Readers consider what they’d do if Microsoft and other large corporations were able to force out or acquire Nintendo and Sony.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Cranston and obviously inspired by the concerns surrounding Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which many fear will leave Sony and Nintendo unable to respond – simply because they’re smaller companies.
Opinions were divided as to how apocalyptic the situation is though, with half wanting to believe that gaming would continue largely as it is, but others worried that big business will slowly erode away its pleasures.
Quite frankly, yes, I would give up gaming if Sony and Nintendo were no longer involved. I’m sure I’d play the odd indie game here and there, ideally on my phone, but without the two most important companies it’d be like ripping the heart out of the whole industry. I mean, without Nintendo who would Microsoft and whatever’s left (not much by the sound of it) copy?
The reason Microsoft is having to make all these massive purchases is because they have realised, far too late, that the core of a console manufacturer is not the hardware but the exclusives. The first party games they make set the tone, and the technical standards, for the whole format and without that you’re just left with soulless, personality-free tech, like the PC.
The Xbox has Halo and Gears Of War and that’s pretty much all in terms of headliners, and both those franchises are well past their sell by date, if you ask me. So from a business point of view, I can absolutely understand buying up companies like Activision Blizzard. But as has already been pointed out this only encourages a bidding war from other giant companies like Facebook and Netflix, ones that have even less interest in games than Microsoft, and even less soul.
The idea of a games industry dominated by Xbox upsets me very much because it would almost certainly mean the marginalisation of the Japanese games industry, as has already been predicted. Even worst would be companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix getting involved. Companies that have no interest in just making games but using them as a platform to log people’s personal information, upsell them NFTs, and shower them with advertising.
Xbox are bad enough, with their creepy corporate attitude, but these others… yes, I believe I probably would ‘give up’ on gaming, at least in the sense that I would probably lose interest and not want to buy any new consoles. Although with cloud gaming coming up, pushed by Xbox, maybe it won’t be that easy to escape in the future.
Would I be interested if it was just Microsoft? Simple answer is no. The good thing about competition is it brings prices down. Could you imagine how much prices would go up? Gaming isn’t cheap now, could you imagine how much prices would be if it was just one company that did gaming? Even if it was just Sony I’d stop gaming, they could charge whatever they like.
Competition rules are there for a reason and it’s to protect the customer. Sony’s put their games up to £70, what would the price be if Microsoft pulled out of gaming? It would be the same if it was just Microsoft, Game Pass would double or triple in price. A gamer needs two companies to keep prices under control and if one pulls out gaming is history.
Given I was gaming on an Amstrad and then an Amiga a fair while before Sony had hit the scene, and that Nintendo’s relatively low rate of output has only ever meant that they are a second console for me, it seems very obvious that I would continue to happily play games even in their absence. I own a PlayStation 5 (and PC and Switch), but presumably the millions of PC, Quest, and Xbox gamers would also be fine.
I don’t hunger for a single format, but equally I see gaming as something that is almost impossible to monopolise. Even if Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo dominated, there would be enough space in the market for new entrants at a variety of levels (developers, publishers, console manufacturers), and even the threat of that would keep any single format on its toes.
The closest we have to this is probably Steam on the PC, which is not an issue. Microsoft isn’t close to gaining a console monopoly, and even if they did somehow, I don’t see it as sustainable in even the medium term. You can buy the IP, but you can’t buy the people who work for that company for any length of time.
Probably the worst outcome is that some of the companies will fragment under new ownership (or that IPs will be bought by new entrants like Facebook, that then create white elephant consoles).
This means that the old IPs might be of an increasingly lower quality (and on a specific console), but then the upside is that there will likely be fresh new studios created by the hemorrhaged staff creating brand new IPs. Mostly it’s going to mean no fundamental change. Don’t panic!
Matt (he_who_runs_away – PSN ID)
Come and go
I’ve been gaming a long time, certainly longer than Sony have been making consoles and longer than Nintendo where really even considered ‘a thing’ in Europe. In the 80s, when NES was huge in the US and Japan, it was far more niche in the UK, with far more people gaming on Spectrum or C64. So I’ve seen a lot of formats come and go.
Binatone gaming system with variations of Pong? Yup, Spectrum? Yup, Amiga? Yup. Remember Atari? They used to be the daddy… then Sega…
I’ve never prescribed to one format. I’ve owned Nintendo and Sony devices (ironically as a PC gamer, so kind of wired into Microsoft’s ecosystem, never an Xbox).
I guess what I’m saying is, companies come and companies go. If you’d said to someone in the 80s that Atari would be consigned to history and that Sony would be the masters of gaming they would think you were crazy! In the early 90s who would have thought Sega would be a publisher who had to team up with Nintendo, their greatest competition, just to survive!
So, if Sony or Nintendo ever left would I give up gaming? Of course not! That would have been like me giving up gaming when Sinclair were bought out by Amstrad, or the Amiga was left behind and Commodore no longer became a force.
Gaming is constantly changing and evolving, really it’s still a young medium (I’m pretty sure film saw lots of change, innovation and changes of dominance in its first 50 years too).
We currently have AAA games that recreate entire cities, racing games that accurately reflect physics, where you can drive real life, laser scanned tracks. We have a flight sim where you can fly around the whole world!
We have a thriving, innovative indie scene.
I think things are good, and honestly? I think whatever happens, games will only get better.
Don’t worry, don’t bother with allegiances to any one company, just enjoy the ride.
Oh, and whatever you game on, have fun y’all!
The Dude Abides
As a PC gamer I couldn’t care in the slightest if Sony and Nintendo left the business. As far as I can remember Nintendo has never released a game on PC and Sony had only started recently so neither of them would be missed.
Were they to disappear, all the would happen is some other company would replace them in the same way that Atari and Sega were replaced. No big deal.
GC: What a strange attitude.
Indie safety net
The games industry, in my eyes, has always been dominated by the big gaming companies and thanks to that the indie games industry has come on in leaps and bounds. And that’s where I’ll be if games sour me from these huge takeovers and nothing magical or exciting comes from them.
We are used to takeovers and some good times have been had. But would I mind if the consoles I play on are from different companies or the games are from big gaming profit driven developers? The easy answer is will I still enjoy what they produce? If I do then great and if I don’t, then I may just keep it simple and, as I said above, stay and just support the smaller indie developers only.
The actual games are what keeps me going, and if that is lost then it’s game over for one of my favourite hobbies! But I can’t believe that it will go down that way. If I was a gamer who did not know much about the gaming news and corporate world, and innocently just bought games based on their quality, then whatever the background drama was would not matter and life carries on.
I am obviously concerned but it’s really out of my hands. You would think big businesses would understand that if the quality stops and the sales reduce, then it’s something which would hopefully be acted upon! But right now it’s just too early to know for sure and time, as always, will be the great revealer.
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