Selling Games In A Saturated Market

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Selling Games In A Saturated Market

It's getting to be downright amazing how many games there are out there, but with more and more games showing up on a regular basis--huge names and indie fare among them--that's posing a bit of a challenge to marketers, and to players alike.

Recently, Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata took some questions from investors while discussing Nintendo's annual financial results. During the course of that conversation, he made note of that aforementioned development when it comes to gaming: there are more and more games in play with every passing month, and the games that are showing up aren't having the kind of impact they used to.

Iwata said, more specifically, that "...these improvements are becoming less noticeable." Indeed, Iwata even went so far as to say "In short, what one platform can offer will eventually become saturated. Every consumer will inevitably become tired of and get less excitement from the same type of entertainment."

Basically, it's a sort of analogue for the law of diminishing returns. Even as games improve, people get so used to what's being offered that there's just no sense in offering it any more because the impact is lessened each time. Throw in the idea that a $50-$60 game may or may not offer the same thrill ride that's offered by a set of 20 or more indie games at $1 or more a crack and the picture becomes downright bleak.

Of course, then again, one clear issue comes up: the games themselves. Where have the improvements been made? Primarily in the graphics. We're absolutely laden with first-person shooters: Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Borderlands 2, and so on. Consider the number of games out there that just look a lot like any other and the problem becomes clear.

Now consider the games that aren't like many others. Consider the Fallouts and Skyrims, first-person experiences with a huge depth of play. The Grand Theft Autos with the third-person fun, the Saints Rows with the sheer outlandishness. That pool is a lot smaller.

In one sense, Iwata's right. The market is becoming saturated. But where Iwata's off is just what it is that's saturating the market. Innovation is the key to the whole matter; innovation that produces games with unusual features, games with unusual game play. The more innovation that shows up in gaming the better off we'll all be, and the more likely our games are to keep our interest even the farther down we go.
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