1983 was pretty much like the great depression for gaming. When the video game crash happened, a lot of consoles suffered from this, as now all appeal had been lost. Not only that, the rise of home computers, like the Apple Macintosh and the legendary Commodore 64 were on the rise for this period between 1983 and 1985. To put into perspective as to how bad this crash was, the Vectrex and Atari 5200 were discontinued in 1984, and by the time the NES came to America in 1985, the video game industry went from 3.2 billion dollars, to 100 million. That is a 97 percent decline in two years, and that was a drop that could’ve ended the video gaming industry.
The Third Generation was pretty much a Renaissance period of gaming, as at this point, it was all or nothing, and the company that was the spearhead of this generation, was Nintendo. Nintendo released the Family Computer in 1983 in Japan, otherwise known as the Famicom and it was a success in the Japanese market, along with the release of the disk system they would release alongside the Famicom not long after in 1986, but it wasn’t until October of 1985 where it was released to America, and it was a resounding success.
Sega made their debut in the console market with the SG-1000 in 1983, and while it was the beginning of the blue brand, it didn’t sell too well due to the fact that the Famicom was more popular than the system, and was eventually discontinued in 1985 and was never released to the American market. They did bounce back however with the release of the Sega Master System in October of 1985, however, this comeback was… shit. It didn’t sell too well at all in Japan or America due to the fact that now, the NES and Famicom were dominating the market and they pretty much had the weight of the whole gaming industry on their shoulders trying to revive it, and although Sega did have a helping hand, it was one of those “too little too late” moments and was soon discontinued in America in 1992. However, the system did do well in Europe selling several million units and discontinuing in 1996. And last but not least, Brazil. Now you’d think that the lifespan of the PS2 was ridiculous, from 2000 to 2013, get this: the Master System has yet to be discontinued in Brazil. You read that right, you don’t need to rub your eyes or clean your glasses, the Master System is still being made in Brazil to this day, which means that the Master System has a life of 30 years, making it the longest-running console that is being sold today. I legit can’t imagine being someone from Brazil who owns this in the modern-day, but technically this means that the Third Generation of gaming, although ending in 2003 with the end of the Famicom, is still technically in existence since the Master System has yet to be discontinued. Jesus that’s a long time and then some.
And the last console to talk about is the Atari 7800. Has anyone noticed that the Atari consoles actually went up in 2600s? That’s an interesting little Easter Egg I just found out. But there’s really not much to say about it as there are no sales numbers to the system and how it did. It was released in 1986 but discontinued on New Year’s Day, 1992. It’s both an enigmatic system, but also a forgotten one, and the 2600 was still going on during this generation and pretty much became the Commodore 64 of the console bunch. Cheap, underpowered, but still fun to use even with the consoles that were out at this time.
There’s almost no question about it that Nintendo were the winners of the Third Generation of the Console Wars. They pretty much saved the entire gaming industry from what could’ve been the end had Nintendo never came into America with the NES, but they pretty much made gaming cool again, especially when they started releasing their famous magazine “Nintendo Power” in 1988.
But in 1987, a new challenger had approached that had graphical capabilities that surpassed the NES and the Sega Master System, and it began a gaming revolution that lasted for the entirety of the 90s.
Enter: The Bit Wars
A Delayed Game is a Good Game
Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto once said, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” This quote has been echoed quite a lot these past months. Another game this year has been delayed. CD Projekt Red has announced that they are delaying Cyberpunk 2077 to September 17, 2020, instead of its initial April release date.
This is the first delay for Cyberpunk 2077 even though the wait has felt like years. Cyberpunk 2077 was announced way back in 2013 and didn’t get a release date until E3 2018. Now it does seem that the majority of the community and myself are willing to wait. Unfortunately, there are the few that are not as compassionate.
Now Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t the first game to be delayed. The first Triple A 2020 game that I can remember to be delayed was The Last of Us Part II, originally slated for February and now slated for May. Then it was The Avengers and then followed by the Final Fantasy 7 remake.
From my perspective, I’m not at all upset by these delays. In fact, I think my wallet is more relieved because of it. When talking to my group of friends the other day, we agreed that there is no delayed game that we would be really upset over. They can take all the time they need as delays are not really my concern. It happens, right? Sometimes it just needs a little more time in the oven. What I’m really concerned about however is the nature of crunching in the video game industry. Crunching is a video game industry term for developers spending time working on a video game for an unhealthy amount of time. Typically working overtime without pay.
As CD Projekt Red has explained in their Q&A conference call, Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed to allow more time for the developers to polish up the game. According to CD Projekt Red’s CEO Adam Kicinski, “polishing is just a complex task. It’s about the number of things we have to take care of rather than some fundamental problem.” The base game is playable, it just needs time for bug fixing.
Delayed ≠ No Crunch
Initially, I was pleased that CD Projekt Red decided to delay so they could give their developers plentiful time to work on the game without a rush. Unfortunately, crunching seems unavoidable even with the delay.
When asked about crunching during their Q&A conference call, Kicinski responded “To some degree, yes, to be honest. We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.”
This calls into question the work ethic behind these Triple-A titles even with delays. Crunching doesn’t always happen but it’s seemingly becoming more and more common, unfortunately.
The last big crunching controversy that came to light was Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2. In a Vulture article, Dan Houser, the co-founder of Rockstar Games, stated that they were working 100-hour weeks when working on Red Dead Redemption 2. It immediately sparked controversy in the video game community, denouncing Rockstar for their crunching practice.
Some developers even came out to claim how working long hours negatively affected their health. “I was pushed further into depression and anxiety than I had ever been while I worked there,” a former Rockstar Games developer told Kotaku. “My body was exhausted, I did not feel as though I was able to have any friends outside of work, I felt like I was going insane for much of my time there and I started drinking heavily.”
Is the Art Worth the Sacrifice?
The former Rockstar developer was just one example and I would really hate to see this practice becoming the standard in the industry. It’s understandable that companies like CD Projekt Red and Rockstar Games are committed to giving us the players the best possible experience as we were promised. But it comes into question, when is the art worth the sacrifice?
Kicinski stated in the Q&A, “You sacrifice some things to do that and be part of that. There are a lot of people who come into the industry that are fresh; they don’t really understand what it takes to do it,” he said. “So, we get a lot of new guys coming in, and they go, ‘Oh god, this is like too much.’ But then we have other guys come in from Rockstar Games, and they’re like, ‘This is not even crunch!’ We’re doing the best we can to keep the work under control. But sometimes when you’re doing some big-ass game like this, it’s not always possible to do that. It takes really hard work to make it really awesome.”
CD Projekt Red’s Adam Kicinski openly admits that even though the game is delayed, crunching is still inevitable. Delaying the project didn’t shorten crunch time, it just extended it. The fact that he also seems to almost shrug it off, speaking on their behalf and say that his team can handle it is quite concerning. For me, it just calls into question, what other Triple-A game is dealing with this?
As much as we demand the highest quality in our games, we do have to keep in mind that it may also come at a cost. When CEO’s say that sacrifices must be made for the perfect game, they rarely mean their own sacrifices.