Entering the dehomogenised age of video games

Back in the day (like many early medias) video game platforms and content were extremely local. My UK background of the 80-90s is very different than those of my US friends and very different to those of Japan.

The ZX Spectrum didn’t happen in America, the early PC gaming  days didn’t happen in Japan. Around 1990 this slowly started changing. We ended up with Japanese Consoles and American PCs. The market massively combined and standardised on a few key platforms. That’s how it stayed until around 2004.

2004 started to see the dehomogenisation  of the games market. Flash games and early mobile games gave way to large splits. Firstly the casual market broke off to a large degree from the core market. Certain platforms favoured one or the other, but there wasn’t one unified winner any more. The other un-noticed (in the west) split is the public commuter / private commuter split. In Japan, with it’s densely packed cities and long public commutes, fixed home consoles took a back seat and became the secondary consoles of choice. The DS and PSP are the successors to the GameCube and PS2 in Japan not the Wii and PS3. Cultures that don’t have those space restrictions and commute by car find it hard to wrap their heads around this concept. Mobile gaming has further complicated things by bringing handheld games on a scale that even private commuters can take up.

I think this break up has really confused many pundits who cut their teeth in the late 90s period where the PS1 ruled everywhere and the Gameboy was the only handheld to chose from.

A lot of games now are for them, they can just about cope with that. However that an entire platform can reside outside of their world in some sort of parallel  market is a hard pill to swallow.