Disruptive technologies and long term impacts II

Yesterday I discussed how disruptive technologies can drive our economy through creating new opportunities. However, it can obviously have some very negative impacts at the firm level. Let’s look at consoles again. First, as most of us are aware, there are only three major console manufacturers in existence. There have been a pretty steady number of console makers since the 90’s however the players have changed. Sega and Nintendo were the biggest players when I was young, however this shifted to Sony and Nintendo in the mid 90’s with the N64 and Playstation. The console makers are only half of it though. Without publishers, like EA, game developers, like Bungee, the gaming industry would die.

The people impacted by the changing in consoles are not just the console makers themselves, but also the publishers and the developers. In fact, it could be argued that the different platforms (consoles and PC) make it as difficult or more difficult for the developers. Some games the console makers want specifically for their console only. This cuts into the potential profits of a game developer. Additionally, there are difficulties of learning how to program for the new systems. Not all game developer or publisher is going to get early access to the new console. This makes it very difficult for them to actually compete with other developers, which do.

In a pretty cool paper (Vaan, 2010) that looks into the survival rate of developers and publishers after a disruptive change, they investigate the role of a networks. Below is a time series of network changes. Which show that the closer you are to the center of the network increases survival rate.

Network of video game developers (Vaan, 2010)

These networks are important outside of the video game industry as well. In my next blog I’ll go into more details about the importance of networks in surviving new technologies.

Vaan, Mathijs de, “Interfirm Networks and firm performance in the face of technological discontinuities” 2010 Druid conference

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