‘2008 was a perfect storm’

From the storming of the Bastille, to the King of England being expelled from Parliament, to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, or more recently the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, the effect of these actions is truly life changing.

On September 15th this year a bank which many ordinary people with ordinary bank accounts had never heard of went bust – and all our lives changed.

In our own little games industry oasis, most of us had looked forward to 2008 as a year of growth and prosperity. The opportunities afforded by the DS and the Wii offered a rich seam of potential profit without the development risk seen on the ‘heavier’ formats.

Pink pony and trap games were the key to profit. Even the Queen was hooked on the Wii and poor old Wills was desperate to find time to play the one his gran had bought him for Christmas. Maybe less time in Boujis would have helped.

But that was at the head of the year, and the perfect storm was yet to hit us all. Oh yes and games revenue overtook music revenue at retail… and retailers’ profits were on the up, up, up.

So the market swelled and swelled and became bloated and ugly. Too many DS and Wii products surely ‘alpha exponents of mainly beta potential’? Falllout from the feast saw companies go into freefall, making the oasis into a ghetto. We were melting down along with the rest of the world.

And not everything is down to a plethora of ‘me too’ products and slack practice. We have seen some of the best ever games release this year on the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360, but there is so much content, that even the most committed games addict has simply got too much to choose from.

Add in the fact that prices fall quicker than the Christmas decorations after Twelfth Night and you have a market in crisis. Mix in the simple fact that most game makers see retail and distributors as the equivalent of the Russians in World War II and there is much confusion everywhere. The future is digital delivery – or is it? Old business models and spreadsheets are being torn up on a daily basis (are you listening, format holders?).

If there is a New World Order, no one is certain what it is. Kick out the jams, motherfuckers. It’s time to start again.

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