Weird video game library trends

I was thinking about odd game library trends, because of a text ferricide sent me with a bunch of orange-logo-having SNES games lined up in a row (which I‘m sure he’ll share).

There are odd trends that pop up in game libraries that get large enough, and it's hard to know if it's intentional (unlikely?), the result of marketing trends (likely-ish?) or totally random. I'm not talking about popular genres or anything, more like visual, naming, or packaging trends.

For example, look at the genesis library. There's a huge number of titles that start with S. I have, let's see, about 210 genesis and mega drive titles here. Of those, 38 start with the letter S! It's really striking when they're all laid out next to each other. That's 18% of my personal library just on one letter. Check it out:
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I could see a scenario where people are naming their games thinking, well... sega... sonic... let's name our game with an S? And sega did plenty of S games themselves, which didn't hurt. To that end you'd expect more V (virtua/virtual) titles on the saturn, but it's not nearly as disproportionate there.

Then look at the PC Engine. There's an unusual weighting of titles toward the absolute base of the alphabet. Most libraries (saturn aside) you get to the letter U and you're basically done, minus a few stragglers. On the pc engine you've got valis (series), veigues, vasteel (series), vigilante, violent soldier, Ys (series), yawara (series), xak (series), xzr (series), zero-4 (series), even a god darned zero wing port. Some heavy hitters down there!

My total armchair guess is based on my time in music retail, when I worked at Rasputin (a small bay area music/video store chain that some of you probably know of). The buyers would often talk about how bands would try to get closer to the start of the section, like Rock, A, because browsing fatigue would set in once you get to M or whatever. With game stores it was more like what's on the endcap, less about browsing, but then there's the Sega S scenario...

Anyway with the PC Engine, V is V and X are at the start of the alphabet, since V is written with う and X with え. So it's only at the bottom of our particular alphabet.

Uh, anyway! Any curious trends you've noticed? I feel like there's a big PS2 trend I can't put my finger on.

Lot of N64 games ended with 64 to denote that they were, in fact, for the 64. The trend continued with the GBA and a lot of games suffixed with “Advance”. I really liked the trend of games being suffixed with “Pocket” too

lots of nintendo DS games have subtitles that can be abbreviated as DS

It’s surprise how few games on the genesis have the Mega prefix. It seems like it would have been a great way to differentiate from all the Super branding from Nintendo.

ah yeah, the DS->DS title thing was always neat! Dawn of Sorrow, et al.

For the mega prefix, my assumption was they avoided it since it was only the mega drive outside the US, and the US was what carried sales, really. so they were probably worried about stepping on toes and confusing people? still, it would've been nice for them to have A Thing.

Now seems a shame there was no BDSM game for the Master System.

Some Sharp X68000 games love to remind you of what PC you’re playing on by slapping 68k to the end.

@azure#109 SEGA righted their wrongs by making Jewel Master for the Mega Drive, thankfully. And that game’s quite mascochistic.

“I'm a slave to my master system!” - abandoned Sega marketing slogan

@Inkskratch#217 Missed a trick by calling it the Power Base, not the Power Bottom.

@azure#221 I gotta admit, the Sega Dominatrix does sound like it could be a real thing

They always did have the most evocative system names.

There's the orange and teal box art thing from a few years ago.

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oh yeah, movie posters had that too… I reckon we stole it from the movies

When have videogames ever done such a thing

I think some of the visual trends in libraries just have to do with what‘s “in” design-wise in general at the time. My favorite example is the use of CGI that looks little like the actual game on box art in the late ’90s, which you can observe in multiple:

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I think this never actually stopped, since most box art nowadays is just really good CGI, but the graphics in the games themselves started catching up to what was on the box and that changed it. Back then it was probably a better selling point on the basis of screaming “hey, look at this cool picture! That's this game (sort of)!”

ahhhh that reminds me of the “physical” game box trend, which was real neat!!! when folks made dioramas etc as game boxes. @brentporter needs to get in here and share his huge imgur dump of these. they're super neat!

I‘m gonna plant my flag here and say that every single game cover should be original physical visual art of some sort. Painting, illustration, collage, photograph-of-sculpture; whatever. And the same goes for film posters. And it should express something about the ideas in the work, instead of screaming at full logo density for attention, such that it’s impossible to make out any signal in the forest of noise.

THIS IS ANOTHER WAY that Sega really got it right with the Genesis: big clamshell case for displaying big, physical art. Early Genesis games especially—the first couple of waves, before they started to hem in the template then moved to the red border—tend to rely on absolutely gorgeous paintings to distinguish themselves. Even setting aside the changing template, you can often tell when a Genesis game came out just by the energy, detail, and distinctiveness of the artwork. You look at the case to Ghouls 'N Ghosts or Altered Beast, and you think, this is an original work that has something to communicate. They feel like hardback novels.

The presentation sets this whole mood for the kind of engagement you expect to invest in your experience with the game. It decommodifies the work and presents it as a respectful discussion. Come; spend time to understand me; I have things to show you.

The naming scheme for PSP games was kind of weirdly busy. While most game libraries have an average word count that hovers around 2, the PSP probably has an average well above 3. There's a huge amount of subtitles and games labeled as side stories.

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The clean design of the PAL and JP spines really seems to accentuate this.

Here are the imgur albums i put together that @exodus was talking about:

https://imgur.com/a/qojk7A3

https://imgur.com/a/LnH1gzf

Top Gear Rally is my favorite example of this but I like the Mischief Makers box too.

If this is a boxart thread,

I miss the trend of box art having absolutely nothing to do with the game. Other than all-time-great Phalanx I can't remember any good examples though.