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Home consoles are losing popularity


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I've noticed a generational decline in system sales since the peak in 2010.  This first graph I have taken the total handheld sales and grouped them into only 5 generations.  The origin of modern handheld gaming starts with Gameboy OG and the rest come along for the ride until the popular but short generational Gameboy Advance was replaced with the Nintendo Dual Screen only 3 years later.  Playstation Portable set the bar for technical advancements starting the 3rd generation for the next 6 years when Playstation Vita  shared generation 4 with 3DS.  Generation 5 began with the Nintendo Switch until the Switch Pro which will likely follow.

No word from Sony whether they will make another portable and Microsoft has already stated that they would sit out for awhile.  Nintendo seems to control the handheld market for now.

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The next graph shows the number of hardware units sold per console generation.  There is a perfect bell curve starting from NES all the way to the peak during the Xbox 360 era and recent sales numbers suggest a decline comparatively.

 

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This 3rd graph counts the total units of every console brand for each generation.  It also counts the total units for all handheld brands, tallies it for the appropriate portable generations and then applies the numbers and years they peaked to the console generation graph.  The trend is the same.  There was a videogame peak during generation 7 era and it is in decline.

 

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Barely readable with the new default theme. Anywho, the untold part of the problem is the dramatic increase in single parent, single-earner homes, and the complete lack of demand in first world countries for unskilled or low-skilled laborers. A single mother isn't necessarily going to have the money to buy junior a new PlayStation. Also toss in the simplification of games to prevent negative reviews on social networking, and the ability to shovel them out onto the iPhones that every brat has to have the most expensive version of, and you have another nail in the coffin of traditional video gaming. It just keeps getting more grim, the more you look into everything that has even a tangentially negative impact on the prosperity of electronic gaming.

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First allow me to explain the technical problem with my pictures.  I used transparency in the picture and saved as png which keeps information such as layers and transparency.  This looked fine under the old theme but not under this new theme called "carbon".  I re-saved the pictures as jpeg and now it pops.

You make some good points such as disposable income and the fact that if everyone has a smartphone, it would make the most sense to appeal to these people.

I watch people like Angry Video Game Nerd or Pat Contri and those guys aren't even interested in new consoles.  The are interested in Atari and Sega Flashback consoles coming out as well as anything before PS3.  I'll also note that Pat likes his Steam account to play Indy games and get his fix on games like Friday the 13th but otherwise they only play old stuff.

A place like Gamespot argue about the latest and greatest games and consoles.  They probably do more talking than playing and this is the generation that will watch other people stream on twitch.

It's just hard to believe these numbers. 

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4 hours ago, Raijin Z said:

Barely readable with the new default theme.

Are you sure you aren't talking about carbon (the dark theme)?  The default theme should have been fine.  I use Ortem, and no problems there, either.

Anyway, I personally haven't been interested in consoles since the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube generation.  I just don't have time to play games often enough to justify buying a dedicated system, so whenever I play a game (new or old), I do it on a PC, since I already have one and generally have to upgrade to a new one every 2-3 years for work anyway.  PCs are certainly more affordable than they used to be, so households with gaming-capable PCs are probably more abundant than they used to be as well. 

Even so, I believe the main culprit at work here is, as you pointed out, the ubiquitous presence of smart phones.  I was actually thinking about this a lot recently, as the latest batch of Japanese gaming mag covers I've been uploading have all been magazines devoted strictly to mobile gaming (and I've got lots more still to upload.)  So in Japan, at least, it's extremely obvious how popular mobile gaming has become just by looking at the magazine racks and realizing that half of the gaming mags are for smartphone games.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Various contributing factors, as pointed out. Smart phones. The economy in general. The internet having a wide appeal and various ways to entertain.

 

Is the primary function of a game escapism? If so, there are MANY ways one can do that in this modern age. Personally I really only buy games anymore if I truly dig the art style or it presents a fun new twist on gameplay, or just does an incredible job all around.

 

Art - Valiant Hearts, WWI era... uh... game? I mean, technically it's a game. It isn't very challenging or technically impressive, but between the art style, the integration of the music into the gameplay, and the overall care put into the atmosphere makes this a really good one.

 

Gameplay twist - Portal turned the first person genre on its head, brought comedy, physics, puzzles, logic, and a sterile environment all into a smooth playing romp that is fun for the whole family.

 

All around - Valkyria Chronicles falls into this one for me. The art is what drew me to it, the gameplay kept me hooked, the challenge and sandbox nature of the loosely "rock paper scissor" rule structure... I loved it all. Breath of the Wild also appears to fall into this category, but I haven't picked up a system to play it on yet...

 

All this is a long winded way to say that consoles / home gaming will always have a place in my heart, as long as quality games are still made. If the day comes that phones are the only way to play, well, I'll probably have quit playing new games by then.

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While I wouldn't say I "despise" consoles, I haven't played on one in the past 9 years.  So I guess you could say me and consoles are through.:) 

PCs are just so much more versatile.  Games are just one of the things they do.  It's kind of like how when I used to go on vacation I'd bring a bunch of maps, a digital camera, an MP3 player, a laptop, a cell phone, a book to read, etc...but now I just bring my smart phone and leave all that other junk at home since the smart phone can do all of that.

In much the same way, I used to own a PC and 8 or 9 consoles, but I got tired of having so much clutter and decided to just do everything on the PC.  Sure, I can't play ALL the games (lots of Japanese games in particular are console-only), but there are more games for the PC than I'll ever have time to play my lifetime, so it's no big loss.  And with emulation, a whole bunch of those console titles aren't unplayable on a PC after all.

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I think there's a couple of reasons.

For one money is tight for a lot of people these days, I know it is for me and gaming only gets more expensive as time goes on, I've gone from owning a PS2, Xbox and Gamecube to a PS3, Wii and 360 to now only having a PS4 and a PC, I decided to invest the most money in a PC since the vast majority of new releases come out on PC anyway and it's usually the best version with the best graphics and so on, so it's no surprise that consoles would decline in popularity when they're no longer the best option.

Then you have kerfluffles like Gamergate which damaged the mainstream's perception of gaming and gamers, it's no surprise to me that 2010 would be the peak year as that was the peak time period of gaming's mainstream popularity with games like Guitar Hero and the Wii, now unfortunately gamers are back in the doghouse as being as seen as a seedy, disreputable culture, for a lot of people today "gamer" is probably synonymous with "Alt-Right" (not saying this is at all correct, just what the mainstream's perception is), I mean there was an episode of Law & Order depicting gamers as a pseudo ISIS like group, the days of everyone and their grandma playing Guitar Hero and the Wii are long gone.

I've also heard of weird stuff like kids today preferring to watch people play games on Youtube rather than play games themselves.

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1 hour ago, Straydog said:

I think there's a couple of reasons.

For one money is tight for a lot of people these days, I know it is for me and gaming only gets more expensive as time goes on, I've gone from owning a PS2, Xbox and Gamecube to a PS3, Wii and 360 to now only having a PS4 and a PC, I decided to invest the most money in a PC since the vast majority of new releases come out on PC anyway and it's usually the best version with the best graphics and so on, so it's no surprise that consoles would decline in popularity when they're no longer the best option.

If the "best option" is the one with the best graphics, its probably been at least 25 years since consoles were the best option.:P

I think you're right, though.  Most games these days are cross-platform, so you may as well get the PC version (as you say, it's usually the best.) 

In my opinion, the decline of the console (outside of Japan) is directly linked to the rise of Western game development.  During the time that consoles were king, most of the popular games were coming out of Japan, made for Japanese consoles.  In recent years, the divide between Western and Japanese gaming has broadened further than its ever been - the vast majority of Japanese games never reach Western shores, and vice versa.  Western gaming innovation has traditionally occurred on the PC, so almost all of the best Western-developed games are available on the PC (regardless of whether they also appear on a console).  As Western gamers rely less and less on Japanese games to entertain them, so do they rely less and less on home consoles.

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On 7/8/2017 at 4:54 PM, Straydog said:

I've also heard of weird stuff like kids today preferring to watch people play games on Youtube rather than play games themselves.

I'll admit to being one of those kids, even though I'm old enough to have owned an NES when they were still the hot new system. Why, you might ask? I can enjoy watching someone play a game for 15, 20 minutes, then move on to whatever else I have to do. Being an adult has perks for sure, one of them is definitely not an abundance of free time like I had 20 years ago...

 

I'll offer up the channel Continue? as a great example. Those guys are just a lot of fun to watch. Their commentary and banter are every bit as entertaining as the games they are playing, it just reminds me of all the fun times I had growing up, gaming with friends. Now almost all of the people I grew up gaming with have scattered all over the country (and even other parts of the world), so I scarcely get the social interaction that I used to with gaming. Why would I spend $400+++ on a new system if I'm just gonna be playing alone? In the last 5 years, only Breath of the Wild has even managed to catch my eye enough to make me consider dropping the money for a new system.

 

Say what you will about online gaming, it's amusing, but nowhere near as much fun as hanging out on the same couch.

 

On 7/8/2017 at 6:22 PM, kitsunebi77 said:

In my opinion, the decline of the console (outside of Japan) is directly linked to the rise of Western game development.  During the time that consoles were king, most of the popular games were coming out of Japan, made for Japanese consoles.  In recent years, the divide between Western and Japanese gaming has broadened further than its ever been - the vast majority of Japanese games never reach Western shores, and vice versa.

I think you hit the nail on the head here, logistically. System popularity follows the games, in a sense.

 

Personally, I use my PC for all the other aspects, but gaming is a very small priority on my rig. I think it has to do with the fact I always leave other stuff running, I doubt I could bring myself to shut down everything else (like you had to do, back in the 90's golden age) in order to play a game. I like having my browser, notes, music, video, etc, at the ready at a moment's notice.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I understand why you would put Switch as a handheld device, but Nintendo themselves have said that the Switch is a successor to the Wii U, and hence the first hardware for the 9th generation of consoles. Whether or not there will be a successor to the 3DS remains to be seen but the Switch is definitely a 9th-gen console that has portable capabilities.

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Makes me wonder where Nintendo got the idea for the Switch... SNK did the Neo Geo X a few years back, the fundamental idea is very similar. Granted that was a small production run by comparison with a major gaming hardware manufacturer, but still.

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1 hour ago, Jie said:

I understand why you would put Switch as a handheld device, but Nintendo themselves have said that the Switch is a successor to the Wii U, and hence the first hardware for the 9th generation of consoles. Whether or not there will be a successor to the 3DS remains to be seen but the Switch is definitely a 9th-gen console that has portable capabilities.

 

I feel no need to argue generation numbers.  My graphs are an arbitrary measure based upon my prospective although claiming that it is the first hardware for the 9th-gen console is daring.

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21 hours ago, Data said:

My graphs are an arbitrary measure based upon my prospective although claiming that it is the first hardware for the 9th-gen console is daring.

Well, it's not like it's without precedent. If PS5 and Nextbox will launch in 2020 (three years from now), that'd be just like how the TG-16 came into the scene during the midpoint of the 8-bit era, with SNES coming in 3 years later.

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Am I the only one who thinks dividing up consoles that have nothing to do with each other into "generations" is completely arbitrary and meaningless?  I understand it all started because "hey look, this console is 8-bits and so is this one - they must be the same!" but it's making less and less sense to group consoles together these days.  Saying that the Switch is the Next Generation of Nintendo consoles is fine, but implying that it should be placed in the same category as any other company's product doesn't make sense to me.  If the goal is to look at things from a sales perspective, then again, "generations" should be ignored and sales should be compared by units of time, be it years, months, or the lifespan of a system.

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I think it made enough sense until the original Wii came out. Up until then, you had systems of relative power levels competing directly. There were what, four of five distinct generations of systems until the mid 2000's and the debut of the Wii? Then... Nintendo decides to go a completely different direction from their main competition, and kinda threw off the shackles of comparison by doing their own thing.

 

I don't think it's been the same since, and I don't mind a bit. I'd be every bit as content as any of you to fire up Bust a Move and shoot bubbles around all night.

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1 hour ago, kitsunebi77 said:

1. Am I the only one who thinks dividing up consoles that have nothing to do with each other into "generations" is completely arbitrary and meaningless?  2. I understand it all started because "hey look, this console is 8-bits and so is this one - they must be the same!" but it's making less and less sense to group consoles together these days. 3. Saying that the Switch is the Next Generation of Nintendo consoles is fine, but implying that it should be placed in the same category as any other company's product doesn't make sense to me.  4. If the goal is to look at things from a sales perspective, then again, "generations" should be ignored and sales should be compared by units of time, be it years, months, or the lifespan of a system.

1. I wager you are not although I disagree.

2. It makes less sense because Xbox One and Playstation 4 when first released were seriously underpowered due to the weak co-processors and Sony decided to resell the Playstation 4 again with a better graphics chip and now Microsoft is doing the same.

3. This is why I created two separate graphs. One for handheld and another for home consoles.  The Switch is a handheld with the ability to connect to a television.

4. The goal is to have a visual representation of the total console sales worldwide.  I used the data available to me at the time and I clearly see that consoles and handheld videogame hardware is slipping.

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1 minute ago, Data said:

3. This is why I have two separate graphs for handheld and for home consoles.  The Switch is a handheld with the ability to connect to a television.

4. The goal is to have a visual representation of the total console sales worldwide.  I used the data available to me at the time and I clearly see that consoles and handheld videogame hardware is slipping.

3.  What is the difference between a handheld that can connect to a television and a console that can be portable?  Semantics.  Perhaps it is neither, just as it is both.

4.  I don't dispute the rationality of charting sales, I was merely saying that bracketing them off into separate generations isn't really necessary.  Right now, the PS3, WiiU and XBox360 are still being sold and are in direct sales competition with their successors.  Yes, they sell far less now that they have been outclassed, but they still need to be included in the same field of sales data as the newer systems if your intent is to track the decline of console sales in general.  As it is, the above charts seem to indicate that not a single PS3, WiiU or XBox360 has been sold since 2011.

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I can't speak for the rest of you, but the last time I nearly made an impulse purchase involving video games, was for a Wii U. I saw the controller, it was huge for the time, novel, and perhaps most importantly, innovative. The PS4 and XB1 had just came out, but I was only genuinely interested in this new Nintendo... thing.

 

...then I remembered that I still have a Wii that barely got played. So, I'm part of that declining sales trend as well.

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