Crystal Balls

It still staggers me that people feel they can predict the direction of the video game industry as an industry. I mean, they can if they want, but you’d think twenty-five years of being constantly wrong would discourage them just a bit.

Trying to call where the video game industry is headed seems like a fools’ errand to me. I did at one point — like most teenagers, I generalized from my own experience and declared that the industry would eventually end up in the place that was most pleasing for me personally. Obviously, the years following broke me of that particular delusion, and I haven’t tried again since. Just in my lifetime I’ve seen the rise and fall of radical animal mascots, the death and resurrection of 2-D, the domination of superviolent fighting games, the peak of the JRPG, the brief ascendancy of plastic instrument games, motion control and 3-D, the faux-retro movement, and the shift towards expanded audience-games and mainstream recognition. What all of these shifts have in common is that they completely blindsided the “experts” who confidently predict the next big thing in video games. But no, I’m sure that this time they’re right about 99-cent apps being the wave of the future. I mean, why bother?

It’s gotten to the point where whenever I see someone criticizing a video game company for a stupid business move, I automatically mark down that person as being full of shit. History only seems inevitable in retrospect. The present is full of wrongheadedness and misplaced confidence.

Personally, I’ve given up on trying to call the industry’s direction, or even caring. I’m focusing on games. If companies keep making games I want to play for platforms I own, I’ll keep buying them. If they don’t, well, I’ve got a bigger backlog than ever before to sift through, and it’s not like I couldn’t be perfectly happy playing Ocarina of Time and Paper Mario 2 until the revolution comes. I derive a lot more enjoyment out of the hobby from ignoring the gossipy financial side as best I can. If that makes me less of an enthusiast, so be it.

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