Deader Than Disco: Video Games
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Genres and general trends
Note: Simply being dormant for a certain amount of time does not make a genre or trend Deader Than Disco. For either to be this trope, there needs to be an ongoing backlash from both critics and fans, along with low sales for recent games and a significant decline in the amount of games released that are part of the respective genre or follow the respective trend.
- Just few years after the Trope Namer moment, the entire home video game industry was Deader Than Disco in the United States and Canada after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Particularly affected was Atari, who never really managed to reclaim the glory they once had during the 2600 days, now forgotten today. Overloaded with options and mediocre 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, and video arcades remained highly profitable.
The crash afflicted a part of the industry in Europe, largely thanks to the explosion in popularity of cheap home computers around 1981–82. Before it Germany was the leading figure in the video game industry thanks to the Interton VC 4000. After those computers took off, the console could not compete anymore with the British microcomputers that were released after it and as a result the German scene in the video game industry stood still until 1987, when companies such as Kingsoft, Ariolasoft and Rainbow arts appeared. The UK would also become the leading figure of the European scene in the video game industry.
- Arcade games. Up until the fifth 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 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 boardwalksnote , and usually offer beat-up racing and light gun cabinets from the Turn of the Millennium and earlier (we're looking at you, Time Crisis II and Cruis'n Exotica), along with 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 save 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. And now Japan has the NESiCAxLive digital content delivery service, which allows arcades to download titles instead of having physical hardware shipped, but is limited to arcades in Japan. Rest in peace, arcade import scene.
Traditional arcades are making a minor comeback thanks to the retro gaming craze. Small arcades are often opened by videogame collectors who want to share their collection with the world, offering up vintage arcade cabinets (which, after all, are becoming an increasingly rare novelty) for the paying masses while keeping a good number of TVs and modern consoles around for LAN parties. The result is surprisingly lucrative — not only does it attract random schmoes interested in the arcade games from their youth, it also gives the local fighting game crowd a place to congregate. Arcades might be far and few between, but if you can find a nice small one near you, odds are it'll be packed. Also, several "barcades" have opened up in some major U.S. cities in recent years. As the name implies, a barcade is a bar that also happens to have a collection of classic arcade machines. Customers typically pay a $5 or $10 charge at the door which allows them unlimited use of the games.
It should also note that this is not universal. In places where consoles and PC games are harder to find than arcade cabinets (such as the Isle of Wight) arcade gaming still is a huge thing.
- A similar trend is happening with laser tag arcades. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, 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 United States.
- 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, Asura's Wrath) are mostly cult hits at best.
- Back in the Leap to 3D era, especially on the Nintendo 64, 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 — even the acclaimed Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy moved away from this style of gameplay after its first installment. 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 collectibles (which seemed to have garnered few complaints back in the day). In fact, when the Guest Grumps had him on their show, Grant Kirkhope said that one of the reasons for the jarring Genre Shift in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was because they thought nobody was interested in 3D-platformers anymore. Sort of ironic really, given the fanbase's reaction.
One exception is Super Mario Galaxy series and other 3D Mario games, which have been wildly successful despite (or because of?) sticking to the overall format and gameplay established by Super Mario 64. The only real difference is that most modern 3-D Mario games have you go on a singular course towards a goal, like 2-D Mario games, rather then encourage exploration like other 3-D platformers.
- This happened twice in five years with rhythm games. First, circa 2005, 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 instalments plunging compared to previous entries (to say nothing of flops like Rock Revolution and Power Gig), enough so that the Guitar Hero series was killed off and Harmonix (developer of Rock Band) was sold for just $50.note 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, Western dance-based rhythm games, like Dance Central (made by Harmonix) 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. It probably says something about the state of the genre when Touhou, one of the most popular Bullet Hell series in recent years, is more known for its characters, music, and memes rather than its actual gameplay.
- 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 1990s, Laser-Disc arcade games saw a brief explosion in the early-to-mid 80s, with games like Dragons 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.
- Virtual Reality. In the early to mid-1990s, 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) and Totally Radical jokes about The Nineties. Time will tell if the Oculus Rift system is able to revive VR; while it isn't out yet, it has received a lot of hype from its Kickstarter campaign and its modern technology, and has received endorsements from the likes of John D. Carmack (who is currently the company's Chief Technology Officer), Cliff Bleszinsky, and Gabe Newell.
- In certain parts of the world video game industries were huge only to erode right after.
- 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, Squaresoft, and Capcom were the only real names in home console 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. That said, though, Japanese fighting games and JRPG titles have seen a resurgence in recent years, preventing the industry from at least going all the way.
- The video game industry in Western Europe was huge during the Commodore 64 era. Due to how accessible programming was at the time anyone with legit enterprising capabilities started becoming a video game company. It is already true that in the Amiga era many of those shut down but it was also around that time that many of those companies could still live on because of their care of quality that kept their sales high. By that point a few companies such as Virgin Interactive were also real names in the console market, only to crash during the PS1 era because they could not afford the engines. Nowadays the only Western European companies left are Ubisoft, Codemasters, Infogrames (now Atari), System 3 and Eutechnyx.
- Digitized Sprites (sprites made up of scanned images rather than bitmaps) enjoyed a day in the limelight from about 1992note to 1996 but are now happily forgotten, being only used in the odd handheld game, and even that is exceedingly rare now. Pre-rendered sprites (sprites made up of scanned images produced by external 3D rendering software), especially, are largely a thing of the past now. In retrospect, what was once lauded as the new cutting edge just looks cheap and ugly 90% of the time, especially with the current generation using consoles capable of far better graphics than could have been pre-rendered at the timenote . DVD storage limits also preclude high definition FMV to match the HD capabilities of today's consoles.
Using pre-rendered shadows and lighting information with regular 3D graphics, however, has averted this fate for a long time due to processing power limitations preventing large-scale levels from being fully dynamically lighted. However, recent releases (with Crysis being one of the first) are now computing all lighting dynamically, thus allowing for new lighting techniques and faster development workflows. While one might assume pre-rendered lighting will become Deader Than Disco soon, the advent of mobile platforms and increasing attention to low-end platforms are keeping it relevant.
- Space Combat oriented games: Once a staple of videogames, Star Raiders being the most commonly imitated version of the genre, itself being a Spiritual Successor to the mainframe text-based Star Trek game from the 1970s. Most science fiction oriented games, such as Mass Effect, are now heavily character-oriented (as opposed to spaceship oriented) and have a distinct story-mission format identical to games such as Call of Duty. Gratuitous Space Battles may be a rare remnant of this genre. The genre may be making a comeback, with Elite: Dangerous, No Man's Sky, and Star Citizen all being released recently or soon to be released. However, these games seem to focus more on trading and exploration rather than straight-up combat.
- Video game Box Art: The 1980s spawned many memorable box art covers for their game cartridges. They did not usually accurately depict the gameplay itself but were excellent at depicting the concept of the game. This was necessary due to the primitive graphics at the time. In comparison, today's game covers are generally laid out like a movie poster.
- By proxy, video game instruction manuals have mostly faded out in favor of in game tutorials and giving players the option to customize their control schemes. Manuals that exist today are barely five pages long, compared to manuals for games decades back that were filled with more detailed demonstration of the controls, info on items and power ups, and more. Developers seemed to have taken notice that most players don't bother reading the instructions and like to jump into the game right away while figuring out how to play on their own, which explains why most games today have in-game manuals and tutorial modes/levels and pop-up instructions on how the controls work. The comparison between the Nintendo DS and 3DS is glaring in that regard. And when you do get a manual at all, it's usually in black and white unless it's a first- or second-party title. Sadly, this seems to be on the game publisher's part, as it all too often looks like the manual was designed in color, then greyscaled. Back in the days of the Nintendo 64, almost all games came with full-color manuals. Today, having to read a manual just to understand the game's basic story seems inconceivable, by contrast to the All There in the Manual approach of the NES era.
- Until the fifth generation, games typically came in bulky cardboard boxes. Computer games, in particular, came in ridiculously huge boxes due to how many discs they needed and how large many of their instruction manuals were (see above). This started to change around mid-1996, when the PlayStation began using CD jewel cases for its games rather than the huge cardboard boxes it was using during its first year or so on the market. By about 2001 (when the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 had been more-or-less phased out), computer games were the only kinds of games that still came in cardboard boxes.note Even then, over the course of the decade, computer game boxes were gradually replaced with the far more efficient DVD casing of modern console games. Today, barring a few "collector's edition" games, cardboard boxes are very rare in video games.
- The internet has, for the most part, killed video game print magazines. The only mainstream magazine that remains is Game Informer, and a good chunk of its circulation comes from the fact that its parent company, GameStop, includes a subscription with every membership. The others either died a long time ago (Game Fan, Game Players, Incite, etc.) or, in the case of GamePro, died within the last several years. Even the venerable Nintendo Power shut down at the end of 2012 after being in circulation for 24 years, being one of the longest circulating gaming magazines in the market. It is however worth noting that at the same time video game magazines about computer archeology and retro gaming are on the rise, proving that video game print magazines are not dead yet. The rise of the internet had also killed off strategy guides and gaming tips hotlines. With the ease of use of going online to find help for a game, there's little need to have a physical book telling you where to go or calling a private company for hints. Strategy guides have moved upmarket to survive, becoming special edition items that are often hardbound.
- Interactive Fiction, also known as Text Adventures, as popularized by Zork and the rest of the Infocom line, Infocom being the standard by which all text adventures were measured. By the beginning of The Nineties, more powerful computers meant better graphics, which meant the end of text oriented games. There is a sizable hobbyist community around interactive fiction, but a significant amount of them are more literary than adventure oriented, while the genre in general is heavily associated with Guide Dang It as a result of Combinatorial Explosions.
- Futuristic racing games seem to have lost a lot of (pun not intended) steam over the last decade. Today, Wipeout appears to be the only franchise that's still going strong. Competing franchises, such as Extreme-G and even F-Zero, have been neglected this generation. This can no doubt be attributed to a saturation of such games during the late 1990s and the waning popularity of the fast paced electronica music that typically permeated them (except for F-Zero, which generally used guitar-driven rock and heavy metal).
- Funnily enough, electronic music (through the popularity of Dubstep, which itself features slower tempos than usual) has made a comeback. Sadly, Wipeout has not, with Studio Liverpool being closed down and the franchise presumed dead, despite the recent resurgence in electronic music that hopefully would have given Wipeout a second change at relevancy.
- Extreme Sports games appeared to be this after Tony Hawk Ride flopped in 2009. They appear to be picking up a second wind, with such games as 2012's SSX and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD garnering positive reviews and strong sales, but it's too soon to tell whether it will be a lasting trend.
- Video game consoles during the Useful Notes/N64/PlayStation era had memory cards that allowed gamers to store save data and carry them over to another console so they can pick up where they left off. By the seventh generation (Wii/Playstation 3/Xbox 360), consoles dropped the branded memory cards in favor of universal memory format, namely SD cards and USB sticks. The consoles also support internal saving via hard drives, further eliminating the need for a specific memory card.
- For that matter, "Password Systems" (where, after reaching a certain "checkpoint", the game would give you a password to enter the next time you played, so that you could continue from that checkpoint) slowly died out during that same generation. Not only did memory cards (and later HDDs) become popular, but video games became far too complex for password systems to remain convenient. Passwords also faded away due to (back then) cartridge based games having cheaper batteries to save data on. Strangely, early Playstation games also used a password feature, despite memory cards being available, but it was also likely that developers wanted to give players an alternate way to continue their progress if early adopters didn't get a memory card yet.
- High scores were a major part of video games and were widely known for being in arcade cabinet games. The NES and SNES had tons of games that used a scoring system. Some games rewarded players extra lives for reaching certain milestones in their score while other games used scores just for bragging rights. The concept of high scores was quickly dropped by the fifth generation (N64/Playstation) and very few games today still use a scoring system since most games now favor a ranking system instead.
- However, scores are still a pretty big factor in the Shoot em Up genre, with score chasers competing in online leaderboards.
- Lives and continues were also a common element in the early days of video games and most games were Nintendo Hard because of limited lives and limited chances in earning more. The concept of lives and continues is rarely practiced today due to developers favoring the use of checkpoints and due to Game Overs being a Classic Video Game Screw You. Even the concept of a Game Over has all but been forgotten; it's generally easier and more convenient for the player to suffer a small penalty for failure and simply reload his last save/checkpoint instead of going through a game over sequence.
- Renting (and possibly borrowing) video games are slowly becoming a thing of the past due to developers making add-ons, DLC, or other bonuses that only an owner of the game can get while someone who is renting the game would be locked out of the extra content. Game demo downloads becoming console mainstays (until the seventh generation, they were mostly relegated to PC gaming) certainly doesn't help matters.
- Cheat codes have been largely phased out of mainstream game development, now mostly appearing in retro-styled games attempting to hearken back to the early days of gaming. This can probably be attributed to the rise in networked multiplayer gaming necessitating companies to level the playing field by discouraging cheating (and banning players who do it). Another factor could be achievement-based gaming (i.e. cheats being "earned" after performing certain feats in-game), along with DLC allowing players to purchase cheats and extra characters/stages, eliminating the feasibility of entering a convoluted button or password sequence.
The only games that may employ cheat codes today are single-player games on PC, where they are more likely to be called "console commands".
- With advancements in wireless technology, wired controllers on game consoles are slowly becoming a thing of the past as wireless controllers are quickly becoming the norm, thanks to reducing clutter and operating on rechargeable batteries.
- Contrary to popular belief, in-house video game soundtracks have not become this (except maybe in sports and racing video games). However, the MIDI format of video game music certainly has. The format began with the third generation of gaming consolesnote , eventually making its way onto personal computers with the advent of sound cards. In fact, until the rise of the CD-ROM format, it was the only way legitimate music could be composed for a video game, as cartridges and floppy disks did not have the storage capacity for off-disk music streaming. Later, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System became the first gaming console to use a wavetable sound system, meaning it used real-life instrument samples for its MIDI playback rather than discretely-played electronic sounds. Not long after, personal computers followed suit with the advent of wavetable sound cards like the Soundblaster AWE32.
MIDI music began a gradual decline once the CD-ROM format took off. Because of the much larger storage capacity of CD's, game developers could simply stream pre-recorded music off the disk, which even in the days of wavetable synthesis, resulted in richer and more believable soundtracks. While MIDI remained popular well into the Fifth Generation of gaming consoles (particularly with role-playing games, where the larger amount of game data made fully-orchestrated music too memory intensive and costly), it lost a significant amount of steam during the Sixth Generation. By the Seventh Generation of gaming consoles, the format was very rarely used (it had already been almost completely phased out of computer gaming by about 1997). Today, video games (except for freeware doujin games with very small file sizes) almost exclusively use pre-recorded music. And, chances are, most people don't even know whether their computer soundcards are capable of MIDI playback. Even Nintendo, who was probably the only mainstream game developer still using the format well into the seventh generation, has been slowly moving away from it.
- The survival horror genre has, ironically, become deader than the zombies that are in the games. The early days of survival horror had elements like the player having limited supplies and monsters that were difficult to attack or get away from. Most games nowadays focus more on intense action that has zombies or other monsters you can easily mow down by the hundreds. Even Resident Evil, the franchise that catapulted the survival horror genre for video games, buckled to the popularity of intense action shooters and was met with mixed results. Indie games in The New Tens have tried to revive the genre with mixed results from fans, while critics have blasted these games for oversaturating the market with nothing but survival horror games that don't do anything different.
- Zombies in general have also fallen victim to the trope. Once seen as terrifying to encounter while you had limited abilities, zombies nowadays are nothing more than minor obstacles for your overpowered shotgun to take care of and some games have modes dedicated to killing zombies all day long, even though zombies are not part of the game's main appeal. What was once a popular element extension is now usually lambasted for being overused. For an added dose of irony, a lot of games (and films by extension) that had zombies in them were supposed to represent the rabidness of consumerism; consume products, never produce anything of your own worth, and always following whatever trend's popular while buying into them like blind and staggering drones. Any movie or game that has zombies in them are quickly eaten up by the masses because there are zombies.
- Turn based RPG games are barely alive in today's time compared to the 1990s where they were kings of the RPG genre. What was once considered fun and engaging to be in turn based battles is now seen as extremely clunky and slow. Certain franchises, like Pokémon, are an exception. For other games like Final Fantasy, they ditched the turn based mechanics for more action intensity.
- The Multiple Endings trope were once prevalent in video games and the idea of seeing more than one ending tempted players to play the game over again to see a different ending or two. Thanks to the internet, one can easily beat the game once and go on YouTube to see the rest without playing the game over again. With the exception of RPGs, multiple endings have been cut down in favor of having a more defined ending, including ones that set up a Sequel Hook so that the developers can start working on a sequel. The latter exception isn't going anywhere, though: Karma Meters and moral choices have become entrenched in the genre, and some form of Story Branching is practically necessary to reinforce the idea that the player's choices matter.
- Cheating devices (add-ons you plug into your console or handheld) that let you play games with cheats like infinite lives or invincibility were extremely common in the early days of gaming (and were also the source of a many Game-Breaking Bug when cheats were done wrong). Once gaming systems started to go online where developers could push out patches, cheating devices were dead due to said developers being able to disable 3rd party accessories that allowed players to cheat. However, the motion was also about stopping devices that would allow people to do things like run homebrew games/programs since many people use those to pirate games. Nintendo in particular adamantly battles devices on their present consoles because they're frequently used to cheat in online multiplayer modes, such as, notoriously, in Pokémon. Oddly, though, they've left homebrew on the Wii (and, especially surprisingly, Wii Mode on the Wii U) alone during the last few years of its life despite combating against it before, and it's gained a niche market as the only customizable console.
- The Rail Shooter and its close cousin, the Light Gun Game. A combination of the collapse of the arcade industry (where such games were hugely successful), the difficulty of replicating the gameplay on a controller, and the rise of complex first- and third-person shooters in the '00s has rendered such games obsolete, seen as a rigid, stifling relic, and the genres are now largely found in budget titles. When a game today does feature an on-rails or turret-based sequence, it will be criticized for taking control away from the player.
- A contributing factor is likely the conversion to flatscreen televisions. Cathode-ray televisions all display the same way, but current televisions have wildly different refresh rates, interlacing, and being LCD or plasma. One of the methods lightguns can use to determine placement is by whiting the screen and having the photo-receptive diode in the gun register how many milliseconds it takes for the interlacing to white where it is pointed. With old televisions, this would be a known constant and visible to the naked eye as a screen flash. Newer televisions are capable of various faster refresh rates and are generally less than six millisecondsnote .
- When video games went onto CD and DVD formats, it wasn't surprising to see large games requiring multiple discs and the game prompting the player to swap discs when it was time to load assets and event flags on the next disc. With Blu-ray becoming the norm by having a ton of disc space to work with (thanks to the PlayStation 3 making it feasible), the idea of swapping discs during game time is almost unheard of by people who didn't grow up with the concept. Early PC games were also subjected to disc swapping until advancements in hard drive storage and internet download speeds improved to the point where you don't need to worry about swapping out discs.
- Motion controls were once held as the next revolution in gaming, much like the analog stick. When Nintendo unveiled the Wii it became an overnight craze due to how amazing motion controls seemed at the time. For that alone, it sold like nuclear hotcakes and quickly outpaced the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as the best-selling console of the Seventh Generation. Will Wright even famously stated that the Wii was the only true next-gen console for introducing a new way to play video games, rather than just improving graphics.
By The New Tens however, motion controls lost much of its luster. The general consensus was that they were largely a gimmick that failed to produce any real quality games. The market became over-saturated with shovelware motion control games that tried to capitalize on its popularity. It didn't help that Microsoft and Sony made motion controls of their own, causing the shovelware to pour onto their consoles. By the Eighth Generation, motion controls became all but dead. Most developers completely avoid putting motion controls in their games, while games that functioned almost entirely on motion controls are almost completely dead (Just Dance seems to be the only survivor). Even Nintendo tried to market the Wii U by significantly downplaying the presence of its motion controls in favor of controller-based gaming. However, what really drove home the fact that motion controls are dead was when Microsoft released a Kinect-less SKU of the Xbox One and saw more than double their sales afterwards. While retirement homes worldwide will still use the Wii for some time to come, the idea that motion controls are the "next revolution in gaming" is completely laughable today.
- Certain plot elements in video games have either changed over the years or have been abolished entirely. In the early days of gaming, most plots were either Saving the World or Save the Princess, which served as nothing more than an Excuse Plot so that the player has something to keep himself busy. Nowadays, plots that rely on saving the world are much more complex and, depending on the story, may come with more complications than the characters first realized. Plots involving saving a princess (or any Damsel in Distress for that matter) are now typically used as a secondary plot that drives the main plot. The Super Mario Bros. series still plays the princess-saving trope completely straight due to the Grandfather Clause, though sometimes the games may change things up a bit to keep it interesting.
- Local multiplayer has been shunted to the wayside thanks to the quick advancements of online gaming. While local multiplayer in a room with friends was the main appeal behind it, online gaming quickly showed just how flawed local play was; you need to have everyone in the same room in order to play with you, which meant that unless you were kids or teenagers with a lot of free time, you'd have a difficult time trying to sync everyone's personal schedules together to get a day of gaming going while everyone playing also needed their own controller, which can add up quite a bit since controllers are never cheap. Local play can also be quite taxing on the game since it has to render multiple screens at the same time for each player, which also means that certain things in the game have to be changed to make sure that the game itself doesn't choke (less polygons, omitting certain objects for rendering, etc). With online play, the only thing the developers have to worry about is internet connections and syncing. There are however still local multiplayer games, but they are rare and mainly exist because of a niche group who has friends and free time and still wants to play games together when the servers shut down.
- Grinding in most MMORPGs have been eased a lot due to the shift of player demographics; players that once had the ability to spend a ton of time grinding and doing everything in quests are now older and don't have as much free time to spare. Likewise, young players in today's time have many other games competing for their attention, so a game that forces someone to grind for a long time to get any progression would be seen as a negative trait.
- Final Fantasy XIV is a big example of almost succumbing to the trope. When the game was first released (1.0 to 1.23), it had many elements that were designed to keep players running the treadmill grind in a way similar to Final Fantasy XI. While the long grinds wasn't the sole factor in the game's massive flop, long grinding was one of the reasons people looked at the game in a negative light. It wasn't until the development team was replaced with a new team that the game got redesigned from scratch and became A Realm Reborn (2.0) with the concept of aiming for a more general audience that don't wish to force themselves to dedicate weeks or months of progression just to advance.
- Around the turn of the millennium, graphing calculator games (i.e., video games you could play on a Texas Instruments brand graphing calculator such as the TI-86) were very popular among high school and college students. Needless to say, the rise in cell phone gaming (first with flip phones and later with smart phones), abruptly put an end to this trend.
- The flight simulator genre in the computer gaming industry is dead. A good proof of this would be the fact that Microsoft's Flight Simulator series, which was later in its life bundled as an extra with every computer that they sold, still got shut down by the company. This can likely be attributed to two major reasons.
- Flight Simulators require lots of buttons because there are lots of buttons needed to control a plane, too. The fact that nowadays many people who play on PC have gaming controllers in their hands just shows that the people who play PC games will likely be annoyed by the fact that there are way more buttons to use than those that ever could be programmed into a controller.
- Over the years, competition drove flight simulators to be more accurate, realistic and detailed. This has led to the most recent flight simulators being so perfect that any other potential flight simulators that could ever hit the market just can not have lots of success due to the fact that there are already special devices that are made specifically to look like the equipment of a plane in the most recent ones and the fact that you can not truly make the graphics of a plane, air, clouds or landings place more realistic than it already is.
- Eastern RPGs are often accused of being Deader Than Disco by critics and gaming industry executives, which is becoming something of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. There are too many grand old cash cow franchises in the genre for it to properly kick off, and those franchises are still going strong, but new entries in the genre have slowed to a trickle, operate under vastly reduced budgets (or are developed as indie games), and are at best cult classics and at worst outright flops.
- Modern military shooters were huge after the breakthrough smash of Call Of Duty 4 Modern Warfare and ruled over most of The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games. Largely due to the fact that they were a place where most people would socially interact with each other. But just before the eighth generation hit, they started to suffer a decline due to the fact that the market that used to play those games has moved away from it with the releases of smartphones and tablets (which allow for way more social interaction). The massive over saturation, unrelated games being saddled with their mechanics to try and Follow the Leader, heaps of Unfortunate Implications, and the release of more thoughtful and deconstructive shooters like Bioshock Infinite and Spec Ops: The Line, as well as the successes of recent old school-style shooters such as Wolfenstein: The New Order and Shadow Warrior (2013), also made all the hopes that another audience would be attracted by them obsolete. The death of the Medal of Honor franchise, which helped codify most of the tropes that served as staples of the genre, was also a large loss. Even the two titans of the genre, Call of Duty and Battlefield, have begun to move away from the formula. It still exists but most would only be cult hits by modern standards.
- The whole concept of The (Popular Video Game) Killer has become a mockery within the console gaming community. While one could argue the idea began with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis, it didn't really become a trend until the Fifth Generation of console gaming when the Nintendo 64 was gearing up for launch. Super Mario 64 was the system's flagship game, and both Sega and Sony were prepping suitable Mario 64 Killers to crash the game's inevitable success. While both company's games were successful in their own right, neither made a significant dent in Mario 64's fanfare and popularity. Nonetheless, this started an ongoing trend where any holiday blockbuster would have a corresponding "killer" from a rival company (for another fifth generation example, see Brave Fencer Musashi - Sony's supposed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time killer). This trend really began to dwindle during the Seventh Generation, thanks to the rise in cross platform games and the historical failure of most "(Popular Video Game) Killers" to match the games they were trying to upstage. Today, the term is seen as a red flag when used, and almost no self respecting game company hypes their games as such anymore.
Likewise, console game companies in the 1990s and 2000s would take potshots at each other ("Genesis does what Nintendon't" for example) in a way similar to two politicians mudslinging each other to gain votes. Nowadays, game companies rarely insult each other and any jabs that are made are done in a light hearted manner. While some people in game studios still sling insults at their rivals/rival games, those that do are usually met with scorn by the gaming community for looking immature. This tactic is however still frequently employed by PC gaming companies who are much less willing to make console-releases of their games. Star Citizen, a game that has become infamous for its developer, who has stated multiple times that the game will prove to everyone that PC gaming is better than console gaming, is the most funded thing ever on Kickstarter.
- Graphical adventure games were hugely popular from the '80s through the mid-90s, but as happened to text adventures, technological changes made them obsolete. The advent of 3D cards and other game genres getting good writing were the beginning of the end for companies like Sierra and LucasArts. LucasArts distanced itself from the genre early on, focusing on Star Wars games, while Sierra effectively collapsed, trading hands from Vivendi to Activision. While the games do have cult followings, they're mostly mocked for their glacial pacing and convoluted puzzles. Even though they're staples of GOG.com and indie developers are still making them, adventure games seem unlikely to return to their former glory. Indie adventure game developers, like their interactive fiction hobbyist counterparts, focus more on the story than the puzzles.
- 3D Fighting Games have seen themselves lose much preference with the Fighter Community. With Street Fighter IV winning back the crowd with fans and critics alike for traditional fighting games, more fighting games would then follow their lead. Not helping matters is that the Soul Seriesnote , once considered the standard of 3D fighters, suffered this very fate.
- Nintendo Hard games have gone extinct while the ones that remain are niche at best. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, many games were made to be as difficult as possible for several reasons; arcade games were designed to suck out money from players who wanted to beat the game and for those types of players, they would gladly keep feeding the machine more quarters just to get another chance to reach the ending. When home video games began to take off, developers needed a way to ensure that players got the most bang for their $50+. Because video game cartridges/floppies/whatever didn't have a massive amount of storage space, they couldn't bank on a game's length (or post-game longitivity) like they can today. So the best way to compensate for this was to make their games as difficult as possible. When rental stores became popular, people that played video games could save a lot of money by just renting a game for the weekend instead of paying full price for a copy of the game. Developers that wanted to prevent people from only renting games would make their games brutally difficult so that the player would either rent the game multiple times (sometimes to the point of paying beyond what a new game would cost) or just buy the game outright, which would also get the game studio profits. The trend started phasing out during the fourth/fifth generation of video games when video games could have more length and needed to appeal to the children demographic (the biggest demographic at that time) and the more narratively obsessed adult demographic (one of the biggest demographics on the PS1) that required the creation of easy games, but was gradually re-interned into the sixth generation of video games when that generation of gamers became more and more hardcore. In the seventh generation of video games however those types of games started fading out thanks to tactics that render the practice of renting games useless, the rise of the casual gaming market that demanded way easier games and the AAA industry wanting to appeal to an as big demographic as possible forced many video game developers to move out of the Nintendo Hard mindset at the time. Nowadays it is quite possible to get re-introduced once again thanks to the fact that many casual gamers have moved over to smartphones and tablets and that the hardcore audience of the gaming market is still intact and more profitable than ever before, but we still have to see how the reintroductions to the genre (such as bloodborne) are faring to decide whether or not it will keep on the list.
- Arcade-styled sports games are dead in the water now. While they were very popular in the 80's, they really struck gold in 1993 with the release of NBA Jam. In addition to being arguably the first example of a basketball video game done right, the game was famous for its fast-paced gameplay, over-the-top dunks and downright hilarious announcer. After NBA Jam, sports games emphasizing over-the-top gameplay over realism exploded, with NFL Blitz, Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey, and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball becoming hugely popular.
Unfortunately, around the turn of the millennium, arcade-styled sports games slowly faded from the limelight. The two most important reasons for this were the decline of the arcade industry (see above) and an increased emphasis on realism in video games. Thanks to the many strides made with computing technology and game development, it was now possible to accurately represent the rules of football, baseball, basketball, etc. without compromising fun. It didn't help that, around this same time, franchises like NFL Blitz and especially NBA Jam took a major nosedive in quality due to some nasty Executive Meddling. Throughout the aughts, simulation games like Madden NFL and NB A2k became the dominant forces in sports video games. And simpler, arcade-like sports games were slowly phased out. While NBA Jam and NFL Blitz did see successful revivals during The New Tens (in the form of downloadable games), there has been no sign of a full-fledged revival for fast paced arcade-styled sports games.
- Hard though it may be to believe, hunting simulations were actually a trend in the late-90's. It all started in early 1998, when the WizardWorks-published Deer Hunter became an unexpected bestseller. Afterwards, a slew of other hunting sims such as Cabela's Big Game Hunter by Head Games (yes, the same Head Games that later brought us the notoriously awful Extreme PaintBrawl) started coming out of the woodwork. They were predictably hated by critics and hardcore gamers but were massive hits with casual gamers (particularly outdoorsmen), thanks in no small part to their simple pick-up-and-play gameplay and incredibly low price tags.
Naturally, hunting simulations died once the audience that was originally drawn to them moved on to other things. Many people bought Deer Hunter as a novelty but quickly tired of it. And, since hunting sims had little appeal within the hardcore gaming community, they essentially had nowhere to go once their core audience grew bored with them. Today, barring the occasional smartphone or free-to-play flash game (as well as some arcade cabinets at various sporting goods stores), hunting simulations are virtually non-existent. And it's pretty safe to say that most of the gaming community would like to forget that they were ever a thing to begin with.
- Excessively and pointlessly vulgar (and often overtly-hateful) romhacks, once a semi-common sight throughout the late nineties to the mid-'00s, appear to have died out completely (or simply don't get the reactions they used to), perhaps due to their creators eventually maturing out of the mindset that would have found those hacks amusing.
Specific games and series
- The jury is still out whether Prince of Persia is dead or simply "on pause" as the CEO of Ubisoft claims. The reboot wasn't truly bad, but Ubisoft hasn't done anything with it since 2008, focusing more on Assassin's Creed, Watch_Dogs, and Far Cry.note
- In the late-90's, Duke Nukem was quite possibly the coolest video game heronote in existence. Duke Nukem 3D was seen as a landmark shooter, not just for its at-the-time awe-inspiring sense of freedom, but for the wisecracking, steroid-pumped, babe-magnet that was Duke himself. And anticipation for his follow-up game Duke Nukem Forever was through the roof.
Unfortunately, the Duke's time in the spotlight would not last long. Duke Forever had a notoriously long and chaotic development history (detailed here), with the final game not being released until more than 14 years after it was announced. Unfortunately, when it was finally released, it was a dud. Not just for its clunky gameplay and half-baked ideas, but also for falling victim to Society Marches On. What was once seen as possibly the coolest protagonist in all of gaming was now seen as a racist, misogynistic pervert. Gearbox (the company that finally finished and released the game) vehemently defended the game, saying that players simply didn't get its humor. However, the general consensus was that the game's "humor" fell horribly flat, especially in the wake of games like the Grand Theft Auto series that managed to be just as edgy and humorous but more tasteful. While there has been talk of a possible franchise reboot, it's more likely that Duke Nukem Forever will (ironically enough) be the last game where he'll be seen.
- At one point, the Soul series was seen as one of the best and most respectable fighters on the market, with the second game seen as one of the greatest games of all time and a Killer App for the Sega Dreamcast. The series went on to produce three more sequels; while IV was intended to be last game in the series, fans petitioned for SoulCalibur V to be made and Tekken boss Katsuhiro Harada put in a good word for his friend Daishi Odashima to allow him to develop it.
When V was finally released, however, it met with significant backlash from its fans. Often-cited complaints include the decision to do a 17-year Time Skip that only three returning characters actually aged from (namely Mitsurugi, Hilde, and Siegfried), replacing fan-favorite, stalwart characters such as Taki, Sophitia, and Xianghua with poorly explained anime rip-offs, and a story focused only on Patroklos and Pyrrha Alexandra (Sophitia's kids), who many view as designated heroes with heavy amounts of Incest Subtext. The game itself had little content to offer outside of basic fights and character customization, and the character balance was often an issue, with characters like Xiba, Natsu, and Nightmare being extremely overpowered while characters like Z.W.E.I. were extremely underpowered. The main people who liked the game were the online crowd, but even they are dwindling now that Major League Gaming (the main demographic they were trying to appeal to) has dropped the game. To date, V has only sold about half as many copies as IV, and that was only after the poor sales forced Namco to drop the price down to a quarter of full price new. Suffice to say, the fate of this series is all but uncertain.
After the release and subsequent failure of V, Daishi Odashima left Project Soul and was subsequently replaced by Masaki Hoshino. The series fell even further in the public eye, releasing three spin-offs in less than a year; all of which being of poor quality.
- The first is Soulcalibur II: HD Online, with HD graphics that barely look any different from the original, an online mode that is laggy and hardly functional, Japanese voices that were removed for no explicable reason (forcing everyone to listen to the awful, poorly-aged English voice acting), characters moves that flat-out broke the game, and no Wii U version which meant no Link, alienating a portion of the SCII's original player base.
- The second is Soulcalibur: Lost Swords, a PlayStation 3 exclusive Free-to-Play game with always-online DRM preventing the game from being played offline, despite being a single-player only fighting game, with long and frequent load-times and numerous Microtransactions shoved in your face to keep playing a game that's shallow and repetitive, every character's moveset being stripped-down to the bare bones for a shallow experience, and the complete removal of ring-outs. While characters that were removed from V such as Sophitia and Taki return, it comes off as more of way to entice people to play the poorly-made game. Not helping its reputation was the sheer amount of fanservice costumes that verge on softcore pornography, hurting its already damaged reputation by adding the stigma of being a shallow Panty Fighter.
- Last but not least is Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul, a Free-to-Play mobile game in the vein of Tekken Card Tournament. The game is even more shallow than Lost Swords, where you press touch-screen "cards" to do random moves on the screen while fighting in random arenas. The programming is so basic that it could have been done by an amateur group of college students. Most people who played the game couldn't even make it past the the first boss, and the game was so poorly made and filled with Microtransactions that most gamers didn't feel like it was worth playing any further. Service for the game was terminated in December, merely eight months after release, and nobody even noticed.
After these three spin-offs in the place of the much desired Soulcalibur VI, some people are already starting to declare the death of Soulcalibur. Only time will tell if a Soulcalibur VI is ever released, and if it will redeem the series in gamers' eyes. Now, whenever Soulcalibur is brought up, it's often used as an example of how a series can fall from greatness.
- When it was first released, State Of Emergency was hailed as a good, if not great, sister game to Grand Theft Auto (both were published by Rockstar Games). Like GTA, it managed to spark up a similar amount of controversy due to its graphic violence, depictions of mass murder, and a story revolving around rioting and a revolution against a big-business oligarchy in a manner reminiscent of the 1999 Seattle WTO protests. Nowadays, it's more or less forgotten and takes up a lot of space in bargain bins, due to its clunky controls, the release of better sandbox games, the violence today being considered cartoonish compared to more realistic games made since, and a forgettable sequel released years too late that wasn't from either the original developer or publisher.
- Originally, Driver and its sequel were seen as a revolution in gaming in that they were (together with Body Harvest and Ocarina of Time) some of the first games to let you openly explore a 3D environment, pre-dating the Grand Theft Auto series in this regard. Nowadays, the Driver series has a cult following at best due to the third game onwards following in the footsteps of the GTA series, with mixed results. Though in 2011 Driver: San Francisco was release to better acclaim then the previous few titles. So while the series may not be going away just yet, nowadays Driver is no longer seen as the groundbreaking title that it was early on, with the Saints Row series taking up the mantel of being GTA's rival.
- Clayfighter was one of the more popular street fighting games of the fourth generation, ironically just as much with parents as with children, for being a more cartoonish, less gory take on the traditional street fighting games of that era. Unfortunately, the series lost a number of fans with Clayfighter 2: Judgment Clay for the game's darker tone and omission of fan-favorite fighters like Blue Suede Goo. When the anticipated N64 sequel Clayfighter 63⅓ was finally released after a rather troubled development history, it was an unfinished mess with choppy animation, utterly broken gameplay, and the same dark tone people complained about with C2 (plus, still no Blue Suede Goo!). The game was so broken, in fact, that six months later a rental-only update that addressed some (but certainly not all) of the game's problems was released. Meanwhile, a PlayStation version titled Clayfighter X-treme was almost finished but cancelled at the last minute. The series, including the once-popular original, is now seen as Snark Bait by those old enough to remember it, and despite a rumored WiiWare sequel that never materialized, it's unlikely to ever make a comeback.
- When the first Turok game released on the Nintendo 64, it was lauded for its then-lush graphics and solid first-person shooting gameplay. Unfortunately, when GoldenEye (1997) was released and wowed everybody with its perfectly intuitive control scheme, stellar objective-based single player campaign, and amazing multiplayer mode, the flaws of the original Turok (namely its bizarre C-button dominated control scheme, confusing "collectathon" gameplay, and lack of multiplayer) became much less forgivable. While Turok 2: Seeds Of Evil was highly regarded upon release (though probably more for its at-the-time eye popping graphics than gameplay), Turok 3: Shadow Of Oblivion was largely ignored, thanks in no small part to the fact that it was released a mere three months after Perfect Dark. The fourth main game, Turok Evolution received mixed reviews and underperformed in sales. After the underwhelming commercial performance of the 2008 Turok reboot, it's not too likely the series will return.
- When it was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Deadly Towers was hailed as a revolutionary title for its varied exploration for its time; as it was one of the first RPGs on NES. Decades later, between the game's cheap nature, confusing design, and the fact that better RPGs were available not long after, it now shows up regularly on lists of the worst NES games ever.
- Battle Arena Toshinden was considered a Killer App at the time of its release due to it being one of the earliest 3D fighting games (and the first weapons-based 3D fighter) and was showered with rave reviews. The sequels were less well received (in fact, Battle Arena Toshinden URA for the Sega Saturn was the first game to earn a 0.5 Fun Factor in Gamepro Magazine), and the series itself was overshadowed by the likes of other 3D fighting games such as Tekken and Virtua Fighter. Critics and fans who decided to revisit the original were far less kind to it, claiming the game aged poorly. Tomy and DreamFactory tried to reboot the franchise on the Wii, but it was largely ignored.
- Myst and any other non-violent exploration and puzzle-oriented Adventure Game where the pacing is glacial and gray matter is more important than reflexes and trigger fingers. Myst was popular when it first debuted in 1993 due to its appeal to those who wanted a more relaxing, atmospheric game that not only had a simple interface, but also didn't rely on repetitive RPG-style combat to advance. As 3D gaming evolved, however, the game's slow pace and confusing puzzles became a major turnoff. In fact, around 1999-2000, Myst was frequently mocked by gaming publications and gamers alike. Today, with open-world RPGs like Skyrim striking a much more appealing balance of fast-paced combat and calm, peaceful exploration, the Myst style of adventure gaming is unlikely to make a comeback anytime soon.
- Despite the success of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, the Mega Man series as a whole has effectively fallen victim to this trope in recent years. The attempted reboot of Mega Man X didn't sell well enough to last, while the ZX and Star Force series have both been long over. The long-awaited Mega Man Legends 3 was canceled, and all fans were treated to for the 25th anniversary of the Blue Bomber were an officially-endorsed fan game, Street Fighter X Mega Man, and a pair of crappy mobile games. Nowadays, Mega Man's video game appearances have largely been limited to cameos and hidden costumes in Capcom's other games, and in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U. Those who accuse Capcom of trying to "kill" Mega Man usually don't know about how poorly the most recent games have sold.
- Super Mario World ROM hacking seems to be going this way at the moment. SMW Central has lost much of its activity over the last few years, the Japanese communities have slowed right down, big games in progress like Brutal Mario seem to be reaching the status of Dead Fic, and the activity on the various collaborations on both the central and raocow's forum seem to have almost slowed to a complete halt. No one quite knows why this has happened, but some possible answers are...
- Minecraft and Garry's Mod offering a more intuitive and more "legal" (or at least, less legally grey) means of showing creativity, meaning that the younger and more dedicated fans have moved to something else. Ditto for hacks for more modern games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and possibly Super Mario Bros X (although this itself has lost a lot of popularity over the years too).
- Popular Let's Play authors like ProtonJon and Azure Blade 49 don't showcase ROM hacks by playing them, so less people find out about the hobby nowadays.
- The original, more active/skilled authors have moved on from such hobbies after leaving school/college and getting into real life stuff, leaving mostly the (lesser amount) of newbies and the extremely dedicated long-term hobbyists as the only ones left.
- The internet being flooded with badly designed ROM hacks didn't help matters. It was easy to find hacks that were nothing but shameless attempts to be more difficult than Kaizo Mario by increasing the cheapness and Fake Difficulty to eleven. Most people eventually got tired of the badly made ROM hacks that did nothing but spike the difficulty instead of adding something new.
- Within the community, there are also a few things which have become this:
- Super Mario World redrawn graphics. Originally, these were seen as a really nice art style to use as a replacement for the default one, a way to make ROM hacks look more unique. Then they got overused to death and get nothing but groans from the community.
- Many old hacks, like the ones Azure Blade 49 and ProtonJon played. Nice enough at the time, but stuff like Super Bobido World is now seen as a rather dated joke.
- Both the Newbie's Custom Boss and the Ultimate N00b Boss. They were made to let non-programmers make unique bosses for hacks, but were so limited in terms of features and set up that the result was a flood of near-identical opponents in hacks for the next few years. It got to the point the maker of the latter asked for it to be deleted from the site to avoid more overuse.
- Many other boss sprites. You've got the default ones, which are now seen as terrible to use outside of a vanilla hack. You've got the really old ones, like SMB 1 Bowser, Mouser, Birdo, etc., who appear so often no one finds them fun to fight any more. The Thwomp Boss, who became so ridiculously common that some people stop playing the game the minute they see it. And Magikoopa bosses, who after the likes of Randorland 3 and raocow's LP, have become seen as almost the epitome in bad/boring boss design.
- Nintendo's Mario Maker is the company's answer to ROM hacks, which allows players to create levels in the style of Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. U and share their creation with others. While Nintendo's game doesn't have the same amount of features as the fan-made ROM hacks, it'll still have more appeal and better ease of use than what a typical ROM hack level editor program would have.
- Unlicensed video games for consoles. Back in the NES/SNES eras (and before that, when platform control by the manufacturer was very limited), various companies like Wisdom Tree and the like released various unlicensed and sometimes pirated games for the different systems. Stuff like Action 52 got "published" this way as well. But since a few generations ago, these types of games seem to have become extinct, likely for the following reasons:
- The expertise and effort needed to make a console game has gone up significantly, so it's less feasible for either a small company/group or a one-man band to try and compete any more.
- Firmware updates mean that circumventing the lockout mechanisms for game systems is much more difficult, and so both unlicensed ripoffs like Action 52 and outright illegal pirate games (like all those sticking Mario or other famous characters in unrelated titles) can be blocked after their release date.
- Digital distribution systems like the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade, App Store, and Google Play Store exist, so many of the low-budget works which would otherwise get published illegitimately are now available legally online. Even the examples of outright plagiarism tend to end up as cheap mobile apps instead.
- While forgotten today, Tiger Electronics was a major force in handheld gaming in the '80s and '90s. They released small handheld LCD games that were really cheap and could all be bought separately. Their peak was in the early '90s, during which time they licensed almost every movie and TV show that was popular at the time, and even released handheld versions of games from other companies (they made an LCD version of Sonic 2, for example). They also released Giga Pets, probably the most successful of the many, many competitors of Tamagotchi. However, in 1998 they were bought out by Hasbro, and they largely abandoned making handheld games after their Furby toy became a runaway hit, causing them to focus more on electronic toys for Hasbro in an attempt to make lightning strike twice. Most of these toys, like the HitClips music player, the VideoNow video player, and the NetJet video game console, failed to catch on. Today, the Tiger Electronics brand is largely dead outside of Furby and its spinoffs, and the games that they made are now considered laughably primitive, especially once the Game Boy brought an NES-level gaming experience to handhelds.
- Black & White was released to unanimous critical acclaim in 2001, earning 9's and 10's across the board and being immediately declared one of the greatest games of all time by many publications. However, it suffered severe Critical Dissonance, with many complaining about its slow pace, unforgiving gameplay, and numerous game breaking bugs. (Plus, good luck getting the game to run on anything more recent than Windows ME.) The backlash was, in fact, so great that many critics later reconsidered their initial assessments of the game. It was #1 on Gamespy's "25 Most Overrated Games Of All Time" list, and is now seen as little more than a footnote in video game history. Part of the reaction was also Hype Backlash to Peter Molyneux, who had (as he often does) promised a lot more for the game than it actually ended up being.
- The DJMAX Technika series used to be very popular in arcades, surpassing the popularity of other rhythm games wherever Technika machines existed. Unfortunately, in 2012, DJMAX Technika 3 updates abruptly ceased, causing the series to plunge in popularity, which was not helped by the developer Pentavision folding and being absorbed into Neowiz. At the end of 2013, the servers for Technika 3's online functionality were removed, preventing anyone from ever accessing their data (e.g. unlocks) ever again. Today, the "proper" response to someone mentioning Technika or even just the DJMAX franchise in general is a snarky commment denying all existence of the series.
- The Hello Engine in Mario Fan Gaming has come into this recently. Back in its day, this was a game engine that worked like a level editor for full Mario fan games, with it having numerous built in resources based on games like Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3 and World''. However, it's fallen into decline for a few notable reasons:
- Way, way too many people made awful games with it (due to treating a game engine as a level editor for Mario games) that the engine's reputation sank in about three or four years. The fact Hello himself (the creator of said engine) had a reputation for making tons of Mission Pack Sequels with said engine without changing a whole lot didn't help either.
- The engine was plagued with bugs in all forms, with some notable ones including glitched sliding mechanics (in earlier versions), getting stuck in objects and losing all momentum when entering new rooms. No one making the terrible games ever usually bothered to fix any of this, so the experience was usually a miserable one when coupled with extremely difficult or poor level design.
- Mario Fan Games Galaxy started just rejecting anything made with said engine (that didn't make massive changes to it) to avoid the flood of crap, meaning that many people moved to different engines or stuff in order to not worry about being accepted.
- As a result, the engine went from 'hottest thing ever' to 'complete joke' in a short time, with the only major games using it being either Fusion Fangaming projects (Mushroom Kingdom Fusion and Super Mario Fusion Revival) or joke games (many of which edited the engine significantly).
- As mentioned above, the games of Square Enix have been hit hard by this. Once considered the juggernaut of the Roleplaying Game Genre, Square has perhaps been hit the hardest by the growing trend of favoring WRPGs over their JRPG counterparts. After Hironobu Sakaguchi was forced to resign from Square after the failure of his pet project, The Spirits Within, his successor made it his first initiative to push spinoffs of their most popular games in order to make more money for Square. This resulted in the fandom turning sour on the company. Not helping matters is that their Final Fantasy games following X all suffered massive broken bases. These days, Square is treated as a walking punchline and ironically it's the spinoffs that are keeping them afloat.
- The Chaos Engine was one of the most popular Amiga games ever, but its success faded after a while. Showed by its sequel, which came out after the Amiga was discontinued. Recently there has been an attempt to revive the franchise but the game that came out of that was a re-hash of the very first game of the franchise.
- In 2009 and 2010 Starry☆Sky was one of the biggest and most beloved otome game franchises. Now it's a dead horse, despite Honeybee still releasing ports of the games on several platforms.
- Bubsy was originally hyped as the next Sonic the Hedgehog. Electronic Gaming Monthly even gave him an award for being the most hyped character of 1993. When the first game came out, it received mostly favorable reviews. However, a combination of a failed cartoon and sequels that got less and less positive reaction per installment (ranging from the painfully mediocre Bubsy 2 to the trainwreck that was Bubsy 3D) have put this bobcat to sleep. History hasn't been kind to the original game either. Many who have revisited the first installment view it as everything wrong with mascot-based platformers, citing problems such as slippery controls and Bubsy himself being annoying.
- Bug for the Sega Saturn is in a very similar boat. In 1995, the game was highly acclaimed and seen as being the system's big Killer App. Of course, it probably helped that there wasn't much else available for the Saturn at the time, and neither the Nintendo 64 nor Playstation had launched yet. But the game also had the (rather important) distinction of being probably the first platformer to allow movement in all four directions. It garnered 9's and 10's across the board, with even Steven Spielberg proclaiming (to paraphrase) that it would be to the Saturn what Sonic was to the Genesis. Unfortunately, once competing games like Jumping Flash! and especially Super Mario 64 were released, a backlash set in, and Bug! was quickly cast aside by reviewers and gamers. Many retrospectively criticized the game for its confusing level design, lack of true 3D freedom (you could only move on one axis at a time) and annoying main character. The sequel Bug Too! came and went, with critics giving it lukewarm reviews and gamers largely ignoring it. The series has been forgotten ever since, only ever being brought up as a prime example of everything that was wrong with the Video Game 3D Leap in its early stages.
- Heboris: Unoffical Expansion was initally the go-to open-source PC clone of Tetris. However, the code was a mess, and as a result, attempts to modify it were left futile. It's been superseded by NullpoMino, which is far easier to modify. Generally speaking, if any Tetris guide recommends Heboris, it's outdated.
- The James Bond license across the board has become this. After GoldenEye (1997) became a smashing success, Bond was one of the hottest licenses in all of gaming. When Electronic Arts snagged the James Bond license later that year, there was much pressure put on the company to top Rare's masterpiece with their first Bond game, based on Tomorrow Never Dies.
Unfortunately, EA's dabblings with the James Bond license would prove to be a very mixed bag. Tomorrow Never Dies (despite being, according to its developers, closely modeled after Goldeneye) was widely panned for its short length, subpar graphics, and generally shoddy gameplay. While The World Is Not Enough was much better received (and even seen by some as a worthy successor to Goldeneye), the game had the unfortunate luck of being released at the end of the Nintendo 64's lifespan. So it (perhaps undeservingly) came and went with little recognition. During the following generation, EA released several more Bond games. While each game was good (or at least playable) in its own right, none managed to approach the critical nor commercial success of Goldeneye. A little later, Activision scooped up the Bond license and released several games, including a modernized remake of Goldeneye. While the remake was well received and had decent sales overall, Activision's other Bond games were both critical and commercial disappointments. After 2012's 007 Legends flopped, developer Eurocom was forced to shut down. The James Bond license has been dormant ever since - now seen as a dreaded video game license that was, more than anything else, killed by the ridiculously high standards the original Goldeneye set for it.
- Joe Danger is a great example of a highly regarded game inexplicably falling off the radar. When it was released as a PSN downloadable in mid-2010, it received widespread praise (especially from IGN, who gave it a 9.5) for its highly addictive gameplay and clever level design. It was also among the best selling PSN games ever. Within just a few months, however, the game just fell into obscurity and was rarely (if ever) mentioned when discussing the top games on the Playstation 3 (or even the Playstation Network). It's not really clear why this was, but one thing that probably didn't help was that its 2012 sequel was considered to be vastly inferior.
- The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games for the Philips CD-i were received positively at the time of their releases. Almost a decade later, with the internet being in more peoples' houses, some fans decided to give the CD-i games a chance. The reception was quickly turned from positive to overwhelmingly negative, citing the cumbersome controls, infamous cut scene animation and other factors. The failure of the CD-i Games may have been why there was a long drought for Zelda games until Ocarina of Time, which was released to unanimously positive reception.
- The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game was well-regarded at the time of its release, winning Nintendo Power's Game of the Year Award for 1989, and selling four million copies. However, time hasn't been kind to the game at all. Players who decided to give the game another go years after its release cited the Nintendo Hard difficulty, the many liberties the game took with the Turtles license, and unbalanced player characters are reasons for the game's many flaws that were bound to be inescapable.
- For years, there was the simulation genre in video games. The number of simulators had grown to ridiculous lengths and eventually got blasted by gamers and critics alike for cluttering the video game market with filler containing low quality. Some people proceeded to create parodies of these simulators, notbaly Surgeon Simulator 2013 and Goat Simulator, to mock the genre. The success of the simulator parodies became so huge that everyone decided to join in on the "joke" and flooded the market with nonsense simulator games like Grass Simulator, Black Screen Simulator, or even Bathroom Simulator. The jokes these parody games presented themselves as became the punchline itself since people are now sick of crappy low quality joke games.
- Several in-universe examples occur in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Over the course of the series, 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). He has received a second wind by GTA V in the form of hosting a TV talent show, but his jerkass demeanor is cranked Up to Eleven.
- In Vice City, set in 1986, Love Fist is shown to be one of the biggest bands in the world, with two of their songs playing on the rock station and with them going on a world tour that's been banned in several countries. However, in San Andreas, set six years later, they appear to have been largely forgotten, with the DJ on the classic rock station asking "whatever happened to Love Fist?" Love Fist was a parody of the stereotypes of Hair Metal and the musicians that performed it, so it makes sense that, by 1992, the band would be washed up like many other hair metal acts were at the time.
- In GTA IV, set in 2008, the website MyRoomOnline.net is a parody of Myspace, its users, and the culture that surrounded it. By GTA V, set five years later, MyRoom is a shell of its former self referred to as "the ghost town of the internet", having been driven into irrelevancy by the Facebook parody Lifeinvader and forced to sell its domain name, reflecting how Myspace went out of style in the late '00s and early '10s.
- Punch-Out!! has an in-universe example in the Wii game, featuring Disco Kid. Doc lampshades this, occasionally saying that disco's dead.
- The Sims 3 contains items that, while necessary in previous installments, are rendered obsolete due to improvements in the Sims' capabilities. The newspaper was once an important part of job hunting, but has been reduced to an annoyance as Sims are now able to apply directly at their desired business. Books were one of the only avenues for improving certain skill-sets, but are now only useful to bookworms due to the varied methods of learning (including first-hand experience). Land-line phones are redundant with smartphones. Even televisions aren't as practical a time waster as more constructive hobbies. Despite ultimately being caused by revised game mechanics, many of these instances are Truth in Television (as can be seen in the Real Life section of this trope).