Published on July 20th, 2012 01:25
Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 during holiday 2005. The industry is fast approaching seven full years of current generation gaming - an unthinkable number for many game industry executives pining for a new round of hardware to spark the marketplace and enable new intellectual properties to flourish. In fact, a recent conversation between analyst Michael Pachter and EA CEO John Riccitiello indicated that the publishing executive had been anticipating new consoles to hit the market as much as two years ago, and this extended console cycle is partly to blame for EA's stock price woes.
Moreover, tech experts like Square Enix's Julien Merceron have gone on record with GamesIndustry International to note that this generation "has been way too long." He called out Microsoft and Sony for dragging the console cycle into its eigth year as the "biggest mistake they ever made." Merceron believes that many developers who had been waiting for next-gen hardware jumped ship to other platforms, particularly digital ones like iOS, Android, Facebook and Steam, and those game designers may never return to consoles.
So is Merceron right? Have Sony and Microsoft fumbled the ball, or is this actually one of the better things to have happened to the games industry in a long time? GamesIndustry International's global editorial team weighs in.
Has this cycle been too long? Look at it is this way, the PlayStation 3 came out in November 2006, about the time Mel Gibson's Apocalypto was released. It was so long ago that man still had a serious career. More relevantly, it was three years later before FarmVille even launched, more than 6 months before anyone even had an iPhone.
The world has changed, and our industry has changed, but the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (which let's not forget is even older) have stayed pretty much the same. Big dusty boxes designed for playing triple-A titles really well, and sort of muddling through when it comes to everything else.
Whole new business models have been conceived, carried and shot out into the birthing pool while Sony and Microsoft have eyed each other (and their accounts) carefully and decided to hold of on a new console for just one more year. Sure, they're working on them in some lab in the secret bunker, and unnamed developers, right now, have games in the works, but still they're holding off.
Maybe they think they can't afford to act, but the truth is they can't afford not to. A new console launch would bring back some love to the brands, allow them to open up to the new business models like free-to-play, and reinvigorate the market and the developers and publishers to create new games, and new franchises. Activision is set to release its eighth Call Of Duty title for this generation; don't tell me those dev teams aren't so desperate for a new machine to play with that they're self harming in the lunch hall.
I look at this with a bit of imprudence in that I have more games on this platform than I have ever had with any other. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 (I am ignoring the Wii to an extent without forgetting the fantastic first-party stuff and games like Okami) have brought us some games that I will never forget; Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Ace Combat and Red Dead Redemption remain in my gaming portfolio. Heck, I still own a PS3 that has Backwards Compatibility for my SOCOM and Ace Combat titles for the PS2.
"Sony and Microsoft's argument is they've turned their consoles into entertainment hubs, but I'm pretty sure I can order a Smart Fridge with Netflix streaming now"
Sure, most of these games will run on PC and they'll be playable for a good long while, but even with the noticeable tech differences (go play Mass Effect 1 again then pop in Mass Effect 3, you'll see), these games are substantial. This generation really made gaming a common thing for many, many people. I believe we should break past the uncanny valley, and I believe graphics have to improve only slightly...it is more on the tech side of creating less choppy character modeling and framerate issues. The hardware needs to change, yes, that's definitely something that has to happen.
Honestly though, we see a lack of new IP, we see a lot of struggling from all the major players in the industry. A new console line-up could definitely pump some blood into the industry, but just how effective is it going to be? I am very, very hesitant on what the future holds for gaming. I see more F2P, I see more mobile, but most of all I see more platform-agnostic games coming out. A new console cycle? Yes, but with caveats. We have to do more to push platform-agnostic titles and overall social connectivity between games.
I stopped playing games on my PlayStation 3 about 18 months ago and my Xbox 360 hasn't had much love this year apart from flings with Trials Evolution and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. The truth is I've lost interest in console games this generation. I'm playing on my iPad, I broke out the PSone recently, gave the Vita a second chance and even dabbled in PC gaming. I'm looking for kicks anywhere I can find them.
Sony and Microsoft's argument is they've turned their consoles into entertainment hubs, but I'm pretty