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Tons of Crap

August 31, 1998

It seems like the Dreamcast will be very successful if Sega plays its cards right (and it seems like they are). Look at the facts: Sega has already set aside a lot of money to advertise it, they will take their time developing software in English before it is launched in the U.S., they will have full retail distribution (or so Bernie Stolar says), and they are making the console easy to program for. This last point in particular makes me a little concerned (not worried). And it is that it seems like the Dreamcast will have lots of crappy software.

Why do I say this? Let's see what's happening right now. The "common" people who now see all the software for the PlayStation (which also has a lot of crap) look at the amount of games available on the shelves and say: "Look at all these choices!" and feel they made a good purchase with the PlayStation. And most parents are not educated buyers: they buy whatever they recognize, and that is either what their children tell them to buy (like Donkey Kong Country) or the characters they already know (like Bugs Bunny). They don't know, of course, that most licensed video games are crap, since the developers don't spend enough resources making sure it is a good game, thinking the license will "sell the game."

Since the developers are already saying that the Dreamcast is so easy to program, rest assured that the same thing will happen to it. That doesn't take away my sleep, though. It's true that crappy software caused the video game crash of 1985, but the world is different now. Information about video games (and about everything else) is more readily available at this time than 15 years ago, even if you don't have access to the Internet. The industry (and the players) have grown up too, so that means both sides have more money. Most importantly, since the industry is more established, there will always be a few companies who will make good-quality games to keep the customers happy.

The downside to this is that costumers have to be more educated before they make their purchases. And that doesn't only mean reading the reviews, that also means knowing which games you like. For example, I never really liked first person shooters. I bought PowerSlave and, while I know it's an excellent game, it didn't hold my interest for long. The same with Iron Storm. I don't like war simulations unless they have a "fantasy" setting, like the Shining Force series. This process takes time and means buying some games you end up not liking. But serious gamers already do that and don't mind.

Another disadvantage that will probably be overlooked my most people is that quite a few video game companies will go bankrupt trying to succeed in this industry that has so much competition. It's easy to be aware of the new games from Capcom, SquareSoft, and Electronic Arts, but not of the games made by a new startup company, who needs its one or two games to do well just to survive. You know, their games might actually be good.

However, even though it might seem like I'm whining, I don't think it is really bad that we will be surrounded by crappy games in the years to come. Remember, more options is good. And one person't garbage might be another person's masterpiece. For example, many people hated the Saturn game Astal, calling it "not innovative" and "boring." I loved it.


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