When did Video Games Stop Innovating? | Nostalgia Nerd

When did Video Games Stop Innovating? | Nostalgia Nerd

Games these days lack innovation and imagination, right? They’ve lost the creative spark of times gone by?… That is the view of some people, anyway. I, however, have a different perspective on the matter, which was triggered by a very specific article from a copy of Your Sinclair from May 1986. The article was from the very last page and echoes (from the past), the same sort of gripes many people say today… and this was a year which witnessed so many classic games across a variety of home computer systems, not to mention in the arcades! So in this video, we’ll be looking at that article, pondering how the views from 1986 of some are eerily similar to those of today, asking whether modern games lack innovation, asking when games began to lack innovation and whether the vast number of games available pretty much renders all of these redundant. Enjoy!

If you wish to share this video in forums, social media, on your website, *please do so*! It helps tremendously with the channel!


✊Support Me! ✊
*Please consider supporting the channel on Patreon*: https://www.patreon.com/nostalgianerd?ty=h
Visit my eBay Shop: http://ebay.to/1QQpYyy
Buy From Amazon (Amazon give a small commission to my affiliate account)….
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2rQKH2a

★Join me on Social Media★
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nostalnerd
Face: http://www.facebook.com/nostalnerd
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/nostalgianerd
Web: http://www.nostalgianerd.com

Lumix G6 with Vario 14-42mm Lens
Nikon D3200 with 40mm Macro
Corel Video Studio Ultimate X9
Corel Paint Shop Pro X6
Blue Snowball Microphone

If you believe I have forgotten to attribute anything in this video, please let me know, so I can add the source in. It takes time to make these videos and therefore it can be easy to forget things or make a mistake.


  1. David O'Keif on November 2, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Innovation is usually driven by new advances in hardware, creativity then fans out the possibilities from there via software. Once the price point, human user interface, and standards reach a certain threshold, my guess is FP games will migrate to VR setups. VR has tried to enter the market several times before, but was always running into barriers of cost or technical limitations.

  2. Sue Suzy on November 2, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Ah, I remember playing The Sentinel n the beeb, had me hooked for weeks 🙂

  3. Tobias Henriksen on November 2, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    If you think video games has stopped innovating, you should take a look at sports! You know that some places they are STILL stuck with baseball, tennis, golf, football, and stuff like that!

    And they justify it by saying that "it is fun" and that "they like it". How ridiculous is that! Clearly they should innovating!

  4. Baron von Quiply on November 2, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Everything went downhill once we stopped playing Outrun The Smilodon..

  5. Gábor Bérczi on November 2, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    The author is confusing innovation with divergence. It’s the latter that’s disappeared or at least isn’t widening, not the former. It’s not that games stopped innovating, but as technology has evolved, games try to be more and more realistic (at least in regards of visuals and physics). And because we all share one common reality, when games are trying to imitate that, it’s just unavoidable, that all of them start to look more and more the same. Back in the days the technology didn’t allow games to model reality very good, so visuals and physics had to be all represented in an utterly oversimplified form. That left a lot of room for interpretations and at what properties to focus on in your game. For ex. a ladder could be schematized completely differently depending on what perspective the game was using and what the role of the ladder was. Proportions could be also way off, because it couldn’t and wasn’t mean to be realistic – so every game could have differently sized enemies, monsters, obstacles. But when you’re trying to create a realistic game, you’re bound by reality and how we look at it. Now a ladder looks the same way in every game, and has to have the same proportions, because it all has to make sense and look realistically. You also can’t have arbitrarily small or big monsters, because you have to be able to recognize them at room distance, and because they have to fit in the viewing frame. And so on. So it’s not that games stopped innovating, but innovation nowadays mostly goes in the direction of becoming more and more realistic – so most games innovate towards the same goal, and thus they’re converging. It’s not innovation that has disappeared, but to diverge of game genres, visuals and interpretations.

  6. Owen Fitzgerald on November 2, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    There was a lot of very imaginative games in the 90’s. There was a lot badly executed games but the idea’s for them was good. Band’s have changed to latch on to whatever the trend is to try and keep the crap truck rolling.

  7. Straightcherry D. on November 2, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Perhaps innovations TEND to be more in the fringes of non-hardcore gaming and/or indies now. Whereas in the old days innovations tended to happen within the core market. Just floating the idea.

  8. One Chance on November 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Great production. Professional, yet full of personality. Massive fan of this channel.

  9. MegaTechpc on November 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Innovation is overrated. I play the types of games I personally enjoy and they all fall into just a couple subsets of genres. Invariably there are similarities between them because those are the kinds of games I like. "Innovative" games are the ones I already know I’m not going to want to play.

  10. television and cheese on November 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    I think innovation stopped at about 2000-2001. (AT least in terms of technology)
    Since the Xbox introduced bump mapping, nothing more has been introduced. The only difference since then is things are just getting higher and higher in resolution.
    The PS2 or Dreamcast could easily play modern games like GTA V or whatever, if they simply had more raw power of what they already have, things like more and faster memory would allow them to have higher resolution sound, textures, models, and by then its already at the standards we have of games today.
    You can tell innovation happened before then, as if you were to increase the raw power of a Sega master system, to have enough memory and speed to run nowerdays games, it still wouldn’t, as it can’t do things like hardware 3D rendering or texture mapping to polygons, or cell shading lighting…
    Newer games have just been getting higher and higher resolutions, no new technologies:/.
    But it’s not the developer’s fault, right now, games are pretty much identical looking to real life, and it’s not really possible for developers to make new technologies, as we can’t imagine them. Its like trying to make a new colour. Now all our machines have been able to create all the colours that already exist, there’s no more for newer machines to be able to do that the old ones can’t.

  11. Michael O on November 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Micro transactions have fundimental changed game design for the worst and could certainly be a benchmark of this. Mobile gaming is almost completely ruined by it, and PC and console games are circling the drain today as more and more games look to make money of of thier addictive nature vs selling a complete, pure entertainment package.

  12. Dave Burford on November 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    to be fair, me and a mate used to fool around at pretend fighting in the living room inspired by IK. We also once managed to watch highlander and then did sword fights using tennis rackets held backwards. Copying stuff and turning it into games IS part of being a kid and the lack of good graphics back then just made it easier, being a kid is all about imagination!

    I’m not saying it was a bad thing though. Parents kept an eye on me. I think they called a few "lets try wrestling moves on each other!" sessions to a halt before someone broke a neck. (they wouldnt have to repeatedly say "dont try this at home" if no one ever did.) I would also watch my older brother play outrun and later lotus and then build myself a pretend car in the garden and no one would say that lotus etc was bad for prompting that. As long as your parents are switched on its never going to be a problem, but i think pretending kids dont imitate things (video games or otherwise) is probably just as bad as going crazy calling games evil.

  13. Andy Parsons on November 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Sentinal, had me hooked for a long time (c64 version)

  14. no_internet on November 2, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    when call of duty: ghosts was released

  15. MephProduction on November 2, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    While modern games are in a rut, maybe people like Lolo should try to come up with new ideas instead of slagging them off. That being said like movies, when something new does come along nobody watches/buys it. The public do seem to prefer the same things over and over and over.

  16. tomtom vicky on November 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Early 80s, UK copied only USA games, Frogger clones, platform clones, 3D clones…..

  17. Sir Randall Gaming on November 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    I am still shocked People think the ZX was better than the C64. To me, I would rather pay the extra for the good sound and graphics.

  18. LetoZeth on November 2, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    I’d say right after the PS1/N64 generation of consoles, it all went to shit.

  19. spaceman00 on November 2, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Games died at 1997.

  20. TheBrazilRules on November 2, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I think the problem is how safe companies are being now. They just copy what is successfull and apply diferente graphics on the top. And no one wants for every game to be a new genre, but just trying to add a little to make it feel different. Just like Mirror’s Edge that is just a plataformer, but with the first person perspective, feels like something totally different

  21. Optimus6128 on November 2, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    In the 80s when the hardware was so limited, I have seen many genres and subgenres pop up, and especially specific games that were thinking for the future. They were trying to do 3d games with even rarer techniques than polygons (rescue on fractalus, eidholon), procedural generation (elite), open world games, strategy games, mashups of genres, things you wouldn’t believe someone would ever think of attempting in such low hardware. Coders where thinking far ahead, there was less standartization and more experimentation. Of course there can be still innovations today, and there was a lot of shovelware back in the past too, but it’s way more impressive to me when it was done during the 80s or 90s.

  22. HardWarUK on November 2, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    It was "sameish" because programmers were young and had little life experience. In the U.S., where C64 owners were much older, they were able to come up with a wider range of games, like Alter Ego, Little Computer People, Portal (the C64 adventure game) and others. The reasdon for "sameish" today is the $100 million plus development costs for AAA titles, so they cannot take risks. Hence the growth of the indie market that have reacted to that.

    Gamers are at fault too though, with Looking Glass disappearing because gamers didn’t want their original titles, same for Good and Evil, Psychonauts and other "original" titles.

  23. Alan Rizkallah on November 2, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Yeah, it’s the same old song whether it’s 1986 or 2017. The innovators are out there and always have been, you just have to know where to look. People also have to understand the difference between innovation that pushes gameplay forward in a meaningful way and innovation for innovation’s sake whether it’s practical or not.

  24. Hendrik Little on November 2, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Finds a single review from 1986 and complains how hard that review works to find something to complain about #irony

  25. tsartomato on November 2, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    fps? you aren’t in the loop are you? it’s post-mobas all the way right now
    everyone makes one
    blizzard did two epic makes them ea etc all of them

  26. BeggiChozo on November 2, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    It’s hard to say. In the 80’s/90’s you could make something like Doom and change the industry. So you could say alot of the 80’s/90’s are pivotal to where we are now in games. Quake 3 really pushed the 3d card and a good internet connection. Then you have classics like Scorched Earth which was huge when it was released. Then if we put arcade and consoles into the mix. I would say it’s just innovation. Then trow in StarCraft, Diablo, Mario, Sonic, Hexen jesus I could go on.

  27. John Smith on November 2, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    This is not lack of innavation, this is lack of ideas. Video and pc games is mainly bussines, and nothing more. Games with interesting ideas which pushing forward all industry, as well as creative persons (Kodjima for example), is a very rare occasions. I personally don’t considering video and pc games as a cultural phenomenon at all, this is just merchandise, like chocolate bars, that’s it. And of course you can call Mars bars a piece of art, but it’s still just a chocolate bar essentially.

  28. supernova gamer on November 2, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    the answer: when cod came out

  29. Brian South on November 2, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Spectrum was full of shovelware like the wii

  30. Remy Kamermans on November 2, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Its called growing out of your childhood wonder and imagination, as a younger person everything on computers and games if fascinating when you grow up you recognise the sae idea’s and gameplay patterns more and more.
    Sure companys play it safe even back in the day but people blame it on the outside instead seeing that its all inside themself.
    I think the gamming marketplace is more diverse then ever and there are still new idea’s but also remember that there is so much you can do before you run out of new idea’s for a while.

  31. UncleDeluxe on November 2, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Only jaded cynics that don’t look beyond what’s popular or their own comfort zones will think that innovation ever stopped.

  32. Logan Jorgensen on November 2, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    I’d say the "literal" has become overly dominant in triple A games, no matter how elaborate the scenario it breaks down to how does this apply to what an actual human being would do too often. The FPS genre suffers the most from this because there is a large demographic demand that such games need to be "realistic" to be better. Abstractness is something to snuff out or worse overemphasize to be authentically retro.

  33. phil kruman on November 2, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    My comment is from a slightly different angle. Innovation or evolution is a subjective point and can be argued until the world stops turning. But one thing that stands out is the fact that ‘most’ games are now aimed towards a market of older game players as these are the people who have the funds to buy the things at upwards of £40.00 a time.
    This has resulted in a skewed perspective from developers who aim more for realism and gore. Most game players in the 1980s had a demographic of 11-17 years old and the games were aimed accordingly at that market. The cartoon like graphics and style of games were based on an escape from reality and predominantly fun. It was only when developers started to ‘age’ in line with their audience did more ‘gore’ come into play with the outcry that followed over games such as ‘rat splat’ and the proliferation of fighting games. This resulted in age related packaging and eventually the PEGI rating. Realism is a good thing, but how many games are aimed at children on modern games machines and PC’s.?. Not many.. The last family orientated games machines died with the N64 and the Wii (still doing a service with the switch) which were aimed more at a family or cartoon experience. That’s the real shame of modern games and it will eventually bite itself in the bum as it is ignoring the next generation of game and technology users .

  34. tuffasgong on November 2, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    Pretty garbage video…

  35. Morten Ottersen on November 2, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    What is the name of the last game you show. I played that on C64 back in the day.

  36. James Petts on November 2, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    So your point is that there’s lack of originality in the critique about lack of originality in games?

  37. Jari Haukilahti on November 2, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Manic miner was a favorite and miner 2049 and dino eggs and chucky egg eg donkey kong sucked , should I add the mysterious world of Jet set willy.

  38. Nagy Andras on November 2, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    dune2 was innovation, wolfeinstein was innovation, but nowdays i see nothing like that.
    there are no new concepts at all.

  39. NotMeGaming on November 2, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    its funny how so much has changed and yet hasnt changed at all when you look at it

  40. Justus McNeal on November 2, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    When Xbox came along, simple.

  41. darkinertia2 on November 2, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    im glad you didnt go on the typical cynical "games nowadays are shit" rant, very refreshing to hear a youtuber that does gaming stuff that DOESNT hate gaming lol.

    you hit the nail on the head with the companies making money, its what theyre supposed to do. although you didnt mention enough that the amount of innovation within the indie scene is insane, just think about this, the amount of praise that breath of the wild got for its open world survival shit came from the popularity of minecraft

  42. Chris Charlton on November 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I recently saw a Crash article from spring 87 that did a big round table of developers at the time saying the 16 bit micros were going to stifle creativity in the face of increasing development costs. Eerie. This was also about a month before Wizball came out, so, um.

  43. tsartomato on November 2, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    2008 amerikan crysis

  44. Vanima Permai on November 2, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    the awnser is simple. when grathics became the main focase of the games

  45. Randy Watson on November 2, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    When games were simple it kept your brain active to imagine how it should be in your perception. Now it is realistic and you find it quite boring because you feel constrained in that realistic virtual world vs what you can do irl.

  46. * * on November 2, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    That article seems to be only about arcade games. Those types of games are VERY LIMITED in what kind of games are fun to play in a short amount of time. Of course they will all be very similar. So that article does not take into account the MANY genres of gaming in the 90’s, which was when the innovation (and hardware to support them) exploded and there wasn’t much left that could be new… except for VR games that are only viable in the present time because of new hardware.

  47. Justin Justin on November 2, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    Patterns or not, where are portals in games? Where is mass destruction of buildings in games like red faction? Bad company 2 started to bring that back, but instead of increasing destruction as we move to bf3,4,1 we see less destruction. At least we have games like battlegrounds and f13 trying to change things up.

  48. calabiyou on November 2, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    Most games are about collecting coins and shooting people.

  49. Lord Terra on November 2, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    I would say AAA games lack imagination. Indie Devs are doing everything the large studios won’t do.

  50. Manek Iridius on November 2, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Never. You’re just not looking hard enough.

Leave a Comment