Now the next generation is well and truly here Rhys Thomas Elliott looks back at how gaming has changed, for better or worse.
So the Xbox 360/PS3 generation is technically over. It was a generation that brought a lot to the gaming industry, both good and bad; here are a few of my picks for the best and worst things the 360/PS3 generation brought us.
GOOD: Wireless controllers
This is something that didn’t cross my mind until I played some N64 with a few friends over the summer. Traversing the living room felt like recreating a laser hallway scene in a cheesy action film. If we wanted to get past for any reason, we practically had to be become an acrobat; wires were left, right and centre. As much as I could do with the work out these days, I just love the neatness of wireless controllers.
BAD: Oh, it’s just a black and white, double-sided sheet… Thanks..
I miss detailed, coloured manuals. It’s so sad to see a few sheets black and white of paper with very bare bones information on them. When I was younger I’d love buying a game and then reading the manual on the journey home; I will always hold that feeling of excitement and wonder close. It’s a shame today’s kids will never get to experience this.
GOOD: The stigma of gamers as ‘losers’ is gone (almost)
Fifteen years ago people would think of a stereotypical gamer as an outsider of society: a geek, a nerd, a loser. The segregated line between gamers and everybody else has blurred, and I frickin’ love it. Society has almost fully accepted gaming now. Obviously the older farts in the partisan sphere are still pretty against it, but they’ll be *ahem* gone soon. Gaming SMASHED the box office towards the end of the 360/PS3 era. GTA V broke seven world records, including the fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion. It’s not just third party games that performed well though; over the summer here in the UK The Last of Us had allegedly grossed more than Man of Steel in its opening weeks. A first party Playstation game grossing more than THE FRICKIN’ NEW SUPERMAN MOVIE; if that’s not an exemplar of the popularity and acceptance of gaming today, what is?
BAD: I just bought a full game… right?
I’m sick of buying a game, only to have to wait for a 10 minute patch to download because they released it buggy and broken. Sure, DLC can be great when it adds to the experience, it’s just when publishers (and even developers) hold back ready content just to make a quick buck that can be infuriating. We are paying quite a bit of money for these video games. I want the full package on day one, with nice extras along the line if I want them. We are now even being charged for things that used to be FREE: extra skins, characters and even cheats. It is ridiculous. Not only that, the increasingly popular ‘free-to-play’ model is being implemented into games we paid 40 quid for. Even Rockstar dabbled with this model in GTA V, with the ability to purchase online GTA dollars with real cash.
GOOD: Plenty of storage capacity.
These days we hardly have to think about our save files. 500GB Hard drives and the Cloud more than do the job of holding every save file we could dream of (even including DLC, movies and entire game downloads). One story in particular comes to mind from my Gamecube days. It came down to the decision of deleting my 100 hour plus Animal Crossing file or my beloved Wind Waker file. Those days are forever gone now.
As you can see this generation has added many cogs to the machine, some progressive and some regressive. Only time can tell what the new PS4/Xbox One generation will bring to the table. The recent unveiling of Sony’s gaming streaming service Playstation Now has certainly caused a stir in the gaming industry though, boasting the ability to stream the entire Sony back-catalogue for a subscription fee (pricing TBA). Spotify and Netflix are having huge successes with streaming models in the music and television/film industries respectively, and it seems that the gaming industry is beginning to follow suit. If this model works, the gaming industry will be a vastly different space in ten years. We may not even need consoles.