1983

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Bill Loguidice's picture

The Great Videogame Crash - 1983 or 1984? The Final Word.

I just wanted to comment quick on “The Great Videogame Crash” (my personal official designation, along with my preferred use of "videogame" over "video game", just like "bodybuilding" over "body building") and sort of vet my thought process for public discussion and potential disagreement. After spending ~3 years writing the other book on American videogame and computer systems, I came to the conclusion that it has to refer to the year 1984 if a single year needs to be chosen. This was based on a combination of research and personal experience. To put it simply, in 1983, consumers had no real concept that there was something going on behind the scenes. All the consumer saw was increasing stock and lowered prices. Behind the scenes was a different story, with retailers having excess of unsold inventory and diminishing or non-existent profit margins for even good publishers in light of cut-price dreck from their competitors. The classic supply outstripping demand. It wasn’t until 1984 that consumers started to realistically notice there was a problem when less and less new product started appearing on store shelves. That’s why to me, 1984 has to be the year.

Obviously videogames never fully went away in retail or sales channels, but there was a definite slowdown 1984 – 1985. It wasn’t until the limited release of the NES in late 1985 and its wide release in 1986 that retailers started to want to get back full force into videogames and lots of different companies again wanted to cash in. So really, The Great Videogame Crash can be considered from 1983 – 1986 if you want to get technical, but the years where it was felt the most by consumers - who to me are the most important part of the equation - would actually be 1985 and 1986. At least that’s my theory and one I plan on sticking with. And obviously this only applies to North America and specifically the US, as market conditions were very different elsewhere. Also, we can't mention The Great Videogame Crash without also mentioning that the thinking in that 1984 - 85 time period was that low cost computers like the Commodore 64 would more than fill the function or need of consoles that "just" played games. Obviously that wasn't the case and both markets peacefully co-existed for some time. So, what do YOU think?

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