Reading the gaming economyShawn Drotar

Posted on December 12th, 2008 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion, Wii, Nintendo DS by Shawn Drotar

In the United Kingdom, financial analysts, while touting the current success of the gaming industry, warn that Nintendo stands the most to lose in this economy, since it assumes that so-called “casual gamers” will simply forgo spending on their hobby since they don’t take it seriously in the first place.

Of course, the gaming world’s long known that a “casual gamer” doesn’t necessarily think that their gaming time is something that they can take or leave; it’s more that they simply prefer different gaming experiences. To wit: Nintendo sold two million Wiis… in November.

$3 billion dollars in gaming sales were rung up in November, with over a million Nintendo DS units sold, 836,000 Xbox 360s and 378,000 PlayStation 3s, and the latter’s sales were considered so “poor” that The Washington Times ludicrously suggested that Sony was sabotaging its own Blu-ray format.

Not all is well, however. Longtime publisher Midway is collapsing, Electronic Arts has had to lay off workers and cancel their plans for a third studio in Vancouver, with their stocks near a seven-year low. The Wall Street Journal even went so far to suggest that Disney should try and purchase the publishing giant, now that’s it’s worth roughly a third what it had been only a few years back. Game studios are closing, and many developers and support personnel are fearing for their jobs. Of course, this doesn’t make them any different than anyone else, sadly…

Some have suggested that gaming is “recession-proof”. That’s ridiculous. But all of a sudden, staying at home with a new video game sounds like a much better deal than filling up the car, going out to dinner and paying $10 a ticket to watch a movie. That may make gaming a more attractive hobby during the lean times, even though it can be expensive, too. It’s clear that people still intend to have fun - probably a healthy attitude during these challenging months - and gaming seems to be the way they intend to have it.

“Recession-proof”? No. “Recession-friendly”? Absolutely. As long as the gaming sector isn’t sinking any faster than everything else, there’s little reason to expect large changes, save a leaner, meaner and more streamlined development world. And if people didn’t have to lose their jobs because of it, this reconfiguration of the industry’s economy might even be considered healthy in some ways.

At the moment, all the gaming industry can do is tighten their belts and focus on doing the very best work they can, knowing that thwy have a wellspring of consumers that will support quality efforts. That, at least, represents something of a silver lining surrounding a very dark cloud.

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