When the big 3 announced their respective consoles for this generation way back when there, it was impossible not to be impressed by what was under the hoods. Multi-cored processors, graphics cards loaded with video RAM, the ability to connect to almost any media peripheral you could throw at them... the list goes on and on. There’s no doubt the technological leap was real- more than a matter of increasing polygon counts and tacking on another hundred yards to the draw distance.
But these treats came with a trick, and the trick was that to utilize these shiny features required serious development. More money, more time, more everything. Projected game budgets began creeping up, and some people worried that only the EAs of the world would be able to effectively hawk their wares. Similar to the Hollywood studio system in many respects already, this generation pushed them in that direction harder than ever. Gamers worried that, like movies, games would become total committee projects. Why make something as unique as Ico
and take a chance that you wouldn’t recoup the budget, when Madden 2008
is ready to go, with a target audience already built into the packaging? Sure, the reward might be higher- to go back to the movie metaphor, there could always be a Blair Witch Project
or My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- but the risk is so much greater. Whereas, of course, Spiderman 3
would clean up no matter what happens.
I’m generally optomistic about the future of console & PC gaming. I think that, to some degree at least, gaming companies have seen the decline in film’s fortunes and noted the causes of that dropoff- a main one being the quality of the product. There comes a point when people just stop giving a shit about being trapped with Robin Williams in an RV
, or watching Ice Cube take his family to wherever the hell they were going in Are we there yet
?, or following yet another Rob Schnider “I’m a dumb as hell underdog” crapfest. The prices of the tickets have gone up, while the quality has gone the complete opposite direction. Which is down.
So it’s a reasonable concern that the game prices will go up, the core players in the market will eventually monopolize any intellectual properties worth snapping up, and we’ll all be stuck buying Sam Fischer’s Cart Racing
for our Nintenbox 720.
That said, at this point in this gen’s lifecycle, I’m satisfied. Sure, there have been some clunkers, but the good thing about these high prices is that it forces people to do some modicum of research into what they’re buying, and if it sucks, it stays on the shelf. Anyone remember Enter the Matrix? Oh, right, you didn’t buy it. Me neither. Probably for the same reason- you read it was shit, heard it was shit, or played it at an EB and saw for yourself that it was shit. Or all three. Gamers do a much better job of separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to building their libraries or choosing their entertainment. There’s also no exclusivity time- there’s no window in which you have to buy the came to play it (as with movies in their theater runs). It’s out for rent when it’s out to buy. It’s up at demo stations in every retail store. You’ve got ample opportunity to try before you buy.
Thus, as I take time to write this after a session of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
, before I head out to Obvlivion
, and while checking my World of Warcraft
for the time of our next raid, I’m a happy man. E3 further bolstered my belief that there are too many talented people doing too much great work for videogaming to go into the Downward MovieSpiral anytime soon.