19 July 2017

Video Game's: A history

    Video games might not have been around for a particularly long time, but technology has advanced very rapidly, very aggressively, and a lot has happened since their conception. In this article, I want to discuss some of the history of video game's, putting a little extra focus on two of the more tragic tales of the industry: Nintendo, and EA Games.

    Computers haven't always been capable of running games, in the early days games were only capable of batch processing. You give them an equation, then they freeze until it's over and return the answer. Sure you could make game's with this, there was a chess simulation some university programmed in research, but it wasn't very practical. You'd still be better off just using a chess set. however the invention of RAM, Random Access Memory, which allowed computers to store data while it worked, and allowed for real time processing. This, was what gaming needed to truly become an interactive medium.     With this, people started experimenting with game's, mostly unsuccessfully. The first game to have any sort of influence, was a game you're probably familiar with, Pong. This game sparked the era or arcade game's, more and more were produced, full on arcade's were built, the industry was still taking it's baby steps, but it was a hit.

    As the technology advanced, it got smaller and easier to pack into a home, the Magnavox Odyssey lead the charge as the first home console on the market, however it was quickly taken over by competitor's. Technology was moving fast, too fast to keep track of. It wasn't like today where a console last's nearly a decade, every few months something else was taking the place as best console. And with all that development and progress, came an over saturation of the market.

    What ended up happening, is there was hundred's of different console's each with a couple game's on them, for dirt cheap on the market, and not worth a penny either way. This was absolutely tragic for the industry, it was label'd the video games crash of 1983. The recently booming video game industry, was valued at just over $100 a 97% drop in value from what it was originally worth, Gaming seemed doomed! And to make matter's worse, we didn't have a clue what was going wrong, why all of a sudden our amazing new industry was failing us, so we kept on trying, bringing out more console's, more games for those new consoles, and making the problem worse by the minute. Enter the savior, Nintendo. Nintendo knew how to fix our problem.They made a console, the NES, just like all these other companies, except while all these other companies were trying to focus on the hardware of their console's, nintendo focused instead on the game's. They pushed out a few high quality game's, for people of different demographics, so that the NES would actually by worth buying. People did, the NES was a huge hit globally, people learned from nintendo and most of the console companies died out, those who remained followed that model of fewer consoles and more games.

    So everything's wonderful right? We're out of our recession, the gaming industry isn't borderline bankrupt again, things's should be perfect? Well, not quite. There were still a fair few issues that needed to be iron'd out before hand, almost all of them revolving around publishers. So the only way to get games onto a console were to have the console approve them and out them on your console. They didn't have the time or mean's to do that for literally everyone, so they entrusted publishers to represent their best interest's. Now these publisher's had way too much power and control, even more than they do now (and that's saying something.) they all treated their employee's like shit, no right's, no union's, you didn't like it, you got sacked. Eventually, everyone had had just about enough of it all, so when Trip Hawkins, founder of EA games offered them great salaries and contracts, getting things like credit in game. They lept at the opportunity! For a time, everything worth playing, was published by them, and all the other companies had to follow zuit else they lose their dev's! One thing that will stick with me, when they were deciding on the name, they started with Electronic Artist's, but Trip didn't like that name. He said "We're not the artist's, they are..." talking about the developer's under them. The packaging he used, the classic square case you use for music, were also EA's idea, because they wanted their developers to be portrayed as rockstar's.

    Unfortunately, this prosperity wasn't to last. just under a decade and a half later, EA's CEO left and his replacement ran it into the penny grabbing pit of dodgy business practice's we know today, charging $100 for a full game through DLC and Microtransactions. Of course because EA could get away with it, everyone else could take that as there cue to follow suit and start treating their employee's with no respect, after they done so much to fix that problem already. We gave nintendo so much forgiveness when they were building their brand because of the good Nintendo America and some of Japan was doing, but with them it's 1 step forward 2 steps back. Embracing their community, then DMCA striking youtubers. Providing merchandise for cheap, then destroying fan games. It's terrible seeing these iconic figure's who saved gaming in their own right's, turn around and rule over it with an iron fist. Looking forward, EA seems to have found it's roots again and is starting to treat their developers and customers right, and Nintendo America has been trying to resolve the issues with Nintendo for quite a while now. All we can hope, is that it's enough to get us back on the right track.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the history of Nintendo and EA, I didn't realize that when Nintendo started out that there were tons of consoles, and it's very interesting, b/c it's now an obvious rule that it's games that sell consoles, whereas before, I didn't realize that there wasn't emphasis on games. It's also very sad that EA was a great company to work for, but went downhill. However, it's good to see they're changing.

    It appears that a lot of companies, once they reach success, they rest on their laurels, and start to take things for granted, like PS2 being so successful, and then Sony arrogantly thinking that people will pay a ridiculous price for the PS3, but they turned things around.

    I think EA and Sony ARE changing, and realizing they can't take their consumers for granted, but I don't think Nintendo is reforming or changing in any meaningful way. I'm not sure how the Switch will turn out--on the one hand, I think it won't succeed b/c of the lack of 3rd party games, but on the other hand, it might do well if it takes over 3DS. But I feel that if Switch fails, then Nintendo will completely reverse course, allowing free fan-made games, streaming YouTube without restriction, having real apps, online presence and so forth.

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    1. EA for sure are, I actually have a little conspiracy theory, that EA purposely under developed Starwar's: Battlefront EA so when they fixed a bunch of the problem's in the sequel they can turn around and say "We've been listening to your feedback." (interestingly when they announced the game at E3, they actually said that.) Alongside Titanfall 2 DLC being free, announcing Need for Speeds return to it's roots and a few new interesting IP's, it feels like they're trying to reform the company back to what it once was, something I'm hella excited about.

      Nintendo is a weird one, the head's of the company are truly some of the best faces in games right now, Shigeru Miyamoto is a games developer at heart, he's been doing games development before the Nintendo Entertainment System, when the company started arcade games with Donkey Kong. Satoru Iwata (R.I.P.) was the same, yet despite having people like this at the helm, they still make all these questionable decision's you mentioned. There's a lot that goes on behind the scene's, often time's investor's and publishers will push you into a corner and force you to make some bad moves, potentially reputation destroying moves. A recent example would be how Starbreeze manipulated Overkill's game Payday 2 to near ruin, when Starbreeze abandon'd their shipwreck, overkill could piece together what was left of the game and damage control, but they already lost a significant portion of their player base. I feel Nintendo will be in a similar situation, or at least I hope that's the case. You know the saying, never meet your heroes, you might be disappointed.

      -CheesusAlmighty

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    2. That's very interesting about EA! It's pretty sleazy, and reminds me of one of my classmates who purposely did REALLY bad at the start of his rotation, and then made an effort at the end, so everyone's impressed with him, and gives him an A. I know a lot of people and companies become successful through dishonesty and manipulative practices, but I think in the long run, it hurts the business. I think that's why EA has to change course.

      I agree, that often managers and executives tell game developers what to do so they can't live up to their vision, like Scalebound. I know that Miyamoto is a genius but he doesn't sound fan-friendly, given his past remarks about fans being pathetic for wanting to be entertained, hello? you're job IS to entertain, otherwise they'll go somewhere else. so I totally agree about the sentiment about being disappointed meeting your heroes.

      I see Nintendo falling into the same problem as Starbreeze, as they really DO seem to despise their fans, preferring to chase the elusive General Public, who all abandoned Nintendo after the Wii, for smartphone games. It's very foolish to bite the hand that feeds you, and I think they lost a lot of fans, including me (I'm one of the few who owns the Wii U), by being so anti-consumerist.

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