Gaming industry hit hard by shortage of pixels

Companies such as EA, Valve, Activision and even smaller independent studios like Team Meat and Uber Entertainment have expressed their concerns with the recent “pixel shortage” threatening the development of future titles.

“It’s a very scary time,” said Andrew Wilson, Executive Vice President of EA SPORTS. “I think a lot of us were just making games and didn’t even bother to think about where all of those pixels come from. It isn’t like the days of PONG, Adventure or even Super Mario. Pixel use was light back then. Now? I can’t even tell you how many pixels we have to use, especially with high definition and 3D.”

Team Meat, developers of the hit Super Meat Boy, took to their Twitter account to comment. “You look at games like Call of Juarez: The Cartel and The First Templar and you have to wonder, man, how many pixels did we waste? I like to think we were very mindful of pixels when we made SMB, but some companies just don’t care. And all the zombie games? Man, all the zombie games…”

The pixel shortage is estimated to last until late next year, but some experts are predicting that unless the industry reacts quickly, this shortage could last for many years to come. “US pixel production is slow, especially in the current economic climate,” said Derek Shaunnessy, spokesman for the Pixel Management Alliance, a group founded in 2008 to help reduce the wasteful use of domestic pixels. “Some companies, mainly the big ones, have been forced to import pixels from China and Taiwan. The quality is low and it shows in many of the games that come out. Duke Nukem Forever? They couldn’t even afford new pixels. They had to use the ones they’d been sitting on for nearly a decade.”

But some industry professionals are optimistic. Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, head of Mojang Specifications, developers of Minecraft, sees this as an opportunity. “I think we’ve proven that you can create a great, popular title without wasting pixels. We’ve used large pixels to help reduce graphical waste and our entire game has been proven to use less pixels than even the latest downloadable content pack for Call of Duty [Rezurrection - Ed.] uses more pixels than we do.” Mojang was recently awarded with the Bushnell Award for Pixel Preservation earlier this year for their efforts. Notch continued: “We just don’t see why a game has to waste what valuable resources they have.

“When we run out of pixels, then what? I refuse to go back to reading.”

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