I did with a typical cable TV bill 

 

Pay to play can nudge those dollars upward as small amounts can mean tradeoffs easily made, done and lived with.  Say blow a little on a game, skip that energy drink...  low friction purchases, small ones, bend overall entertainment dollars up.  Mobile is a legit net gain where gaming competes dollars away from other things rather than just moving share around.  (Who gets how much of what there is to get)

 

The entertainment dollars get spent each month too.

 

Work hours are trending upward too. 

 

Fitting entertainment in works great on mobile.  For every younger gamer dropping for spiffs on mobile, you can find working professionals doing the same thing!  They have very similar reasons despite being in different places socioeconomically.

 

Trends higher under 45, much, much higher under 30.

 

 

Edited by potatohead

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, wongojack said:

100% - here is a story

Right?  That is an amazing example!

 

I have many in my life under 35.  Part of my particular work niche right now.  And it's cool.  Though I am the old guy, I get a lot of help being relevant.  Got younger blood to hang with and its fun.

 

Until Covid, I did a few years of travel.  All over the US and abroad a time or two.  

 

Most of it being business, I could find a coffee shop, bar, club, whatever, show up and just talk to people.  Really got a lot out of it frankly.

 

Now I don't miss it one bit.  That kind of thing is high value, but is also a grind.  Ugh.

 

But, I am glad to have gotten a nice sample of things across a broad demographic.  Boomers to boomers, low and upper percenters, pros, working joe bag of doughnuts.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is skirting dangerously close to politics-- but still needs stating.

 

The "Wages have not grown in proportion to productivity or with inflation for 50+ years" thing is starting to actually have fangs instead of small nagging nibbles it's had in the past.  Alarming numbers of people cannot endure the loss of a single paycheck without risking a debt spiral that ends in their being impoverished.

 

 

Is it really... Sensible?... to be in a business that believes people can make flippant financial decisions about entertainment, when the above is true?

 

I would think not.

 

Yet, there you have it-- with the entertainment industries of the world in abject denial of this reality, focusing instead on their own personal realities-- that the costs of producing modern content are high, and mandating high prices.  The lack of sales is attributed to any number of things (Piracy, et al-- despite the clear data that Netflix provided about pricepoints) except what really needs to be accepted--- People do not have sufficient disposable income (in aggregate), to support a large entertainment industry with large AAA properties being produced.

 

The content that is popular is the "Free* content", no matter how shitty. (as evidenced by the presentation).  People still want entertainment, but they cannot justify the 60+$ pricepoint for a AAA title, or the 5 to 10$ pricepoint for mobile, without some very serious value being offered.  This is why these industries are suffering so bad.

 

 

I would personally say that unless the generating situation is changed, and soon, then the handwriting is on the wall for paid content, in any form.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, potatohead said:

Very highly debatable.  I don't do that here.  Reasons.   Good ones.  Consider doing the same.

You started it, I am quoting statistics and research.  Perhaps if you think others should consider not entering into a debate, you might consider not issuing drive-by proclamations while expecting others to just shut up and not challenge.  It only works that way on Twitter with "x is truth, I will not debate this" statements.

 

5 hours ago, wierd_w said:

Is it really... Sensible?... to be in a business that believes people can make flippant financial decisions about entertainment, when the above is true?

I find it just a little teensy bit predatory, nothing more than a digital version of lotteries and gambling.  Social media is designed the same way, to give people the little tiny rushes, not enough to sate but still enough to hook so users go for the next "hit."

 

Micro-transactions, or whatever they want to call them today, are the tiny pin-pricks that bleed people out.  It is not a long-term sustainable practice, at least not in its current incarnation.  Downloadable content can be great for non-multiplayer games -- I think of things like Sonic and Knuckles which for $50 or so made changes to the original games.  But if you go too far, some amount of people are going to ask why they keep shelling out $50 here and there for the same game.  In a multi-player environment, buying weapons or character stats puts people with deeper pockets into a position over others, which is discouraging.  There is no reward for achievement or dedication and people will give up.

 

There was a study not too long ago in which researchers determined that rats are ticklish.  This made news around the world, but the more important part of the study went largely ignored, that rats have a play mechanism which is essential to their social development.  Smaller rats will challenge larger rats to play, but if the smaller rat cannot "win" around 25% of the challenges it will stop challenging.  This can be applied across a large swath of life on the planet, including humans.  The desire to participate in an activity is diminished which each loss or failure, or lack of suitable reward at the end.

 

As mentioned above, the beauty of our "retro" games is they were easy to learn but difficult to master.  This meant that if someone spent the time they were more likely to proceed further, thus a reward for their effort, until the likely defeat of the game and the final sense of accomplishment.  On the same token, this is also why players decry games with shitty endings -- you mean I invested x hours (or days) into this game to get this garbage?

 

If someone can buy their way through a game, the reward is diminished and the innate sense of accomplishment can be stymied (or at least diminished, again not satisfying the need.)  Playing against someone who has bought their ranking rather than won it makes them less enthusiastic about play as the balance of winning is tilted away from them, and they will choose another activity.

 

These results are repeatable across activities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The phenomenon that drives the demand for "Pay to win" coincides with the "Wages too low; People working side jobs for basic quality of living and barely getting by" problem;

 

If you are working that side job, that is the time you would have previously invested in "Getting Gud", but you still want entertainment. You crave the chance to win, even if you lack the skill to do so--- Enter the microtransaction-- "Hey-- If you pay me 5$, I will help you WIN!".  Most people do not do rational calculations about their time's value, and so do not make a proper calculus.  They know they have an innate need to have social entertainment, the mobile device platform can be used discretely on the side job when the boss is not looking, and that 5$ lets them WIN, and scratch that psychological itch. So they do it. (And since that is where the new money is, because of this actual reality, that is what every damn publisher does now.)

 

However, it discourages anyone who actually would otherwise have engaged with the game to Get Gud, because there is no high from success, as you rightly point out.

 

In all cases, the correct solution is for employers to pay actually living wages, instead of trying every bit of chicanery they can to "BOOST SALES!!" and "MAKE THIS QUARTER BETTER THAN THE LAST, NO MATTER WHAT!!".  You can only trim fat until there is no fat left.  Pretending that there is always fat, is how you end up with a skeletal economy, which we are on the verge of having.  An economy only exists when money is changing hands in exchange for goods and services.  When all that money is tied up in stock options, buyback programs, overseas bank accounts, and golden parachutes, the economy withers and dies. 

 

You would think that people who profess an insatiable love of the market would comprehend how this tragedy unfolds, and be loud proponents of ensuring high levels of common liquidity, such that the economy is strong and healthy, but that does not seem to be the case in practice.  In practice, the bottom line is all about hoarding as much currency as possible to attract the investor class, and the wider economy be damned-- OR-- to ignore the situation of the economy, and go through the "bargaining" stage of denial about the problem. (EG, "We can keep going as we have been, if we just buckle down, cut every expense to the bone, and weather it out", or in the case of Hollywood "If we JUST increase the length of copyright another 100 years, we can milk the long tail and make up for it in the future, even though all our metrics say otherwise!!", and "We gotta lobby for even more draconian DRM protections to stop those evil pirates that are clearly undercutting our sales, regardless of what Netflix's data says!") rather than go to the acceptance stage of grief, and honestly admit to themselves "We cannot continue to pour all of our financials into

AAA titles, because the economy cannot support it, because people do not have sufficient disposable income to support that kind of business model."

 

People do not have the money, or the time (because they traded the time to get the bare minimum of money to survive, because of how pronounced the problem is), to consume that content legitimately, at the pricepoints demanded.  That is the hard reality.

 

We either fix that as a society (globally), or we watch the content industry die on the vine, and get despotic copyright laws as it tries desperately to survive through denial in the process.

 

That's all the further down the politics hole I want to go.  Since it relates intimately with modern gaming is the only reason I am bringing it up here.  You do in fact have to address the elephant in the room, since it is parked on top of the game controller, and is blocking the TV. :)

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "pay to win" model is not really present in the majority of non-casual titles on consoles and PCs. Sure, they're full of assorted microtransactions but these are mostly for vanity items.

 

I aslo don't share the view that the videogame (or media entertainment in general) industry is in any way endangered. To the contrary: it's never been worth as much as it is now. That of course won't stop various figures decrying how piracy and economy crunch are killing them, but that's the same old hogwash we've been hearing since the beginning of it all.

 

Even in tough times like 2020's has been serving up, escapism is a prime market. It's enough to look at crazy Switch prices (driven by demand!), PS5 preorders insta-selling out and so on. Sure, for some folks buying a full price game is an impossible task, but there are countless others who still can afford that, and also other ways of legally obtaining them such as sales or subscription models.

 

That's not to say I'm happy with the current status quo, my biggest ire being the near-complete eradication of the second hand market (at least on PC), and the general lack of ownership and right to resell, things that used to help folks with limited media budget. So the entire industry gets zero sympathy from me for any of their actual woes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The issue is with the trend curves of both models.

 

EG--

 

Model 1)

Workers get appropriate pay, and retain their free time, and thus have a motivation to spend that money, resulting in more total sales, and thus a higher overall market cap to capitalize on

 

 

and

 

Model 2)

Workers are overworked, because all employers are slavishly trying to satisfy the parasitic demands of the investor and banker classes, which reduces their ability to consume media, at both ends, forcing employers who remain in the market to have to resort to hyper abusive marketing strategies (such as adiction based behavioral models), to drive sufficient sales to keep the lights on, while simultaneously promoting the problem through requiring their workers to work Seattle 120s or higher numbers of hours.

 

 

For the same expenditures (including wages), there is more market to be gained in model 1, than there is in Model 2.  However, because of the slavish devotion to the investor and banker classes, model 2 gets the most traction. (It's basically Prisoner's Dilemma, Economics edition.)

 

You COULD solve it by regulating industry, and legislating appropriate minimum wages (and thus force employers to make the "best" decision, which is against their own short-term goals), but then we get into politics, and is topica non-grata.

 

:)

 

The issue is that model 2 is unstable.  In order for producers to continue seeing growth of their businesses, they have to continue to demand more hours for less pay out of their employees, while basically blackmailing people to use their products at increasingly (comparatively) extortionate pricepoints.  There are only so many physical hours a human is able to work before they start dying. (see Japan.)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

You started it, I am quoting statistics and research.  Perhaps if you think others should consider not entering into a debate, you might consider not issuing drive-by proclamations while expecting others to just shut up and not challenge.  It only works that way on Twitter with "x is truth, I will not debate this" statements.

Of course it works that way.  I am not going to debate objective realities with you.  That's silly.

 

What I did was state facts and connect them to some current trends.  I did not make judgements about people or policy.  Just our current state, who is impacted, what that might mean related to gaming and mobile.

 

That judgement part was all you, and the thing I suggested you might consider not doing.  Debating your judgements related to those facts is the silly part, just for those following along at home.

 

Clearly you have some need to challenge objective reality.  I don't.

 

Twitter, no twitter, all the same.  You do you boo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No worries here.  The storm will pass.  That is the only response from me on that mess anyone will see.

 

Edited by potatohead
  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, youxia said:

The "pay to win" model is not really present in the majority of non-casual titles on consoles and PCs. Sure, they're full of assorted microtransactions but these are mostly for vanity items.

 

I aslo don't share the view that the videogame (or media entertainment in general) industry is in any way endangered. To the contrary: it's never been worth as much as it is now. That of course won't stop various figures decrying how piracy and economy crunch are killing them, but that's the same old hogwash we've been hearing since the beginning of it all.

 

Even in tough times like 2020's has been serving up, escapism is a prime market. It's enough to look at crazy Switch prices (driven by demand!), PS5 preorders insta-selling out and so on. Sure, for some folks buying a full price game is an impossible task, but there are countless others who still can afford that, and also other ways of legally obtaining them such as sales or subscription models.

Videogames do seem to be a 'counter-cyclical' form of entertainment.   Much cheaper than going to a sports game, or Broadway show, even going to the movies if you take a family and buy food.

 

If you look back at the crash of the 80s, the videogame market thrived 81-82 which coincided with a nasty recession.  It crashed 83-85 which were years that the economy was in recovery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

This is said about every generation in its youth.  It was said about my parents', then mine, then the following.  The reality is that young people are generally not good at money management and do not get so until their late 20s or early 30th.  This happens every generation.

It's funny how people forget what they were like when they were kids!   

I remember how people didn't have much hope for my generation (gen x).   How many of my peers seemed irresponsible and "slackers".   What's shocking is you run into them now and they are responsible pillars of their community.  Funny how that works.

 

Myself, I was rather reckless with money until I moved out on my own and got married.   I didn't like feeling poor so I cracked down and got things in order.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, zzip said:

Videogames do seem to be a 'counter-cyclical' form of entertainment.   Much cheaper than going to a sports game, or Broadway show, even going to the movies if you take a family and buy food.

 

If you look back at the crash of the 80s, the videogame market thrived 81-82 which coincided with a nasty recession.  It crashed 83-85 which were years that the economy was in recovery.

Interesting observation. 

 

In my circles, gaming does go up when times get lean.  

 

And we have Covid right now too.

 

Bonus!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2020 at 4:43 PM, elmer said:

 

I'm not quite sure how you can say that the CPC was "never used to ithe full potential" in the UK, and then list five games that "showed what it was capable of" that were all developed in the UK! ;)

 

The Amstrad was a lovely machine to program for ... the problem with getting too many Spectrum ports (especially early on, 1984-1986) was because the game publishers often contracted small teams, or even single programmers, to develop both Spectrum and Amstrad versions of a game, and gave them neither the budget nor the development time to take advantage of the Amstrad's capabilities.

 

That was less of a problem later on (1987+) when the Amstrad market was large enough for the big publishers to justify enough time/budget to create Amstrad-specific versions of games.

 

The CPC's biggest problems from a game development standpoint were the lack of pixel, or at-least byte, horizontal scrolling, and the overall lack of memory (because games were targeted at the base 64KB machine, since that was approx 2/3 or the overall sales).

Because I could only name 5 games off the top of me head where i had seen the machine deliver something as a C64 owner at the time, that made me envious of the platform, is probably the best answer i can give. 

 

 

5 titles for a platform with the commercial lifespan the CPC had, for myself speaks volumes and of those 5?

 

 

The C64 conversion of Chase HQ was simply bloody awful. 

 

Titles like Turbocharge, Chase HQ II, Powerdrift, Turbo Outrun etc showcases what could of been done. 

 

Battle Command with it's solid 3D showed how Starglider code of worked, if put out on cartridge. 

 

If the C64 versions of games i praised on the CPC, Barb aside, had been handled better, I would of been scratching to come up with real standout CPC titles that made me look at it in a new light. 

 

 

Since then thanks to the Homebrew community, we've seen how CPC R-Type could of been. 

 

 

The machine had the potential to be so much more, yet was treated as a ZX SPECTRUM port platform far too often and ended up with a reputation I now feel it didn't deserve. 

 

But any platform is only as good as the software developed for it. 

Edited by Lost Dragon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, potatohead said:

Fart smellers or smart fellers?

Just a bit of self deprecating humor.  Myself included.

 

Carry on please.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/17/2020 at 10:58 PM, elmer said:

The Coleco Adam comes the closest ... but since it was just a retread of the 1982's ColecoVision, with its 1979 graphics chip, and based on the same Texas Instruments reference design that gave us the Spectravideo, the Tatung Einstein, the Memotech MTX, and the original MSX1 ... it hardly counts as either uniquely interesting, or as a technical upgrade.

 

The Commodore 128 in 1985 offered far too few improvements to be worth discussing, and while the CoCo3 was a lovely upgrade to the Coco2 in 1986, it was still too-little, too-late.

 

 

 

I must disagree with this.  I have a ColecoVision and a Coleco ADAM - the same ones my family had when I was a kid - and a Commodore 128, which I always kind of wanted as a kid but I only ever had, in my youth, a Commodore 64, and even that I got VERY late in the game (I started using Commodores at a summer camp I went to, got really into it when I broke my arm in the summer of 1992, and finally got my own machine in 1993).  The thing is I never thought of my Commodore, which I loved, as primarily a "games" machine.  I wanted to, and did, use it as a computer.  I certainly programmed on it, and I did play some games, but I also used GEOS as a Word processor.  It was my computer, not my gaming machine.

 

What kicked me off into the "retro" scene was that, in 2004, after having put the C64 away when I got a Pentium for college in December 1996, I bought a Commodore 128 set up from eBay.  And let me tell you: the Commodore 128 is what I always hoped as a kid the 64 could be.  Because of the fact that it emulated the 64 nearly perfect, it is true that it did not attract a lot of independent software development for its "native" 128 mode.  In this sense, it did not offer a huge upgrade.  

 

But if you were interested in serious programming, its included BASIC 7 was light years ahead of the 64's BASIC 2, it came with a built-in ML monitor which the 64 did not have, and it ran in 80 columns, which made GEOS in particular and word processing and spreadsheet work generically truly feasible things to do on it.  It was, in other words, a HUGE upgrade over the 64 - but not as a games machine, instead as a computer.

 

And although the 128 for some reason frequently gets dumped on - even by Commodore enthusiasts - it in fact was a reasonably good seller for the company.  Introduced in 1985, and discontinued by 1989, it sold, I think, around 4 million units in its own right - which makes it one of the best performing 8 bit computers in terms of sales after its predecessor, the Commodore 64.  For example, I believe the 128 in its own right outsold the entire Atari 8 bit line of computers.

 

In short, the Commodore 128 was a fine success, and superior to the Coleco ADAM in every imaginable way.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, Commodore supposedly sold around 7 million C128s, so it's one of the top selling 8 bits of all time.
The CoCo 3 has a lot of software that doesn't run on the original CoCo, and it was on the market for 5 years. 
The 8 bit market lasted around 15 years, so the CoCo 3 was on the market a full 1/3 of that time.
With both of these machines, I think a lot of the unique software was more on the business side of things rather than games.

The ADAM, is an interesting design mess. 
The high speed serial buss (ADAM NET) and the fast tape drive had potential, but the machine was just too expensive to produce, and too buggy to be competitive.
The MSX was fairly successful using the same graphics, so it's not like the ADAM didn't have a chance.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...