Next-gen consoles and the Wii U are just the start of the decline
I love video games, I play them every day and read and write about them for more than half my waking hours and during recent months a feeling of doom is starting to creep around the edges of my consciousness.I am not an industry analyst and I lack access to private data from the big publishers or hardware makers, but basic economics tells us that an industry which has seen a decline for every month of this year when compared to the same period in 2011 on the United States market cannot be doing too well.
Unfortunately, no similar big data set exists for the various European markets, but United Kingdom sales have also gone down and Japan has not brought on brighter news for local companies like Sony or Nintendo.
The United States decline continued even as Sony launched the new PlayStation Vita handheld, which failed to gain any sort of real traction, and even after Nintendo delivered the Wii U, no upward trend was clearly noticeable.
This is an already grim picture, but there are also issues on the software side, where a number of studios laid off people and closed down before being able to complete their projects.
Sony and Microsoft also seem unsure about their next generation of devices, possibly because they are spooked by the limited success of other hardware launches.
Sure, the PC is doing better than ever and Steam has managed to co-exist with the likes of Green Man Gaming, GamersGate and even Origins and UPlay.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are also performing well, mainly because developers are able to create very solid experiences for the hardware and because they are very cheap at the moment.
But while the present might be satisfactory, the future is scary because, with the public and shareholders clamoring for new consoles and new franchises to go with them, one year from now we might be talking about the failure of an entire generation of gaming.