In recent years, the video-game industry looked like it had found the antidote to the boom-bust cycles that had long plagued the business.
Publishers focused on a few well-known titles and extended their lives through in-game purchases, expansion packs and online tournaments. Electronic Arts, one of the largest players, doubled its market value to almost US$45 billion last year as a new era of steady, predictable revenue seemed at hand. Then, like a wrong turn in Pac-Man, it was game over.
The biggest names in games have stumbled this year as marquee titles flopped and online spending came up short. Electronic Arts shares tumbled 13% Wednesday after the company confessed that some of its biggest releases disappointed.