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Video Games have existed since the late 70s, and since then have had plenty of ups and downs as far as popularity is concerned.

Video Games

General

  • The entire home video game industry was Deader Than Disco in the US and Canada after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Overloaded with options and crappy games, consumers were convinced that consoles were nothing more than a passing fad until Nintendo came along and revitalized the entire industry. Note that the Crash did not affect the market in Asia or Europe and video arcades remained highly profitable.
    • In Europe, the video games industry actually started-up around the time of the Crash in North America, largely thanks to the explosion in popularity of cheap home computers around 1981-82.
  • Arcade games. Up until the sixth generation of consoles, console ports of arcade games were inferior to their arcade counterparts. Nowadays, why pay $1 a game when you can just buy the game for consoles for $60 (or on PSN or XBLA for $10 or $20) and be done with paying for it? To add insult to injury, once these games make it to consoles, they get bashed for having simple gameplay and not being long enough (typically 30-90 minutes).
    • In fact, the arcade business in the United States is pretty much completely dead now because of consoles. For a while, they tried to compete by using expensive hardware to offer unique video game experiences that couldn't be replicated on home consoles -- some of Sega's more ambitious cabinets cost over $10,000 each, for example. It didn't work. Now, pure arcades -- places that aren't part of larger facilities like movie theaters, bowling alleys and amusement parks -- are almost extinct outside of places like boardwalks (On the Jersey Shore, for example, it's still easy to find several arcades within a one-mile stretch of boardwalk. This only proves the rule, though -- boardwalks, by their very nature, are tourist attractions that lure people away from their home consoles for reasons other than gaming.), and shamelessly offer the same stale, beat-up racing and Light Gun Game cabinets from the Turn of the Millennium and earlier (we're looking at you, Time Crisis II and Cruis'n Exotica) amongst other games that could never really be done with home systems like Basketball, Skee Ball, and the occasional Press-your-luck kind of game. This is compounded by the fact that the only companies still releasing new arcade games are Konami, Namco Bandai and Raw Thrills, with even arcade stalwart Midway having left the business to focus on consoles in their final years.
    • Japan's arcades live on, but the age of extreme violence in arcade games is over. However, thanks to game cards that saves your profile in certain games (almost every arcade game worth its salt has a save system now), many of them got a new lease on life.
    • A similar trend is happening with laser tag arcades. Back in the 80s and early 90s, they were the hot new thing, a safer alternative to that paintball thing that kids found fascinating, but was too dangerous to try. Nowadays, the only place in the world that is really still doing it is the US.
    • There is a small resurgence of arcades with Dave and Buster's restaurants. The main appeal seems to be nostalgia for the patrons in their twenties and thirties remembering the hey-day of arcades. Also, free-flowing alcohol. Similar joints like Round 1 are also gaining in.
  • The Beat'Em Up genre used to be a major part of the early game industry, and even managed to survive into the 3D era. Now, however, pure fighting games offer more content for skilled gamers, and Wide Open Sandbox games offer things to do other than punch people in the face. This left traditional brawlers without a niche to define themselves with, and more modern gamers began to see the genre as repetitive and derivative. Hardly any are made anymore, and the few that do (God Hand, MadWorld, No More Heroes) are mostly cult hits at best.
  • Back in the Leap to 3D era, especially on the Nintendo64, a staple of the industry was the collectathon Platform Game, starting with Super Mario 64 and exemplified by Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon. But by the next console generation, the genre was relegated to cheap tie-in titles and series that overstayed their welcome. The reasons aren't certain, though some blame Donkey Kong 64 for breaking the spirits of gamers, with a massive and frankly unreasonable amount of collectables (which seemed to have garnered few complaints back in the day).
    • One exception is the Super Mario Galaxy games, which have been wildly successful despite (or because of?) sticking to the overall format and gameplay established by Super Mario 64.
  • This happened twice in five years with rhythm games. First, in the mid-'00s, Japanese and Korean series like DJMAX and the Bemani games got driven out by Western guitar-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Then, in 2010, guitar-based rhythm games turned out to be a passing fad too, with sales for that year's Guitar Hero and Rock Band installments plunging compared to previous entries (to say nothing of flops like Rock Revolution and Power Gig Rise of the Six String), enough so that the former series was officially pronounced dead. Now, many of those plastic instruments are collecting dust in closets and GameStop storerooms. Many blame the overexposure that Guitar Hero and Rock Band received, with so many Mission Pack Sequels (Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s, Green Day: Rock Band, etc.) being churned out that gamers got sick of it. Currently, dance-based, camera-powered rhythm games, like Dance Central and Just Dance, are popular; time will tell if they go the same way as those that came before.
  • While you might see the occasional one coming from a Manic Shmup company such as CAVE, the Shoot'Em Up industry is getting far fewer entries than it did in the past, and some would say that the ones it does get are often lacking compared to their older counterparts. Most of the titles released now are either remakes of earlier titles or Bullet Hell shooters.
  • FMV games were huge during the early '90s, and were once hailed as the future of gaming. But technology advanced and the genre got a reputation for shovelware (thanks to infamous bombs like Night Trap), and by the end of the decade, developers and customers alike treated the genre as though it had been put on the sex offender registry.
    • The precursor to FMV in the 90s, Laser-Disc arcade games saw a brief explosion in the early-to-mid 80s, with games like Dragon's Lair. Don Bluth, in news footage extolling said game, said in effect "Hollywood is now getting into the interactive business, with writers and actors involved with gaming." The Video Game Crash, plus the high cost maintenance of laser players, saw the genre die out in a few years.
      • By extension, actors in general (not counting voice-overs) in gaming died out in the nineties. In addition to FMV actors, many games featured digitized actors, such as Mortal Kombat. Once consoles entered the sixth generation, digitization was completely phased out for original graphics.
  • Virtual Reality. In the early to mid 90's, this was believed to be the future of video games. However, a combination of the high costs of VR headsets, the failure of Nintendo's Virtual Boy and the rise in popularity of multiplayer gaming (the social aspect of which was difficult to successfully integrate into a VR setting) significantly decreased mainstream interest in the idea. By about 1998, virtual reality was more-or-less forgotten in video games, and is used mainly for scientific purposes (such as medical research).
  • The entire Eastern RPG genre in the West. During the 90s and early 2000s, the genre was viewed as the ultimate video game narrative genre, with awesome storylines that many said rivaled some Hollywood blockbusters. However, sometime during the mid-2000s, with the explosion of Western development teams and the decay of the Japanese industry, the tides changed dramatically. Now it's arguably the most dreaded video game genre, seen as a poison that has been holding video games back as a narrative medium for too long. Though the genre still thrives in Japan, and a small number of titles such as Final Fantasy have managed to keep the genre relevant, it’s a far cry from the days when it ruled the games industry and was the darling of critics.
    • For that matter, the entire Japanese video game industry has seen its once-sterling reputation in the West slowly erode over the past decade. From 1983 up until around 2003-04, Japanese companies like Nintendo, Sega, Square Enix and Capcom were the only real names in video game development, garnering most of the big titles and affection from critics. However, the spread of PC gaming sensibilities into the console market (PC gaming having always been a Western domain), the rise of Western game developers that can produce AAA titles with the best of them, and the slouching Japanese economy mean that Japanese developers have lost their untouchable position. Worst case scenario, they're seen as hopelessly trying to play catch-up with Western developers by keeping their "quirkier" titles from Western shores and tailoring their other games more towards Western sensibilities.
    • It's telling that, despite critical acclaim, it can pretty much become an uphill battle to even get certain JRPGs localized, even in limited release. For example, the games of the Operation Rainfall campaign, such as Xenoblade Chronicles or The Last Story. Both received rave reviews in Japan and Europe, and Xenoblade's run in Europe turned into a surprise commercial success. Unfortunately, selling JRPGs practically became commercial suicide in the US, with the massive backlash against post-XII Final Fantasy games still fresh in people's minds. After a massive word-of-mouth campaign though, both games managed to get release dates in the US, and Xenoblade opened to similarly glowing reviews and surprisingly good pre-order sales.
      • This has thankfully made a turnaround in recent years, with increasing corruption amongst Western, especially North American, publishers (microtransactions, killing their studios, etc, not to mention some particularily bad apples like NetherRealm Studios giving developers PTSD) being a driving factor, along with the fact nearly all major indies are Eastern-inspired, and new Japanese hits like NIER, Danganronpa, and BlazBlue. Not to mention the Nintendo Switch becoming a major hit of a console. In fact, franchises that were once largely exclusive to Japan, such as Puyo Puyo are now once again being imported more often.
  • Pre-rendered graphics enjoyed a day in the limelight from about 1994 to 1996 but is now happily forgotten, being only used in the odd handheld game and even that is exceedingly rare. In retrospect, what was once lauded as the new cutting edge just looks cheap and ugly 90% of the time, especially on with the current generation using consoles capable of far better graphics than could have been pre-rendered at the time.
  • Believe it or not; mobile games were once seen as the wave of the future, and a very real contender in the gaming market. That changed with the advent of microtransactions; and today's mobile games seem more content with selling a business model than a real game. This reputation was sealed when their practices spread to console and PC games, which was part of the resurgence of Japanese gaming.

Specific

  • An in-universe example occurs in the Grand Theft Auto series, where Lazlow goes from being one of the hottest DJs and Radio hosts in America to a washed-up joke who's best known for payola scandals and personal indiscretions, is shilling for the "ZiT!" cellphone app to pay the bills, and gets ridiculed on the street by passerby. Throughout the series, we get to catch up on him at all the points in his career, from his rise (VCS, Vice City) to the peak of his popularity (San Andreas, GTA III) to after his fall (GTA IV).
  • When the original Sonic Adventure was released as a launch title for the Sega Dreamcast, fans and critics raved about its graphics, its amazing sense of speed, its surprisingly complex story, and the joy of finally seeing Sonic the Hedgehog make a Video Game 3D Leap. Over the next few years (with more games being released for the Dreamcast and the launch of the Play Station 2), games with graphics and frame rates that were as good as, if not better than, Sonic Adventure's became the norm, and players began to look past those qualities and find faults in the game, like the overabundance of half-baked gameplay styles for the sake of variety (most notoriously FISHING in a Sonic game, the unreliable camera, and the questionable voice acting quality. Nowadays the game is cited as one of the prime examples of the Polygon Ceiling and the start of a Dork Age for the Sonic franchise. It's telling that the game's Updated Rerelease, which came out a mere four years after the original, received mediocre-to-bad reviews, despite reviews for the original being glowing. However, the game has made a turnaround in recent years, due to a dislike of the increasingly lighter Sonic games of the current era.
    • Sonic Colors has also fallen into this, with criticism for the bad puns, hanging plot threads, and blocky platforming after initial praise. The flaws of the game being excerabated by Lost World didn't help.
  • Backyard Baseball. In the 90s to early 2000s, it was generally hailed as the sports franchise for children. In a few years time, the games were loaded with spotlight stealing celebrity pros, eventually leading to the disappearances of 13 characters. They attempted to make up for this by introducing the character of Joey, but it didn't help at all, as the games continued to sink, quality-wise, with worsening controls, graphics, music, and voice acting. By 2007, the games were recieving 1.0s from certain places. They tried to inject a jolt of life into the franchise with Sandlot Sluggers and Rookie Rush, but that failed too, because even though the pros were removed, the game still had terrible controls, grotesque character designs, and Joey. The franchise's reputation has been completely vaporized into nothing, and it's fate seems sealed. Even a 2015 title for the iOS was ignored by most.
  • Bubsy used to be a well-liked franchise in its heyday, but as increasingly inferior sequels came out, alongside many better options, the games fell out of favor, and by the time of 3D, the series had become a shorthand for abysmal video game mascots. An irony-driven relaunch happened over 20 years after, but people didn't really cling on. Now, he's stuck in the abyss of mobile games.
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