Game Changing Events In The History of Gaming
The video game industry is widely popular. This popularity garners it mainstream news coverage. That wasn’t always the case however. Once upon a time before the internet, gamers had to get their news from specific outlets. These mainly consisted of magazines dedicated to all things video game related. When something monumental happened, you knew because then suddenly it received mainstream news coverage.
Many of these events weren’t given enough credit at the time for just how much they would change the industry moving forward. In that spirit I’ve put together a list of things that have had an impact of the video game industry landscape.
The Game Boy
Nintendo has been in the handheld gaming market for a long time. Before the 3DS or even the DS line of systems, there was the Game Boy. While the Game Boy isn’t the first handheld gaming system ever created. It did make that area of gaming popular with the mainstream.
The Game Boy launched at a time when the console wars were fought on multiple fronts. Once Nintendo launched the handheld both Sega and Atari quickly followed suit. Not only did Sega and Atari launch handheld consoles to compete with the Game Boy. They arguably had better consoles than the Game Boy. Despite this Nintendo emerged from the battle of the handhelds the clear victor.
At the time no one knew that gaming on the go was going to become such big business. While Nintendo is still a dominate force in handheld gaming. They now face stiff competition from smart devices. Which while not dedicated gaming devices, they have more than enough power to play many different types of games.
The Playstation Arrives
By the early 90’s the video game industry had two leaders Nintendo and Sega. While Nintendo was viewed by many as number one and Sega as number two. The two companies had managed to coexist. Then Sony jumped into the fray and shook everything up.
While many were skeptical that the console market could support another player. Sony proved everyone wrong. A feat that becomes even more impressive, when you consider that up to that point Sony had no game division. The Playstation did more than just upset the status quo at the time though. It changed the direction of the home video game market.
The Playstation used an optical disc instead of a cartridge. While the Playstation wasn’t the first to use optical media, it was the first to do so successfully. This success was the final nail in the coffin for cartridge based gaming on home consoles.
Sega Bows Out
The launch and success of the Playstation was a crushing blow to Sega. The company found itself relegated to third place in a changing landscape. To make matters worse Sony was siphoning off a lot of the demographic that Sega targeted with their games and systems. The company still had fight left in them and they weren’t about to roll over for anyone.
With the ushering in of the sixth console generation, Sega launched the Dreamcast. The console was the first in the new generation of hardware. Despite the head start over both Sony and Nintendo. It wasn’t enough. Once the Playstation 2 and GameCube launched Sega found itself in a familiar position.
The Dreamcast launched in 1998 by January 2001 Sega announced that they were getting out of the hardware market. While the company announced that they would be focusing on their successful arcade business.
They also announced that they would keep developing and publishing software. Since then the company has become a successful third-party publisher. Releasing titles on its former rivals’ hardware. Still after 18 years in the home console business many were sad to see Sega bow out.
Microsoft Steps Up
With Sega out of the console business. Many viewed this as confirmation that the console market couldn’t support three players. Microsoft decided to prove them all wrong, when they released the Xbox in 2001. With the arrival of the Xbox the console market once again had three players.
Microsoft quickly brought its years of software development to the table. They bought studios such as Rare, giving them the ability to churn out titles for their new system. They very quickly filled the void left by Sega. Before anyone realized it not only had a new player entered the console market. Nintendo suddenly found itself the low man on the totem-pole.
In the years since the first Xbox released. Microsoft has cemented itself as a legitimate player within the video game industry. They’ve been in the console business almost as long as Sega by this point. With no sign of them bowing out anytime soon.
Steam Shakes Things Up
Personal computers and video games have never been strangers. Once upon a time when you bought a game for a PC. You had few options, get it on a 5.25 floppy and hope it didn’t fail. Later you could get games on a 3.5-inch floppy, chances were the game would come on multiple discs. Finally came optical media, in the form of CD-ROMs and eventually DVD’s.
Then of course, there’s the internet which changed so many things. Such as the ability to shop and buy products online. Jump ahead to 2003 and the release of Steam. Now gamers can shop and purchase titles digitally, without the need for a physical copy.
Not only was Steam a success, now buying games digitally is common practice. All the home consoles now include a digital storefront. In fact, many believe that the industry is moving to an all-digital future.
To Sum Up
Many things have changed the game industry. Even if the change that was going to come about was evident at the time. The industry continues to change and grow. Sometimes by leaps and bounds, other times it happens at a snail’s pace. Lasting change isn’t always apparent when something happens. Just look at the events listed here when you need a reminder of that.
Have thoughts, or comments? Sound off below.