In which author David V. Stewart takes the Cultural Ground Zero ball and advances it ten years down the field:
Maybe you’ve heard of cultural ground zero: 1997.
Now let’s talk games, because unlike other institutions of culture, the games industry kept on growing and innovating for another 10 years.
Then 2007 happened, and as far as the bigger publishers are concerned, games reached their peak and no more change or risk was required or even advisable. Gameplay seemed to stop changing almost entirely after 2007, and the extent to which it did change is usually in the negative, involving the watering-down of mechanics and general reduction of difficulty.
The stats bear David’s theory out. Compare annual US box office receipts to yearly video game industry revenues:
Throughout the late 90s and early aughts, the movie and video game industries were pretty much neck and neck in terms of revenue. That intra-entertainment industry competition stopped being a horse race in 2007, when gaming pulled decisively ahead – doubling Hollywood’s take that year.
Don’t think for a second that video games’ passing of this benchmark escaped the suits in the corner offices. Attaining twice the moneymaking power of Hollywood marked vidya’s graduation from a niche hobby to a serious business. They money men had found a new golden goose, and they stepped in to make sure it kept laying the exact same eggs forever.
And like David observed, it all happened in 2007.
What we’re seeing the results of now is big game studios throwing pretty much every hit game franchise into the corporate IP death cycle milking phase. All major game IPs from Call of Duty to WoW are endlessly riding a loop from the milking to death to reboot phases.
And it’s working. What was a $20 billion games industry at Gaming Ground Zero has grown by an order of magnitude.
Which goes to show once again that, “Get woke, go broke” is a cope. The more gamers complain about the declining quality and innovation in video games, the more money AAA studios rake in.
The same goes for Hollywood. People want their bread and circuses. They know the bread is adulterated with sawdust and the clowns hate them, but they don’t care.
All is not lost, however. Consistent personal experience has shown that the main reason normies continue subsisting on thin corporate gruel is they simply aren’t aware of any alternatives. In my own market of sci fi publishing, I’ve seen readers ditch the Wendigs, Scalzis and Kleins of oldpub for masters like Gibson, Howard, and Merritt the second you slap a pulp novel in their hands.
That’s not even mentioning contemporary newpub authors like David himself.
Gaining visibility, especially bereft of institutional support, has been a long row for indie creators to hoe. But signs are emerging that newpub is achieving significant market penetration.
Consider my Combat Frame XSeed: SS crowdfunder, which Indiegogo backers made my highest and fastest funded campaign yet.
If you missed the campaign’s initial run, I’ve extended it a few more days. Crossing the $10K milestone will be a strong bellwether of indie sci fi’s growth.
Help us reach our goal and expand into the card game and 3D printed miniatures arena.
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