The large studio games you listed are an interesting group, largely because there is a commonalty they all share: crunch. RDR2, TLOU and Cyberpunk, whether considered well made or not, all involve the spectre of crunch. And arguably even RDR2 had problems at launch. Not anywhere similar to Cyberpunk, but certainly issues due to the size of the game, and likely due at least in part to the invisible hand of crunch. And I think that dominates a lot of the discourse around large studio games right now, and definitely factors into my thinking on the topic. It also influences where I spend my money and the games on which I spend my time.
I also tend to wait on picking up large studio releases until they go on sale, saving my money for indies that I really want physical copies of.
On the new console front, I think one of the realities of limited supply is the fact that hardware is always limited by the supply chain at launch, rather than a underestimation of demand. It should be noted that apparently Sony had more, and sold more, PS5s at launch than they did PS4s, which means they have improved on initial supply issues. Nonetheless there is simply a limit to the number of hardware units that manufacturing can pump out, so demand for new consoles will always be highest at launch. I don’t think it’s a matter of misunderstanding initial demand, it’s that the launch of new hardware is always constrained due to realistic physical limits on manufacturing.
On the scalping front, we have retail systems that allow people to buy up large quantities of items, and not just consoles, for resale. This is compounded by the fact that some consumers are willing to pay the scalpers. It’s capitalism at its finest and as long as all the pieces that enable this remain in place, it will continue. I couldn’t buy an Analogue Pocket earlier this year for exactly this reason.
And one solution is simply to wait it out. There will be plenty of PS5s and Xbox Series Xs as 2021 rolls around. And as supply costs drop and manufacturing lines can ramp up production, we’ll see far more of them on shelves rather than in scalper’s pockets because the supply will start to balance out with the demand. Until then Sony and Microsoft have made it very easy to continue playing new games on old systems. I was able to play Miles Morales despite not owning a PS5. And when I do get a PS5, that disc will grant me the PS5 version. Plenty of other big games have released for both new and old gen consoles. There’s no rush to move to the new gen, which is great. I am perfectly content to continue playing games on my PS4 for the time being.
And I’m also content to continue buying indie games for my Switch, a platform that has been fantastic for indies. Every day another indie I want is coming to Switch. Umurangi Generation is something that I’ve been wanting to play, and it will soon be on Switch. Essentially if I wait for almost any indie that seems to be on people’s radar, it will probably hit Switch. I love it. So I spend a lot of time collecting games for Switch that I’m excited to play, largely more excited than many of the big tent pole games of the year. I think of the mainstream studio releases this year I played Animal Crossing New Horizons and Miles Morales. I am finishing Age of Calamity and just started on Doom Eternal. To be fair part of the reason was because ACNH took up a lot of my play time this year, but also because I’m content to either skip or wait on playing a lot of the big studio output this year.
I managed to play through Mario 64 on my copy of Mario 3D Allstars and stopped there. Not because I don’t want to continue, but due to time constraints. Also any amount of Mario 64 is enough for me to require a break from 3D Mario. I have a lot of nostalgia for that game, but the further I get from the N64 era the less I miss playing those games. They were certainly influential but everything they influenced is a touch more enjoyable. Which brings me to Mario Sunshine, a game I plan to play over my holiday break from work. I look forward to playing the one classic mainline Mario game I’ve never played before.