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Impact of the Video Games Crash of 1983 on Modern Gaming

In today’s tech sphere, a crash refers to a major malfunction of servers and computer code, leading to widespread downtime that individual network members cannot alter.

This is the story of the video games crash of 1983 and its effect on the technologies behind modern gaming systems, and by extension, the blockchain.

What really happened in 1983?

By early 1980, video gaming had reached fever-pitch in the USA, entering into its second generation. Arcades were gaining in popularity, while games like Pac-Man Fever and Atari 2600 held onto the minds and souls of thousands in a seeming vice-like grip.

At the height of its popularity, tragedy struck in the video gaming industry. The tragedy was so great that dozens of console and game producers went bankrupt. The production of brand new games ground to a halt.
By the time the industry was able to recover, the monopoly held by the Americans in this new entertainment industry was completely obliterated. A new force had to be reckoned with- one with as much creativity and innovation as the Americans: the Japanese.

What Caused the 1983 Video Games Crash?

The first cause of this disruption to the fully-fledged video gaming industry was an over-saturation of gaming items like consoles and games themselves. Such was its popularity in 1983 that consumers had far too many options to choose from.

With so many options came indecisiveness on the part of customers. Each of the consoles had its unique array of games, exclusive to the manufacturers of the games. This affected the continuity of friendly, competitive gaming, especially with friends.

Another reason for the crash was the implications of too many manufacturers making too many games. Issues in game development arose as primary manufacturers lost the ability to regulate third-party manufacturers who developed games on their behalf.

Atari games buried in New Mexico landfill
taylorhatmaker, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The most popular example of the above is the downfall of Atari that at the time made the most popular game in the industry. In fact, the overall crash of the industry was intrinsically, invariably linked to the fall of Atari.

Atari made the error of not paying its in-house game designers well enough, withholding royalties and denying them authorial credit. This led to talent being poached from right under their noses, away from fierce competitors such as Williams Electronics and Activision.

The result was a string of cost lawsuits, which led to Atari drastically cutting down on the prices of its consoles. Then came the over-saturation of the market with hundreds of low-quality games and cartridges, leading to cross-platform compatibility issues. A crash was imminent.

The Impact of the 1983 Video Games Crash on Modern Gaming

Modern gaming systems continue to evolve. After the failure of Atari, the next giant in the gaming industry, Nintendo, took drastic steps to ensure that they did not repeat Atari’s mistakes. These measures extend up until modern times, even as the industry continues to evolve. Below are some of the major implications on modern gaming:

Fewer Consoles, More Games

Gone is the glut of consoles that dominated the video gaming sphere in the early 80s’. Although upcoming video games are still as diverse, it is possible to enjoy one game for many years without the fear of the console being discontinued.

For instance, Sony has only released five major consoles in its PlayStation franchise (excluding its mobile franchises such as the Portable and the Vita), with developers continuing to make games for the PlayStation 3, 4, and 5. For context, the PlayStation 3 was released in 2006.

Better Game Engines

Instead of having to compete to create hundreds of consoles, many of which would be amateurish versions, the developer community concentrated on developing better gaming engines, which have accelerated the evolution of gaming.

Now, gaming engines like Unity and Unreal Engine have developer tools that enable designers to create even more realistic games compatible cross-platform.

The Future of Gaming: The Endless Possibilities of the Blockchain

The potential of blockchain technology in gaming is boundless. The blockchain itself is a decentralized ledger that cannot be altered by individual members of the network. When it translates to gaming, the possibilities are truly endless.

In the future, cryptocurrency will be the token of gaming, as gamers will have the ability to own in-game assets and transfer them cross-platform. You will be able to buy Ethereum and other tokens, using them to make in-game purchases.

For gaming developers, this translates to increased flexibility without being limited to the developer tools afforded by the gaming engine. Specialized consoles will become a thing of the past.

As you enjoy your console games and thumb away at pads night and day, do so in the knowledge that blockchain gaming offers even more possibilities.

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