Video games: a pioneer of planned obsolescence

There is a term used by product manufacturers and retailers called “planned obsolescence.” In a nutshell, this is the understanding that creating products that last is not commercially smart, and this is the concept that drives modern commercialism.

However, to convince people to buy your products, there has to be some safety, quality and longevity, so while consumers can be said to be making products that are as good as ever when it comes to quality, it’s the concept and marketing behind those products what leaves your shelf. limited life.

Video games are just one example. Technology has developed so quickly that playing old games on old hardware makes you feel very old. You feel like you’re missing out on the next big thing. But technology aside, the very concept behind gaming has changed. Games used to focus on high scores, games that often didn’t have an ending, or at least a realistic ending, allowing players an almost unlimited amount of playtime as they endlessly sought to beat their record high score.

Game developers quickly realized that this business model was not sound. If they already had a great game that they still had reason to play, it would limit their desire to buy new games. Thus games began to be made with a definite beginning and end. The games also became easier so that this end could be achieved more easily and quickly. Once you’ve finished the game, there’s not much else to do. Even if the game is great and it would be nice to play again, there’s not much incentive to do it without something to drive it, like a high score to beat. Through this simple change in business model, games went from having a potentially unlimited shelf life to having less than 20 hours of playtime in most cases.

Cell phones are also an obvious option to consider, also from a design point of view, but also from a marketing point of view. The technology is also there like in video games, constantly improving the quality of reception, the ability to take pictures, the size, etc. As insignificant as some of these things may seem, advertising and, to a lesser extent, pressure from others and from ourselves, drives us to buy these new products, even when the old ones still work just fine. If you don’t have the thinnest, thinnest, coolest phones with the latest gadgets, you’re just not great, and advertising lets us know that, or at least makes us think so.

Some manufacturers take the really easy way out, and that is by building really shoddy stuff so that it quickly becomes unusable. This saves manufacturing costs and also ensures that that customer will come back to the market for a similar item in the future, although why they would buy from the same manufacturer is unknown. This strategy does not seem to make much sense from a company’s point of view, but this is the path of some companies despite everything.

This throwaway society isn’t just hurting our wallets (with an average $8,000-$9,000 in debt in the American household now), it’s also been hurting our environment. Manufacturing these often unnecessary products dumps tons of pollution into the air, while the still fully functioning old products are dumped into gigantic landfills of valuable space.

Fighting this “planned obsolescence” can be difficult depending on your personality. If you’re someone who values ​​quality and durability over style, you’re probably already doing well to fight this consumerism and carry a low APR on your credit cards. If not, it may take a concerted effort on your part to realize how you’re getting sucked into buying things you don’t need. Don’t worry about what others have, let them be victims of the siren song of selfishness that brings them the new, just worry about your own business and what you need to get to buy. You will be doing yourself and the environment a favor.

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