Did PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Save the Gaming Industry?

2013 was a terrible year for the video game industry. Did these two consoles come along just in time?
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Toward the tail end of the previous generation, analysts and journalists often discussed the term “generational fatigue.”

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Basically, it meant that the generation had dragged on too long, and consumers were tired with the current pieces of hardware. One could find proof to support such a theory in 2013’s awful statistics; the video game industry declined just about every month and most percentage declines were in the double-digits.

As such, there was talk of another gaming recession of sorts, if not an all-out crash. What happened to the industry back in the early ’80s probably couldn’t happen again (at least, not the same way), but video games were definitely struggling. The Wii U hadn’t succeeded in helping much, and the PlayStation Vita hadn’t caught on.

Then, two knights in shining armor…?

The timing couldn’t have been better

Even if the current consoles may feel underpowered in a few years, and even if we haven’t seen the strongest assembly of exclusive software just yet, I think the evidence is plain: Releasing both consoles at almost exactly the same time really helped save the industry. Granted, you could’ve released one for the 2013 holiday season and another at the end of 2014, thereby keeping next-gen hype rolling for another year. But really, having both new machines available simultaneously gave gaming the shot of adrenaline it so desperately needed.

It reminded me a little of the Major League Baseball surge, experienced back in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were locked in that epic, record-setting home run battle. Of course, we find out later that the battle was tainted but at the time, it really saved a floundering business. Interest in the nation’s national pastime had dwindled, and the MLB needed a way to fill seats. McGwire and Sosa, altered though they may have been, did just that.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may have had a similar effect, and that effect could continue.

Industry numbers are up, and there’s no indication that the trend will stop

It’s true that summer is often a downtime for the gaming industry, and there really isn’t much going on this year, either. So, you might see some down numbers for July and August but after that, those stats should rise quickly. On top of which, according to the NPD Group results, the gaming industry has risen – steeply at times – during the first five or six months of 2014. The rise isn’t entirely attributable to the new consoles but let’s face it, they’re having the biggest positive impact right now.

Some may claim the systems were rushed to market but in this particular case, maybe that’s a good thing. The industry was in dire straits and we really needed ’em. Besides, when I hear the word “rushed,” I think of a shoddy, unreliable product, and the PS4 and Xbox One are arguably two of the more reliable new consoles in history. They don’t feel rushed at all. If you’re complaining about the lack of killer software, two things: 1. Compare what we’ve had already to the first 8 months of any other generation, and 2. Don’t forget the huge third-party releases available on each console right at launch.

I say the PS4 and Xbox One are heaven-sent boons. Is there any other way to look at it?

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.