In 2016 Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States after what some may describe as a very controversial campaign, and that’s putting it nicely. Regardless of your opinion on Trump the fact is his Presidency will affect all of us in some way; positively or negatively depending on your moral and political views. It comes as no shocker since taking Office, Trump has made some questionable and controversial moves as President. Those include the recent Muslim Ban, appointing Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, his cabinet appointees, and most recently the revelations that his campaign may have ties to Russia. This article won’t focus on the issues listed above as they’re already the primary focus of the media, but instead will give an objective look at how Trump and his economic policies will affect the gaming community, mainly from a consumer perspective.
From a historical perspective we all should be worried about the makeup of the legislative and executive branch of government. Most economic experts will agree that our country is at its best when one political party doesn’t control all branches of government, there is more optimism and people are more willing to take a chance financially than if one party controlled all branches that would create more pessimism. However, history has shown us whenever republicans control the senate, the house, and the presidency our country usually experiences a financial crisis. Most notably the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the Great Depression. It should go without saying the above scenarios are bad, and deeply impacted the consumer market. In fact, most gaming reporters believe the 2007-2008 financial crisis contributed to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 lasting longer in their respective console generations. You may say “well, that’s history and we learned from our mistakes.” Did we? As it stands right now Trump is looking to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act which was signed into law to create more accountability and transparency in the financial system, and to end “too big to fail” banks, and to protect the American taxpayer. Basically, undo anything which could prevent a repeat of 2007-2008. Considering how expensive a hobby video gaming is this could greatly impact the consumer market and effect gaming developers at all levels.
In his inauguration Trump pledged “America First” and with his stance on immigration, The Wall is a classic definition of a Protectionist. Along with his plans to place tariffs on any good imported and sold in the United States, the cost of those tariffs will trickle down on the consumer. Video game software and hardware will be effected by this and considering the recent flourish of consoles and innovations in video game culture, like VR for example, it could have a negative impact on the sales of these items. While nothing has happened yet in terms of tariffs being placed, consumers should be prepared to expect an increase in the cost of software and hardware should the Trump administration follow through on their promise to heavily tax imported goods. There have been examples where extreme tariffs have caused Sony and Microsoft to develop in countries like Brazil where the tariffs are too high to import consoles and software there, while Nintendo just avoids developing consoles and software for Brazil all together. I don’t think the United States will get anywhere near that extreme level, but there is no telling since this current administration is unpredictable.
One glaring issue concerning possible tariffs is it’s unclear who the extra cost in development will come down on. It will definitely effect the consumer, but it’s unclear if the publisher or a game manufacturer will incur the cost since most use materials from outside the United States to develop retail copies of their merchandise. It’s also unclear the amount Trump will tax on imported goods, as numbers have ranged between 20-45% depending on the country Trump talks about.
Regardless of your opinion on President Trump the one thing you have to find admirable about his protectionist views is the fact he is wanting to help the American worker. While if that’s true or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, gamers should prepare themselves for the likelihood that we might see a percentage increase in the cost of hardware and software to the worst where another financial crisis makes this hobby unaffordable for some. If you don’t like this possible scenario, the best advice I can give is get out and vote for the midterms in 2018 to keep our country more bipartisan.