Atari, SEGA, Panasonic, ColecoVision, SNK, NEC, Maganvox; they all used to make gaming hardware. Then PlayStation happened, making such an impact that it sent half the console manufacturers to the grave. Since then, console gaming has nearly always been a three-horse race; for the past two generations, we’ve had Sony, Nintendo an Microsoft as the big three. That’s changing…but is that a good thing?
Thanks, in part, to the proliferation of the Android operating system, we’ve seen a number of new gaming systems. The crowd-sourced mini console, the Ouya is nearing large-scale public release; graphics chip maker Nvidia’s joined the fray with its own handheld, currently codenamed The Shield; and even peripheral makers like Razer are trying to go for a slice of the pie. Valve’s even trying to “consolify” the PC experience with its Steam Box and Big Picture Mode.
The problem is, though the pie’s getting bigger, there are so many new entrants that each is inevitably left with a smaller slice. Add those guys to the existing platform holders – as well as cellphone and tablet gaming and handhelds – and there’s a ridiculous number of gaming systems. It’s really becoming quite ludicrous.
I know it sounds like the epitome of a first world problem, but is there too much choice when it comes to gaming? Would we, as gamers be better served with 3 or four less fragmented platforms or is all of this choice good for us?
Are we, perhaps, headed for another video game market crash, like we saw in the early 80’s?