Figures show that the market of videogames is holding its breath. Two culminating factors: an economic crisis and the end of a cycle of the “ next-gen” or new generation consoles, seems to have had their final run today and as a result the fall in the market has been considerable. In Italy, the decrease is striking: a fall from 1.263 million euros overall in sales to a “mere” 712 million euros in 2012.
Such culminating factors have occurred before in 2006. At that time the sales figures were around 746 million and even then there was the end of a cycle marked by “playstation” or the quintessential Playstation2 by Sony. When its successor Playstation3, and its direct competitor Xbox 360 of Microsoft, entered the market sales suddenly rose in Italy in the following year to over a billion euros, reflecting a trend which knows no geographical boundaries.
I have analysed these figures to place in its real context the performance anxiety the two consoles of videogames might have had when Playstation4 by Sony and Xbox One by Microsoft entered the international and Italian market at the end of November. Such anxiety is of a commercial nature: it derives from the manufacturers need (and expect) to increase their revenue, in order to avoid a natural loss turning into a fiasco.
However, my aim is to write a few lines to families who have budgets to bear in mind rather to manufacturers. The Christmas edition of Fogli may help in giving a brief consideration of some commercial dynamics and their psychological reflections.
Is it appropriate or right to buy Playstation4 and or Xbox One?
Obviously, traders and shop owners will say yes, pouring out quite an impressive series of data: the neo- consoles are ten times more powerful than the old versions; they can also operate as a “control centre” for any device connected to the Tv, can show Blu-Ray discs, download online material, and help with management of TV Sat. In short, neither of the two are retro-compatible with discs of the older consoles: what comes out with Ps4 and Xbox One (difficult to abbreviate in that “One” is already an abbreviation of All in one ) does not work on the previous generation consoles. Likewise the software for Ps3 and Xbox 360 are incompatible with the new consoles.
Here is where commercial and other interests begin to diverge. Why introduce a new gadget in a home which not only is expensive (new Xbox costs 500 euros, Ps4 costs 400 euros) which would set aside and lead to an abandonment of games collected through years of sacrifice? To add to this, there are few new games in circulation at the moment as there has been little time to develop them and because the games will also come out in the previous version.
The consoles are in practice personal computers designed for playing with but with indispensable requisites of stability respect to the pc’s used for work. Although they are not superior to normal pc’s (with all their scintillating novelties like their effective power, the two new consoles have more than an average pc), they guarantee an efficient service with no surprises and consequently the vital cycle of the consoles is long. Pc’s on the other hand are continually exposed to software and hardware modifications which give them a shorter lifespan. The last version should have lasted until 2015, but for prevailing commercial reasons - the necessity to make money this period has been shortened.
In order to stress the “central” role of the new consoles they have been designed with many technological aspects: the neo Microsoft aims to be as I said a control centre where all entertainment activities are connected to the big TV screen. It has also incorporated increased corporeal commands which can be learnt with gestures and words without the use of a controller, which has already been launched with Kinekt in its previous version. Personally, I don’t believe much in the evolution of videogames guided by this new type of interface based on movement. This might be the reason why the “new” Wii by Nintendo (out in 2012) was a flop. Once the initial novelty of physical movement had passed, one realised that it was also tiring and that it was more enjoyable playing sitting still.
Essentially, it is likely that the new consoles can become precious allies in our leisure time in the future. However, they have to win the public over, by delivering and producing material which will enhance this progress. Besides, the “old” consoles still guarantee excellent performance and have relatively moderate prices. I think before we change generation we can wait at least until next Christmas!