Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Those Are Mighty Big Numbers

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 17, 2012

How many games were published for the original Nintendo Entertainment System? MobyGames lists 1116. And the Super NES? 1043. The Nintendo 64 had only 324, the Game Cube 557, and the Wii an astonishing 1201. So all together for the Nintendo  consoles, that’s just under 4,250 games.

The Nintendo  handhelds enjoyed hundreds of published titles each – again, according to MobyGames’ list.

The XBox 360, all by itself, has over 1700 titles. That probably does not include the indie games.  The three Playstation generations combined have 5,503 games.  The Commodore 64, all by itself, tips the scales at over 3,000 games listed.

But how about DOS games, in the bad ol’ days before the mid 90’s? Again, not including the indie titles (and those were relatively scarce back then):  Almost 5,500 listed.  The Mac has over 3,200. And Windows? A staggering 13,500 games! And that doesn’t include most small, indie games.

GOG.COM has 423 games available – mostly classic games, with a recent influx of several newer games, especially indie titles. These are all compatible with modern Windows operating systems, and while many are lacking in the graphical pizzazz department, they are still (mostly) fun titles ( Master of Orion III being a major exception). If you think they don’t make ’em like they used to, you can always go play them exactly like they used to.

Desura – which is mostly (but not exclusively) indie games, has 620 games currently available. Yeah, that’s almost twice the total games ever released for the Sega Master System.

Steam has 1,667 games for PC currently available, and 268 Mac games.  Bear in mind that some of these may be duplicates – deluxe versus standard editions – but this doesn’t include DLC.

Kongregate? “Thousands upon thousands” of free-to-play online games.

Android currently lists almost 40,000 games for that platform.

Newgrounds? Newgrounds has over 60,000 flash / browser games available on their site.

iPhone / iPad? Hellatons. From what I can tell, over 100,000 game titles. Not all are unique, mind you, but… that is not a small number. That is a very big number. When you say, “one in a million,” you are only off by a factor of ten when you are talking iPhone games. With a new one released approximately every hour. I think that’s actually slowed down somewhat…

For a bit of historical perspective, the “glut” that doomed the video game industry on the original Atari 2600 (AKA VCS) in the early 1980s was less than 600 games. It was a different era back then, granted, with a much smaller market than we have now. But still… that’s a lot.

So what all that means is that the “average” indie game released today has a 99.9% chance of completely getting lost in the noise. While this has always been the case, it’s more true than ever that a new game has to stand out – both on its own, and with its marketing – or it is going to be totally and completely drowned out. It’s not enough to make a game that’s simply a really good example of its category. And you absolutely cannot be “average.” If my retro-gaming habit has taught me anything, it’s that there were plenty of excellent games that I totally missed the first time around just because I was too overloaded to pay attention, and they didn’t call enough attention to themselves.  And things are much worse now.  Game developers are competing against past, present, and even future games.

I really don’t know how the brave, new world of gaming is going to work. I hope I can figure it out, as a developer.

Filed Under: Biz - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • jeffsullins said,

    And when you do, you must share the answer 🙂

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    To be fair, the “glut” that crashed the video game market in 1983 wasn’t from the number of games. It was from the number of BAD games. It had gotten to the point where Atari was releasing games with as little as two weeks development time – from initial idea to finished product.

    The crash happened because consumers realized their odds of getting a piece of crap when they bought a video game was drastically higher than getting a good or even decent game – and in a time before widely available reviews – i.e. you had to walk in and see it on the shelf to know it existed – that spelled disaster.

  • Felix Pleșoianu said,

    There’s too much of everything out there, not just games. Thousands of webcomics; billions of photographs; mindboggling amounts of music and video; and don’t even get me started about literature. Even once you are noticed, you’ll be competing for a piece of someone’s disposable income with more desirable distractions that they could possibly pay for.

    Right now, the patronage model works for some, the “one thousand true fans” model for others. And who knows what other models will show up in the future. But frankly? I don’t expect to ever make a penny with my creations, and maybe it’s better that way. Society needs productive work too. And non-digital work, for that matter.

    P.S. The Interactive Fiction Database lists 4116 titles as of this writing; that number, too, grows constantly.

  • Samsin said,

    EA’s CEO seems to agree… (end of article). His solution is to focus on marketing versus game quality, but that’s no surprise.