AHC: Screw Gaming As Much As Possible

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by BeyondTheBorg, Jun 12, 2019 at 4:03 PM.

  1. BeyondTheBorg Active Member

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    Aug 30, 2016
    In contrast to pop-culture wish-fulfillment timelines like Player Two Start, your challenge is to make video games suck as much as possible, and have the industry be as small as possible. Imagine a perpetual 1983 video game crash.

    Some ideas:
    -The computer industry is as monopolized and closed as possible, dominated by a megacorp like IBM, or a totalitarian government like the USSR, who see computers solely as business machines for professionals, not toys for the mass market
    -Worse moral panic/evangelical revival in the 1990s leads to video games actually being banned, and the industry in shambles
    -WWIII/TEOTWAWKI sometime before gaming really kicks off. That would be cheating, though.
     
  2. TheMann Canuckwanker in Chief

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    Toronto, Canada
    ASB. Even if the evangelical panic had been truly powerful (it wasn't, really), simply culling the most violent of games would lick that problem. If you make computers popular sooner or later games are going to grow into a big industry, and competition will speed that process along.
     
  3. BobTheBarbarian Well-Known Member

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    Charlotte, North Carolina
    In my opinion, video games started dying when companies began emphasizing online multiplayer as the main component of the game, rather than as an auxiliary to the single-player/split screen mode (c. 2007 or so). This opened the door for endless micro-transactions, "pay-to-win," and the vanilla game being only like 40% of the entire product. Anyone else remember when DLCs used to be like ordering dessert at a restaurant rather than a $100 installment plan for a $50 game?

    Nowadays I only play old games and World of Tanks with a free account.
     
  4. BeyondTheBorg Active Member

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    Eh, not quite ASB. I can think of a few TLs existing on this site already where games suck because the rest of the world sucks. 1983: Doomsday would be cheating, but Fear, Loathing, and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72 's gaming industry would presumably be smaller because the world economy is smaller, US citizens have little excess income or free time for games, and the countries doing better under "MBA Communist" governments would see games as an unproductive diversion.

    But at least you wouldn't see microtransactions, because there's no civilian internet in the Gumboverse.
     
  5. Coiler Well-Known Member

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    Jan 10, 2009
    Absent any big macroeconomic crushes, I can think of a few "bumps".

    • The early handheld market becomes a "Goldilocks" when Yokoi's original idea for the Game Boy (a glorified Game and Watch) gets approved. So you're stuck with a basic novelty (and something that could never, ever run Pokemon, possibly butterflying or at least limiting that) and the other low-battery clunkers that other companies made.
    • Some franchise-specific ones. If Halo either fails or isn't made, the XBox could very well do a lot worse, with all the consequences from that. If Smash Bros is butterflied away, a lot of the settings it propped up go with it.
     
  6. Colonel Zoidberg Well-Known Member

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    Aug 20, 2008
    If Nintendo stays out of the US, Atari ends up being the only real game in town. In addition to screwing over their programmers (to the point where Warren Robinett had to hide his name in a fucking Easter egg just to get any credit whatsoever) they royally fucked up a major licensed game with E.T. If they steer clear of all licensed games and manage to keep the competition at bay in America, video games end up either dying out or restricted to arcades for a while.

    Even then, unless America’s culture is so strongly anti-video game that no one dares give it a try, that will last a generation at the most. It will avert consoles but make the PC and Mac into equivalents. Video game consoles will have to be primarily something else, but to completely wipe out video games is damn near impossible.
     
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  7. DAv Middle Class... sorry

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    I did have it in my timeline Who's The Doctor? where a death is attributed to someone playing video games in the late 80's, Splatterhouse to be precise. As a result, Castle Wolfenstein 3D never gets wide publishing, an earlier and much, much stricter ESRB is created and gaming in the US sees a longer reliance on arcades.
     
  8. TheMann Canuckwanker in Chief

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    I'm not sure I'd go that far. I think what causes every problem you mention is the fact that a handful of companies dominate the third-party games market (Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Zenimax, Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Atari, Konami and the like exemplify this) and that most of these companies care less about game quality and more about the profits the games themselves make, and heavily-monetized massive hits (Overwatch was the worst offender, Grand Theft Auto Online a close second) made such a killing for their makers that the corporate executives all now want to make that game.

    In an ideal world this would result in the quality of games going through the roof, as the highest-quality tend to get the greatest recognition from games themselves. But making a game of that quality is hugely expensive and so the suits demand lower costs or additional profits. That's what drives paid DLCs - the content is complete and impressive, but selling a $60 game and then making players pay another $40 for additional content raises the margin on each unit and thus improves the odds of making a profit on a game.

    But what's happened now is that pendulum has swung too far. Fallout 76 and Anthem were unfinished lumps of garbage shoved out the door in the hope of players buying it and then paying for the content it should have had in the first place, and the player base is livid about it. FIFA Ultimate Team and the Call of Duty and Battlefield series have become essentially pay-to-win and the single most egregious way of profiting from games - lootboxes - are on their way to being banned in much of the modern world. The Player base being as angry at it is is actually a good thing, as it's going to start hurting the developers at some point (probably soon) and at that point their continued existence will depend on appeasing that angry base.