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The new gen's most important question: Who cares?
The new gen's most important question: Who cares? Exclusive
November 20, 2013 | By Leigh Alexander

November 20, 2013 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    85 comments
More: Console/PC, Programming, Design, Production, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



Continuing Gamasutra's series looking back at the past console generation, Leigh Alexander examines the cultural implications of a new generation of shiny black boxes.

Here is a hypothesis: right now, if I wondered about the precise depth of the HDMI ports on a PlayStation 4, there would be multiple outlets where that information exists. How stable is the optional living room stand accessory? Someone has reported on it. Here is a new console generation: We have exhausted our analysis of the hardware. We have fetishistically lavished attention on whatever details are available, because consumers want to know.

How many kinds of numbers do you need to know to be able to provide every possible detail about an Xbox One? Specifications: Resolution, USB, API, CPU, GPU, DDR3, esRAM. You have to learn to speak a second language. Teardowns, unboxing, hyper-attention to the guts of these brand-new machines, and fan-made detective work about what it must or mustn't be like to develop for. Someone is an authority on the message board. Someone else has derived unverified but viable previously-unseen details from a foreign language report.

The job of the press, lately, has been to reflect on the previous generation, to share memories. The awkward job of summarizing a mainstream product cycle with personal stories. We all have to do it. I mean. I felt I should have done it, but I struggled, honestly. It's not that I haven't before. I have a lot to say about playing games on old computers, and a lot to say about the omnipresence of 16-bit devices throughout my childhood, tucked under the misty 1990s television units in my home and the homes of my friends.

"I was that consumer"

I even remember buying a GameCube, during a financially ill-advised period (whose early college years aren't financially inadvisable?), with my boyfriend at the time, because we didn't feel like waiting for Resident Evil 4's exclusivity period to expire. That happened -- I was that consumer, who gouges a parched wallet to buy some new gadget for the sake of one game. I was a kid.

I have to remember this, though, because I look at the console market now as a journalist and find myself saying things like, "nobody's going to buy a five hundred dollar device for one game." People do. People also travel great distances to crowded, expensive game conferences and stand in cramped, hot, crowded lines for two hours to be the first to play a demo of a franchise sequel that releases only a few months from now. I used to be that person, but just because life has changed for me doesn't mean the world has changed for everyone.

Clearly, in a lot of ways, nothing has changed: We're greeting the new console generation the same way we have greeted every previous hardware generation -- with speculation, argument, team-sports style loyalty contests, exhaustive lists of inscrutable alphanumerical details. We offer sprightly retrospectives on the last generation, the tech innovations, the milestones. This is another console generation, just like every console generation. It's just the "next gen," marching onward as progress inevitably must.

In a lot of other ways, though, everything has changed, and our loyalty to a business-as-usual fashion of greeting a new round of hardware feels a little bit hollow, on a cultural level. I could join in; I have the vocabulary, history, memories to join in. It just wouldn't feel sincere. I'm not a kid anymore.

It's hard, complicated and inconvenient to perceive and admit the way the business, art and culture of games has left high-end next-gen product fetishism behind. Tech companies and publicly-traded publishers can't possibly accept that there are prolific and explosive alternatives to their long-held mode of business. They built the industry as it's widely understood, and led it through our childhoods to its current logical conclusion: Risk aversion, low quality of life for creators, flashy, monolithic "big reveals" that make us wince now that we're old enough to have a nuanced view of what 'cool' means.

"The things we've long felt loyalty to might go away"

If we get bored of that, and if we're finished with that, the industry as we know it doesn't march on, and the people who are used to making money don't make money. And the things we've long felt loyalty to might go away. So we do it, we celebrate, agree to be curious, and discuss how we might be getting hungry to buy. That's what they're supposed to do.

But the interesting games aren't coming from the mainstream. Everybody knows that. And developers don't have to work in environments that restrict their creativity and their quality of life anymore. Except for those devs who've been shut in the triple-A vault (developers on big games always tell me they never get time to play anything) most of the industry understands that "indie" is no longer a fringe element to be optionally celebrated or ignored, but a broad term that just means "I can make the games I want to make and possibly even earn a living at it."

In our recent installment of Ask Gamasutra, we talked about business decisions console manufacturers need to make to fit well in the modern environment. People will buy new hardware; there will always be people who care about brand-new, expensive franchise sequels. Ideally for the industry, there will be enough of the former to monetize the continued development of the latter.

I don't really expect that to come to pass, but my predictions aren't worth much; predictions aren't my job. I'm not especially interested in questions about whether the console is "viable" (although they are very good questions). I'm more interested in whether it's relevant. Not from the perspective of business model, corporate strategy, but in simple terms: How many of us really care about these things any more? How much do we really need to care about them?

So many of the developers I know at big studios, many of them people whose names you know, have said the same thing to me in the last couple years, conveyed off the record, dark as a guilty secret: I just don't care about triple-A anymore. It's not that they're going to retire, or start another career, as would have been their main options had they got frustrated with their jobs even a generation ago. They want to start their own studios. They want to set their own terms. They want to make something new. They've done three games in a franchise and they would do anything to not have to do another.

"It's unpopular to say you don't care about consoles"

"Is the indie revolution going to destroy the traditional business" is an incredibly simplistic question we've been hearing for years. The idea of a binary between "mainstream" and "indie" is ideal for drawing battle-lines between sets of values, but it's unplugged and useless.

Better instead to pragmatically evaluate how the business and culture of games have genuinely shifted. There are now many different ways to play games, and there are different ways to make money, and all of them are, with very few exceptions, more interesting than the traditional concept of the business where console is the main cornerstone.

It's unpopular to say you don't care about consoles, to suggest you don't need to care. It feels like disloyalty to the industry. But what's becoming clear, even if it feels controversial and treacherous to say -- even if it threatens the industry and its loyal consumers, galvanizes them to internet arguments -- is that the console business and the industry models that built it are no longer the main avenue for the medium of games. They're probably not even the most important, even though they remain the most visible to your average person.

They're definitely the least relevant. Our excitement about new hardware launches is knit together with our hunger for and expectation of progress, and the most progress just isn't happening in this space. I think deep down we know it. Here's another platform, and it's always great to have more platforms, but this isn't everything.

Who cares? That's the most important question the next-gen faces.


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Comments


David Navarro
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"But the interesting games aren't coming from the mainstream. Everybody knows that."

Do we? Apart from it being a bit of a tautology (things are mainstream by virtue of being mainstream, not experimental--that's not a phenomenon new to this generation), there's just as much herd-following pap coming out of the indie scene as out of the "mainstream" publishers.

"Who cares?"

I'm not going to speak for anybody else, but *I* do. I'm looking forward to explore what new properties emerge from the enormous power available to the new systems. Will it be as transcendental as going from 2D to 3D? No, but it will be interesting to see nevertheless.

Dane MacMahon
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The indie scene is reminding me of high school goths right now... "the cool, interesting people aren't sheep for that mainstream stuff man. Now play Gone Home or you're lame."

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Curtiss Murphy
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"But the interesting games aren't coming from the mainstream. Everybody knows that."

Could the author be any more cliche? If you tweak the words just slightly, the whole theme is the eternal cry of the elderly... "You whipper snappers! You don't know!" Go for a walk, find something that re-kindles your excitement for your industry. Else, you become a walking cliche, full of bitterness and down-your-nose judgement.

warren blyth
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Huh. I didn't think this editorial that controversial.

- I get excited about innovations in video games.

- I have zero expectation of innovations from Killzone:ShadowFall, Battlefield4, CallOfDuty:Ghosts, Assassin'sCreed4:BlackFlag, DeadRising3, Ryse:SonOfRome and ForzaMotorsport5.

I believe these are the core AAA titles people will use to show off their new PS4 or XboXone. Yes? Is it fair to believe they're the same old gameplay with some frills?

Are you guys really saying that these games are more interesting than indie games? (why? the graphics? the franchising?)

... Well, DeadRising3's smartGlass cellphone trick sounds innovative (not sure how deep it goes though). Forza's drivatar opponents might be innovative (or could be hype we don't notice). But when I look at what's exicting to me on both systems, it's: the meta puzzles of The Witness, the weird kinect dragon controls of Crimson Dragon, the humor of Lococycle, 3D management of a 2D bullet hell in Resogun , the shadow art meets gameplay of Contrast.

And when i hear some indie PC game requires total sensory deprivation in a gasmask, or a food gun - the urge to check it out is even higher. because it might actually be stretching the limits of what video games can do.

interesting games aren't coming from the mainstream. Everybody knows that right?

Dane MacMahon
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What you think is interesting is not necessarily what other people think is interesting.

Which is fine... great even, we're all different... but the editorial presents this with a certain condescension which is grating. "Some people are still kids who care," etc.

Francesco Maisto
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+1 to the "Who cares?" answer by David ^

Tomasz Mazurek
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There is a pretty simple reason why it's easy to be meh about the new consoles. For many years it was the hardware that kept pushing the possibilities of games forward. And new console generations were leading the pack in the technological race.

This has changed. In terms of rendering 3D scenes, technology has mostly matured. In the new generation we will see better textures, higher poly count models, better lighting and so on. This all is just an iteration on the previous gen technology and we can't even be sure if this will be fully utilized since currently game presentation is capped more by production costs then hardware capabilities. Also this time around the consoles are not raising the bar, they are just catching up to advances in PC technology. This is, of course, good since it will allow for easier development of multiplatform open world games and the like, but this is all technology we have already seen.

Lihim Sidhe
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After completing XCom: Enemy Unknown a couple months ago I put my Xbox in the closet for video games are anti-homework and anti-college (Example: Just one more game...). Even so when this semester does finally let up I'm more excited to hook my current 360 up than to purchase an XB1.

The reason is pretty simple - game mechanics evolve so slowly because developers are afraid to take chances because games for consoles are so expensive to make. Great another military shooter. Great another 3rd person shooter. That PS4 exclusive The Order? Fabulous... a 1st person shooter with a Victorian cyberpunk skin. Tens of millions of dollars to make these games that do essentially the same thing with a remixed story. I just don't care.

I'm the type of gamer that when I find an exceptional game of a certain type and genre, that's pretty much it. Limbo is my platformer. Dead Space 1&2/Alan Wake are my survival horror. Prototype is my open world nonsense. The Dishwasher & Scott Pilgrim are my side scrolling combat blowouts. Xcom is my strategy game. Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 is my first person shooter if only for the fact it came with a lot of value packed in.

If a game doesn't exceed the quality of the games I already have then I just can't be bothered. You know what game I play the most now? Puzzles & Dragons. I can play it in short bursts on the bus or wherever and it doesn't really interfere with me getting work done.

The new consoles are powerful no doubt but where is all that power going? Nowhere that exceeds the current gen games I already have. As I get more and more familiar with social and mobile games the locked away walled garden of consoles just doesn't have that same luster anymore.

That and I feel the new consoles released too early.

This will be the last gen of consoles as we know them.

Ann Ballien
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I agree with the broader points about how the new consoles are struggling for relevance etc. etc. (The viewpoint isn't as unpopular as the article claims.) As somehow who has, actually, bought new consoles for That One Game, I disagree that the practice is necessarily one I have to outgrow or for which I should be ashamed, because - well, simply, I _really liked those games._ Time is a more limited resource for me, so it does more sense in my situation to spend premium for that one game I'm really going to enjoy rather than a whole buncha other, cheaper games in which I'm not really interested and probably, for the most part, won't get around to playing. I'm not saying that everyone who's bought new consoles for the sake of one game made the best financial decision - but it _can_ be, if you're going to get enough economic utility out of it. (I know people who really like Resident Evil 4 to the point where, if that were the only game they ever played for that console, they would've gotten their utility out of their purchase.)

A W
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This console ware will not be about graphics, it will be about extra content and capable online functions. Games will have to work with the hardware to provide functions that players on said console prefer, like social sharing, party chat, messaging, TV capabilities, media tie end,DLC, and patch support. Graphics and resolutions are going to take a back seat really quickly this gen, because it's going to be hard to see a screenshot or moving picture of a game and declare it better on one console over another.

I believe games becoming more exclusive to a console will become increasingly larger this gen, even if a game is cross gen, more content on one console over the other may push people to purchase that game on one console over the other.

The question for the media will be whether they want to engage in "console war talk" or whether the want to just deliver the news as is.

warren blyth
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* this game war won't be about the graphics or the gameplay? really?

I think this is what Sony and Microsoft are pushing, but I really don't believe it.

* Also have trouble with the idea there will be more exclusive titles this gen- because with the cost to make a major franchise title, you'd want the coin available from both user bases.

DLC exclusives, and timed exclusives? sure. We'll see more of that. But it's only a deciding factor in "the war" for one audience.
Call of Duty seems like the biggest franchise around right now. And it's timed DLC exclusives matter, to the kind of people who play it - because they need to jump in day 1 and start leveling. If you're a month late, it's a pain in the ass to catch up.
but.
I think timed exclusives are irrelevant to games that aren't focused on competitive multiplayer. yeah?

I dunno. honestly struggling here, with your perspective. Not saying it's wrong. But I want it to be wrong, because it totally dimisses the things I seek in games and consoles (innovative controls and jaw dropping graphics).

Jarod Smiley
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Guys you need to get out of your bubble.

A million people cares about consoles lol...Are we ignoring the first day sales for PS4? The hype its generating? The fact that it hasn't even launched in European countries yet? Projecting 5 million units by early next year? I just dont understand this blog?

Are you trying to say people that care about consoles are in the minority? In comparison to what? This piece IMO is just masking a personal preference that's well worded. I'm sorry you guys don't have enough time to play through a bunch of games anymore, I really am, but there's still great experiences out there, and more to come. So what The Order looks like Gears in a new setting, I'm going to speak generally and state many people won't have a problem with that.

How different were the Spiderman movies, X-men, Avengers, Thor etc..? Yet they release and make millions every time because there's enough new there to justify watching it.

I think the blog and some of the comments are just being cynical at this point. Let people enjoy there consoles guys. Just the same way as you're stating "I'm not excited about consoles" I can say the same thing about these smartphone and tablet games. Consoles will be just fine IMO, and only online infrastructure will dictate if it's the last generation of them or not.

but hey, if this blog was for clicks, job well done...But I certainly don't share the sentiments. People like shiny new things, always will IMO, game consoles aren't an exception.

Michael Joseph
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Is it not significant that this lack of enthusiasm for an entire next generation of consoles has never really happened before?

Now you're saying I suppose that the lack of enthusiasm is a niche problem. Others have made this argument in the comments of another article.

Ok, but if it's a niche problem then what a niche it is! Industry insiders and reporters who've been playing games and then following and writing about this industry for 3 decades. Now maybe they're all just burnt out. Or maybe they're really on to something?

David Navarro
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"Is it not significant that this lack of enthusiasm for an entire next generation of consoles has never really happened before?"

The PS4 sales figures seem to indicate that this alleged "lack of enthusiasm" is more an issue among jaded journalists than the actual public.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Michael

"Is it not significant that this lack of enthusiasm for an entire next generation of consoles has never really happened before?"

I think it's important to note that your research and factual basis for this is: "stuff I read on forums and heard from my friends."

David Rosen
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I don't quite think you understand what's being said or even what you're saying (at some points). You compared movies to consoles... How? If you were to compare movies to games I could (sort of) see the comparison. However, people go see movies because each movie is invaluably different. The story-line isn't the same. The climax changes. The characters change. The same can be said about games. However, you can't make this comparison about consoles.

What's really being said here is that consoles are no longer the sole driving-force of the industry. They're not making changes. The sudden shifts and pushing forward in the industry in this decade is coming from the games themselves. God of War made a major impact when it debuted. It forever changed the way developers will think about designing an action game as well as how players will expect them to be. Halo repeated what GoldenEye did as far as changing the expectations players have for FPS.

Consoles will have their place in the industry for a very long time to come; but the excitement isn't about the console anymore. It's about where the "next big thing" will come from next. Where will the excitement come from next? ...it's in the games...not the hardware. This is true at least for now until we start playing our games LITERALLY in our living rooms instead of on our TV's. THEN...the console that makes that happen, will be the source of the excitement.

David Rosen
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Sure people went out and bought a PS4; but how many were standing in line over-night for a PS4? Hardly any from what I've seen/heard. If any...not nearly as many that stood in line for hours waiting on a PS2. "Lack of enthusiasm" doesn't mean the people don't want it. It means they're not DYING to have it. ...and honestly I agree. People aren't DYING for another 1080p console. They're DYING for something TRULY NEW.

Michael Joseph
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"Oh, it's just a few rabble-rousers, nothing to worry about!" sounds like some famous last words.

Leigh Alexander states that she is hearing this from long time AAA developers and not just her colleagues in journalism.

In this case maybe you are a little too quick to dismiss people as "jaded" rather than to try and understand where they are coming from.

And frankly, I would be very careful about reading the sales figures tea leaves this early! You have individuals buying stores' entire stocks of PS4s right now just so they can sell them on ebay leading up to christmas.

And the PS3 and xbox360 have installed bases over 70 million each. PS4 has a long ways to go yet. Let's revisit the sales numbers 6 months from now.

p.s. now if only we could sell 1 million microscopes a year leading up to christmas. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5fg64rmFHE

Kujel s
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Tardigades FTW!

Rob Wright
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There's a difference between the lack of enthusiam for gamers and for the game developers. The author's point deals with the latter, and wonders how long it will be before that eroding enthusiam within content creators works its way over to the audience.

As for the day 1 PS4 sales, I'll say this: I'm not surprised that Sony has a hardcore fan base of 1 million gamers willing to buy the console at launch. I am, however, surprised Sony was able to get 1 million units produced and on the shelves (as opposed to just 200,000 or so PS3s in '06). So while the hardcore fans have delivered an huge launch for this console, it will take a while before we can determine if console/Triple A fatigue is really setting in with gamers and not just with devs.

Michael Joseph
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yes that is entirely correct.

deleting the rest.

Dane MacMahon
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@ Michael

Be as snarky as you like, my point stands: your evidence that "this time is different!" is rooted in personal experiences and thought. There's nothing on any kind of grander scale showing that.

I remember people not getting new consoles at launch always belittling how important the new machines are pretty much every single time a new console came out. Later on, when more games and consoles are out there, people suddenly start talking about how awesome they are. That's just human nature.

Nothing this time is different outside of the indie crusade some journalists are on, and that's much more unrelated to consoles than people are acting like. If the PS4 pushed indies any harder you'd never hear about anything else.

Michael Joseph
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:)

Deleting for great justice!

Dane MacMahon
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@ Michael

I am only pointing it out because you are treating it as evidence of something. Wasn't trying to be personal, your reply just rubbed me the wrong way as it seemed pretty snarky.

In any event, I don't think it's any different this time compared to previous launches, outside of heavily indie-focused sites like this one. And I don't think indie is a console vs. non-console issue, despite the article framing it like it is.

Jarod Smiley
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Where is this lack of enthusiasm? In industry insiders and gaming "journalist"? I'm sorry, but gaming journalism is dying simply because developers and publishers are starting to promote more within.

Real people, the people who bought over a 100 million Wii's, 80 million each of PS3/360 are exciting about the next gen platform. Whether or not this snap/football things stick with X1 is debatable. Whether PS4 continues to have strong sells is questionable. I'm not saying the console market isn't facing any credible threats to its profitability. But why is there so much emphasis and weight being put on insiders and what gaming sites have to say when that group is not even close to the bulk of sales for these platforms? In fact, half of them are just mouthpieces for companies.

Case in point. Media said Knack sucked! 5/10 6/10 etc...Day one owners played the game and strongly disagreed, and lit twitch up with the complete opposite impressions. Everyone with enough free time can turn into a "reviewer" now and these gaming journalist are just going to become more and more unnecessary.

So sorry, but I don't care about any lack of enthusiasm from people inside the industry when the people who play the actual content (the consumers) are displaying the complete opposite.

Kujel s
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Brand loyalist are always first adopters and of course they will disagree with critics about exclusives. Come back in 6 - 12 months then we can talk about the lack of enthusiasm cuase right now the numbers aren't really giving us an accurate picture.

Dane MacMahon
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I disagree Kujel.

For one thing brand loyalty had nothing to do with my PS4 purchase. I wanted a new console to play new games on and I went with the cheaper, more powerful option. It had nothing to do with company loyalty.

Secondly, on Knack, it's a fun little game that hearkens back to Crash Bandicoot and other games of my teen years. Reviewers seem to hate it because they played it 12 hours in a row to review and it grew tiresome, which I can understand, but no consumer in their right mind will play it that way.

A W
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No he is right Dane. Brand loyalty is why first adopters adopt. I bought a Wii U because I know it will get a Zelda game, many people into Nintendo games did too, but a lot of 3rd party games on the Wii U didn't sell despite that. So can I conclude that its Nintendo band that makes the sales of the hardware, while everything else is just waiting for the saturation to be favorable, or is it that 3rd parties don't know how to make appealing games unless they have more and more teraflops to convince gamers otherwise? Knack Review scores where horrible, If I where Sony I would have went with another Sackboy game, yet another 3D Mario gets way better scores. It becomes show us what you got on next gen game play and not impress us with great next gen visuals.

We should wait about 6 months to a year to see how things chart form the beginning, because a rushes sales record is corrupted by the reseller market.

And BTW when you say you didn't by a PS 4 out of brand loyalty and then go on tho say you like Knack because it was like Crash Bandicoot form when I was a teen, don't you think that is a contradiction?

Dane MacMahon
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No, because I was a much bigger fan of Xbox last go around, and the one before that. While most of my friends were worshiping the PS2 I was playing Xbox all the time.

If you want to consider "I know more good games will come out on PS4" as brand loyalty then okay, sure, I feel that way. I don't think that is company loyalty at all though, I think that is awareness of the market and how these things work.

I got a PS4 on day one because I wanted to play a better version of Assassin's Creed 4 and I wanted to play Killzone because I like sci-fi shooters a hell of a lot. I got Knack free on Amazon. I also want to play Thief and Infamous in two months and don't want to worry about getting a console then.

In the end people want to play new games. Some people want to play them immediately and don't mind paying a premium, so they pay $60 on release day or get a console at launch and whatever else. They put a lot of money into the industry and we should thank them for it.

Tim Borquez
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For me, I would ask if less people care about triple A games vs indie, not the actual hardware, I think even if "consoles" were ever gone there would always be pre-built PCs where tons of people would buy the same one

Kujel s
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The personal computer is a dieing breed, tablets and smartphones are replacing it.

Jarod Smiley
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^Agreed...

Jonathan Martinez
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I see the "next gen" in these terms.

I've seen the console specs. They just barely exceed the specs of the gaming PC I built TWO YEARS AGO.

I've all but turned away from the Triple-A industry. There's just too many great games on PC, delivering new and innovative experiences, that devoting any mental energy to an industry that rehashes the same thing over and over again seems pointless.

The "console" I went with was the 3DS. It offered me something that my PC couldn't (gaming on the go) as well as exclusives I actually cared about playing. The current consoles don't really offer me anything I couldn't already have on my PC and many of the best console games are getting ported to PC.
Heck, with the architecture of these new consoles being more PC-like than ever, I expect to see more PC ports than ever before.

Honestly, I still haven't found a reason to get excited about the current gen's consoles (or the last one for that matter).
Maybe I'm just not in the target audience for them, as evidence by building my own gaming PC.
Maybe it's because it looks to be just "more of the same" but now with "social" things attached.
Maybe I lack any of the brand loyalty needed to want to buy a console on pre-order.
But whatever the reason, "next gen" will be even more irrelevant to me than the last one was.

David Pare
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"I've seen the console specs. They just barely exceed the specs of the gaming PC I built TWO YEARS AGO."

I'm also a PC gamer who builds his own computers and like you I don't have any interest in the next gen consoles but it's not a good comparison.

How much did you pay for that PC ? I guess around 800$ - 1000$ and that's because you built it yourself. The same computer fully built ready to use at my local store would be more than 1000$ and I have not included the monitor, keyboard, mouse, windows license, etc.

And every game won't run with the same performance so you have to set you own graphical settings for each game, update you're video card drivers, deal with compatibility problems, etc.

Explain that to the average consumer and then tell them they can play the same games on a 400$ console without having to worry about anything other than buying the games. I would be surprised if they choose the PC.

But like you said, we are not the target audience.
I love my PC :)

warren blyth
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well, the WiiU offers a lot of game experiences you can't get on your PC. but you don't care?

(i think my rant would read very similar to yours. except I bought a WiiU a couple weeks ago, because I wanted to see what they were doing with 2screens) (And so far: it's pretty weird. which excites my gizmo lust. "weird" gets me thinking and daydreaming. in the good way.)

Nooh Ha
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This author again seems to be translating personal opinion and anecdotal evidence into macro-economic industry trends conspicuously ignoring the wealth of data that paints a very different picture.

"the console business and the industry models that built it are no longer the main avenue for the medium of games...They're definitely the least relevant"

29m sales of GTA V across two old console platforms in its first 6 weeks, most at full price, would appear to suggest otherwise.

Rob Wright
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True, GTA V sold a ton of units, as have the latest Battlefield and Call of Duty.

But how often have gamers complained lately about the constant flow of Triple A sequels and recycled crap? The author's point is that developers are tiring of this practice, and as I posted here earlier, I think it's only a matter of time before that fatigue starts to really take its toll on the content, which will then of course take its toll on the audience. We haven't seen sales take a hit for the huge franchises, sure, but what about franchises? Hell, look at Square Enix ALONE: Sleeping Dogs, Hitman and Tomb Raider all performed under expectations (and two out of the three, I'd argue, were really good games). Look at how overall game sales overall have fallen, and how the Wii U has underperformed. I think there's a lot more going on than just how many PS4s and GTAs have sold.

Dane MacMahon
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The problems you're talking about above are more rooted in games such as Hitman not selling well enough to justify massive budgets, though. The problem is not "people don't want to play these games on a dedicated standard hardware device hooked up to a TV." Consoles aren't the problem you're having. After all, all those games were on PC too.

The budget issue can be tackled in numerous ways, from better development technology to using digital distribution, to outsourcing labor. Let's be honest, if four dudes in South America can make Zeno Clash and Zeno Clash 2 on their own in a basement then no one can really justify needing to spend 100 million dollars on a game that might only sell a million copies.

Budget refinement, tool refinement, digital sales instead of packaging, caterine to niche audiences, etc. etc. etc... none of this is PC or mobile exclusive, the previous consoles just weren't built as well to accommodate it. With new hardware, that's changing.

Consoles aren't the problem. People want to play pretty games on their TVs with minimal fuss. Consoles will always rule the roost for that reason.

Rob Wright
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True, consoles aren't the root issue. And the problems of game budgets and dev economics aren't exclusive to consoles. The question is, how badly will consoles be affected by a dropoff of Triple A titles (both in quality and units) if the devs are no longer inspired to product that kind of content? Consoles NEED those kinds of games to survive.

Furthermore, I'd argue that consoles are no longer the simplest and easier portal for gamers. I think it's just as easy -- if not easier -- to play mobile games on your phone or tablet. I know, I know -- mobile games aren't the same. But this is the trend the author is talking about: smaller studios, lower financial risk, less stress, more creativity....

Dane MacMahon
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There are enough AAA successes to make the consoles must-have items though. Even if Call of Duty, GTA, Assasin's Creed, Halo and others of their ilk are the only thing justifying new hardware... well, that's enough. Millions upon millions want to play those games and history shows they would rather buy a $400 console to do it than build a PC.

If everything outside of those blockbusters is a lower priced download that sells a lot less but makes a core audience happy, well... nothing wrong with that, and I don't see how it translates to consoles failing. The new hardware isn't just for graphics, it's also for marketplace improvements, patching improvements, media sharing, etc. etc.

Tablets will be a big competitor to consoles someday, perhaps, but not today. Not with those genres anyway, in a way that hurts console sales.

warren blyth
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Dane, you wrote: "There are enough AAA successes to make the consoles must-have items though"

In the article, Leigh wrote: "People will buy new hardware; there will always be people who care about brand-new, expensive franchise sequels."

you are in perfect agreement with that footnote in article.
but you seem to be overlooking the part where Leigh writes: "I'm not especially interested in questions about whether the console is 'viable' [...] I'm more interested in [...] How many of us really care about these things any more"

when she says "us" she means game developers. And she notes that many game developers don't care about developing for next gen consoles anymore.

Jim Bo
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Your right Warren she does state she is not discussing if it is viable, but if it is interesting. But, if not discussing viability, then what is her point?

Her point seems to be that console gaming is purely AAA centric and AAA games are boring.

But, isn't it a current trend that more AAA titles are coming to PC and more Indie titles coming to console?

It seems consoles are already trying to remedy the root cause of the attack by embracing more Indie gaming. But I wonder if embracing Indie games on console will change anyone opinions.

Jake

warren blyth
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I think she's just saying "Are developers (and press) excited about these new consoles because they're actually relevant to the modern gaming scene? Or are we blinded by nostalgia for the importance of past console generations?"

instead of starting another discussion about how business will play out (the "viable" angle), she's asking developers if they truly personally care.

(because it sure seems like the console business is no longer the main avenue for the medium of games, and it seems like most game developers are tired of working on big boring AAA games now that they can and go somewhere else)

Jeanne Burch
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I will buy the PS4 for That One Game I have been waiting for: Final Fantasy XV.

I bought the PS3 for That One Game I had to play: Valkyria Chronicles. After I played it, the PS3 became pretty much a brick for over a year. That was fine; Valkyria Chronicles was worth it, and eventually other games came along that I played.

So even though I now work as an instructor at a gaming school, I'm still THAT consumer. I don't see that changing any time soon.

warren blyth
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I think this article is about game developers, not consumers. The question is : do game developers care about developing for consoles anymore?

Brett Kampf
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Ha posted in wrong comment section. Please refer my earlier comment to correlate to the discussion of Rogue Like genre.

Dane MacMahon
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This site's superiority complex is reaching parody levels. The interesting games are the ones that sell 100,000 copies! The consoles are boring! Kids buy consoles for one game, not the wealth of games they will receive in the future as well!

I get the personalities involved, and I get that indie devs are a massive portion of the audience, but at some point you would think reality of the market would creep in just a bit.

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Rob Wright
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Damn, you guys are a tough crowd....and you're doing a great job of illustrating the author's point that it's unpopular to say you don't care about consoles.

Dane, to your point abou the reality of the market, I think there's room for differing perspectives. Yes, millions of people play consoles and love them. But I don't think the author's point about declining interest in Triple A games -- which again, consoles are HUGELY reliant on -- should be dismissed or even taken lightly. It's not like there aren't warning signs, like this one:

http://business.time.com/2013/02/11/game-over-why-video-game-cons
ole-sales-are-plummeting/

Dane MacMahon
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I'm not defensive of consoles, I didn't even own a modern one until a week ago. I probably am defensive of the "mainstream" game genres, because I enjoy playing them and all this pinky-waiving too cool for school stuff comes across as arrogant elitism to me. Wake me when Super Meat Boy has even one tenth the cultural relevance of a moderate console success like Hitman.

And I don't see a drop in interest for AAA games, not at all. I see a drop in interest in mid-tier games, because publishers aren't budgeting or selling them properly.

Rob Wright
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Dane, I'm sure you'd admit that cultural relevance doesn't necessarily make something better. Furthermore, how are we measuring that relevance? Hitman Absolution is surely relevant, though not entirely in a positive way (trailer controversy, mixed critical reception). Also, it sold 3.6 million copies with a huge franchise name and major marketing muscle behind it. Super Meat Boy sold 1 million copies with, I think with can agree, much, much less behind it.

I guess my point is, I don't think it's elitism or arrogance or a "superiority complex" to provide an alternate perspective on what's happening with the gaming industry right now.

Dane MacMahon
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It's not, but that's not what I have a problem with. What I have a problem with is an article which talks down to people who enjoy mainstream console games as if they are kids who haven't grown out of it yet. It's a smug, superior attitude that ignores the fact that even a relative failure like Sleeping Dogs still sold a lot more copies than the biggest indie darling out there, ignoring Minecraft.

I'm far from a Call of Duty or nothing guy, and I have made arguments about things the AAA and console markets need to fix before. That doesn't mean I am on board with some of the articles here lately which seem to think anyone who prefers Assassin's Creed to Gone Home is a complete idiot whose days are numbered because the revolution is coming.

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Rob Wright
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Dane....I think you are, for whatever reason, putting words in the author's mouth and reading WAY too much into this column. You're making is sound like Leigh just wrote that consoles are dying and that Triple A games are finished. Please read the following:

"People will buy new hardware; there will always be people who care about brand-new, expensive franchise sequels. Ideally for the industry, there will be enough of the former to monetize the continued development of the latter."

She also wrote that she doesn't expect that to change, that consoles will still be viable, but from a creative perspective the question is, are they and the blockbuster games they rely on so much as relevant as they once were. I think it's a fair question to ask, and I honestly don't see how you're confusing it with a hit piece on fans of consoles and Triple A games.

Ardney Carter
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"That happened -- I was that consumer, who gouges a parched wallet to buy some new gadget for the sake of one game. I WAS A KID."

"I could join in; I have the vocabulary, history, memories to join in. It just wouldn't feel sincere. I'M NOT A KID ANYMORE."
(emphasis added)
No need to put words in anyone's mouth when they say it themselves. She clearly states her feelings that anyone buying ino the next gen consoles this early is doing so only out of youthful ignorance. But it's ok, maybe they'll grow up like she did... one day.

The condescension is palpable and it's understandable Dane reacted negatively to it.

As far as whether anyone cares about the next consoles and will they be around for another generation? Yes I care...I bought a Wii U. And if Nintendo can hang around and continue to put out consoles that people buy I'm sure the other guys will be fine as well.

Rob Wright
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"She clearly states her feelings that anyone buying ino the next gen consoles this early is doing so only out of youthful ignorance."

Holy crap.....she wrote nothing of the sort.

But okay, Ardney, I'll play along. Let me see if I've got this straight -- the author states she's lost interest in a certain king of gaming, and you immediately jump to that being a judgment on those that still enjoy that kind of gaming? Really? So if I say that I've outgrown most Nintendo games and no longer have the interest in playing RPGs like Zelda that have no real dialogue or adult themes because i'm not a kid anymore (all of this is true, BTW), then that means I'm hating on everyone that loves Nintendo and Zelda? Is my condescension palpable? Or am I simply expressing my opinion and my own personal preference for games?

Arman Matevosyan
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@Dane and @Rob

I'm right there with you Dane. It seems that Ms. Alexander has taken a shot at every major release that core gamers have been looking forward to.

Bioshock Infinite? She describes it as "wasted Disney caricature" and an example of what not to do with storytelling. Last of Us? She's says "it's the least we should expect from gaming." GTA V? She calls it a sad tragedy because there was no female lead. PS4 sells 1 million units? She responds with "who cares?"

Call me crazy, but I see a trend here. Every time we get excited about a major release, and it turns out to actually be successful, Ms. Alexander is the smug hipster in the room with her contrarian hat on. I understand she does not want to be the hundredth author to lay praise, but it seems she should do a better job developing accurate criticism. From where I'm standing, her articles are unpersuasive and presumptuous.

The only difference I see with this piece is that fewer white knights are doing the mental gymnastics needed to defend the author's viewpoints in the comments section. At least I know I'm not the only one that sees through the smoke and mirrors.

Ardney Carter
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@Rob
Actually, let's not start with your example as it shifts the discussion away from the context of the words the author used. Discussing thematics is one thing however gaming hardware is devoid of themes. It's just hardware.

Stating that you aren't in a rush to purchase the new consoles is one thing. There are plenty valid explanations for such a stance too (cost, reliability, depth of library, etc.). 'I'm not a kid anymore', as a reason for not making a hardware purchase carries all sorts of judgements with it however.

She then extends the 'I'm not a kid' reason to be the basis behind her refraining from joining the discussion surrounding the new consoles. Again, there are perfectly valid reasons for not joining the hype particularly if you don't plan on purchasing early. But to say your reason is that you are not a kid, again, carries with it judgements about those that do these things.

"I do not purchase hardware for a single game because I'm not a child".
"I will not join in this discussion about game hardware specs because I'm not a child"

For each statement the implication is clear: I have become an adult and therefore this precludes me from engaging in that behavior because adults do not do those things. To me, that reads as unnecessary condescension.

Now lets' revisit your example. If I were to ask you if you planned on getting the latest Zelda game and you were to say "Nah, the dialogue isn't deep enough for me" or "I'm not really in the mood for the fantasy theme it's got going" we might be able to use that as a starting point for a discussion RE: themes in games and the merit/necessity/definition of "adult" themes in games or other entertainment media. If, however, your response was "No, I'm not a kid" I guarantee you there would be no productive discussion to follow.

Rob Wright
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"I do not purchase hardware for a single game because I'm not a child".
"I will not join in this discussion about game hardware specs because I'm not a child"

Searching for the quote in her column.....hmmmmm....can't seem to find it....still searching.....

Hey, here's something she actually wrote:
"I used to be that person, but just because life has changed for me doesn't mean the world has changed for everyone."

Wow, that statement is just loaded with judgment and condenscension.

Rob Wright
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I knew we'd get there at some point: the shots at the author. The smug hipster! The contrarian just posting linkbait! The fact that she's not a fan of some big blockbuster games. Oh gawd, the horror! She didn't like BioShock Infinite!

@Arman, if you find the arguments unpersuasive, here's an idea: make a counter-argument. Do you care? Well, then by all means, tell us why.

Oh, and by the way, I do care about new consoles. I actually like some blockbuster Triple A games (though not BioShock Infinite, I thought she was spot on there). But what I find compelling about her column is the notion that a growing number of developers may not care anymore, that they're suffering from console fatigue and that they feel there are better outlets for their content. That worries me. And that point seems to have gotten lost here in the discussion.

P.S. Can I be considered a honory White Knight of the Alexander Order, or is there some application process I don't know about?

Ardney Carter
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The quotes you are using now was me paraphrasing for the sake of clarity of argument. Remember that that 2nd post of mine was in response to your disagreement with the 1st which was itself a rebuttal to your claim that Dane was inventing intent for the author. So, again, for clarity sake I will post the original quotes and then the paraphrase.

"That happened -- I was that consumer, who gouges a parched wallet to buy some new gadget for the sake of one game. I WAS A KID."
(note that the context of the above quote was an anecdote about her purchasing a Gamecube solely for RE4 hence...)
[paraphrased]
"I do not purchase hardware for a single game because I'm not a child".

"I could join in; I have the vocabulary, history, memories to join in. It just wouldn't feel sincere. I'M NOT A KID ANYMORE."
(note that the context here is her declining to engage in what she terms the"business-as-usual fashion of greeting a new round of hardware" which was described, partially, earlier in the article as the "Teardowns, unboxing, hyper-attention to the guts of these brand-new machines, and fan-made detective work about what it must or mustn't be like to develop for." She then states that any attempt to participate would ring hollow for her since she is "not a kid anymore". Hence...)
[paraphrase]
"I will not join in this discussion about game hardware specs because I'm not a child"

Now examine that objectively and you will find I have not put words in the author's mouth but instead used what she wrote, in context, and reasonably derived meaning from it. And I was not alone in detecting that meaning in the tone of the article.

Arman Matevosyan
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@Rob make sure your tantrum subsides before reading my response.

I did provide counter arguments. I just did them on their respective articles (where they belong) and won't be repeating them here.

Here are the steps for being a White Knight:

(1) Trip over yourself in a hurry to dismiss criticism of the author's articles in the comments section.
(2) Stoop to tactics like "I knew we'd resort to shots at the author" and "chill out--you're reading WAY too much into this article" any time you run out of rational responses.
(3) Throw out unrelated straw man arguments to prove a point.
(4) Be condescending in defense of a condescending author.

In other words, keep doing what you're doing.

Arman Matevosyan
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@Ardney I see your point.

Jim Bo
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"Different strokes for different folks"
-Something my Grandfather used to say.

As a console gamer I am going to briefly outline why I continue to game on my console. They might not be for everyone, but maybe this will help some people understand the use case.

1) I like consoles for the same reason I like tablets: Small, sleek, simple, and I can use it on my couch.

2) $400 dollars actually doesn't seem like that much to me for a device that I will be using for 4-8 years.

3) I like gaming on my couch and my TV.

4) PC gaming is interesting to me, but not enough to make me have a big clunky wire-filled PC. It seems like a very excessive amount of hardware to have just so I can play video games. I just use my tablet and I have an old laptop in drawer that I use when I really need a keyboard.

5) If not doing mobile gaming, I still vastly prefer larger screens for gaming rather than using my phone/tablet.

Again, I *KNOW* console are not for everyone. But I get the distinct feeling some people are really wondering "Are consoles for anyone?".

Jim

Dane MacMahon
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On the PC front you can experience 95% of it's quality exclusive experiments if you spend slightly more on your next laptop and get one with a decent mobile GPU. That will allow you to play all the classics and most of the new indie stuff with few exceptions.

And I say that as a PC gamer with a huge box of wires 6 inches from my leg right now.

Jonathan Jennings
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I still adore consoles personally, without console gaming I may not have gotten into gaming much later in life and numerous console games were and are my inspiration for learning how to develop games in the first place . with that said honestly the hardware malfunctions from last generation and my own personal satisfaction with the PS3 and xbox 360 make it hard for me to want to jump to the next gen right away . Sure I could spend $400 and get a new console but since none of the games offer incredibly new experiences ( which is to be expected of launch titles ) it just makes it hard to spend the money on something that isn't extremely different form what's sitting in my living room already .

Saying that , boy is it hard to resist the urge to play with the latest and prettiest in gaming though .

Dane MacMahon
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Genuine question: what kind of difference are you looking for?

Jonathan Jennings
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I guess something bigger something that says " Only the PS4 /xbox one could handle an experience like this"! even then I kind of feel like the xbox 360 and ps3 weren't really pushed to the brink or that they couldn't offer ever growing and more awesome games themselves.

As someone else said limitations on games aren't really hardware based anymore, they are based more on budgets . It may be old thinking but If i'm spending money on a new console I would love for it to blow me away the way seeing gears of war blew me away when i was playing the xbox . or the way tekken tag and extreme G-3 racing blew me away while I was still playing my ps1 .

but even saying that I guess those games were possible on the previous platforms , just not as shiny as they were on the platforms they were made for .

Dane MacMahon
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Solid answer.

I don't think there very far to go in pure visuals or whatever, though. We already have massive open worlds, we already skirt the line of the uncanny valley. Killzone Shadowfall looks super nice with great draw distance, crisp visuals and amazing lighting, but yeah at the end of the day it's a prettier Killzone 2. I don't know if there's anywhere to go from prettier Killzone 2 that makes sense for the market.

The real improvements are going to be elsewhere. Sony is pushing indies and an amazingly eclectic digital storefront. Microsoft is pushing Kinect and the TV inegration stuff. The RAM should help more games have more going on at once.

Maybe I'm wrong though and the next Assassin's Creed will blow people out of the water, who knows?

James Coote
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Putting AAA aside for a minute, there is a big nostalgia factor when it comes to Indie devs and the sort of content they produce for consoles. Retro aesthetic platformers aren't going to bring in a markedly different audience from what AAA pulls. How many Indie devs are going to experiment with smartglass or motion control?

Kujel s
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With MS's indie program I suspect at least a few indies will experiment with motion control, smartglass not so much.

TC Weidner
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It all comes down to gaming experience. We all game and play for the "fun experience" it allows for.

computer/video gaming can be slotted into different levels of experience pretty easily.

1) amusement park/arcade like experience - its becoming more rare but these expensive experiences have always been the highest tech and involved experiences.

2) Desktop Gaming- wonderfully powerful and versatile

3) Laptop Gaming- the close relative of desktop gaming, but usually just a little less powerful do to size/gpu etc restraints.

4) Console gaming- the poor mans living room desktop rig. Plays great games at a great price and is very user friendly

5) Tablet gaming- getting more popular and does have a lot of room to grow, but are lacking in controls etc

6) Handheld gaming- powerful and mobile , but with little screens, power restraints and so forth, its the mobile cousin of the console.

7) Smart phone gaming- versatile, mobile and wide spread. Tons of users but with many restraints compared to other gaming tech. Growing quite fast.


so there you go. For consoles to die? something would have to replace that gaming experience niche in the market. I dont see what takes it place as an affordable and powerful full gaming experience in the living room.

To be honest, none of these techs are going anywhere, they all fill gaming needs. As new tech comes, it doesnt kill old niches, it just creates a new one of its own. Example. When the Oculus Rift hits, it wont take anyone place, it will just create a new gaming experience at the top between 1 and 2, a 1a if you will.

Jonathan Murphy
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This is the first console gen where there is no graphics/gameplay leap on launch. Leap is coming(graphics and performance by 10-100x), no hardware changes are needed, give us time. Congrats to SoE, and the others who actually did take it serious, and you'll see what I mean next year.

Here's a crazy idea on what would have helped. Backwards compatibility with fully stocked virtual stores day one. It's about the games!

John Flush
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+1 to this. For instance, I'm in the market for a 2nd X360. My kids are now controlling the one I have, but I would like my own in 'the man cave'. This should be the year I say, Xbox One here I come and I have next gen and a second X360.

But not so. Instead I'm looking at black Friday deals for a cheap X360 instead. I just don't buy a console until there are enough games on it. and BC made that happen.

On another front I would already own a PS4 for the opposite reason. I have skipped the PS3, but I would easily convert in a heartbeat if the message was "Here is the PS4, and the entire library of the PS3" - but I get it. They needed to change the architecture for the long term and cost... maybe the next next gen I'll catch up with the Xbone or PS4 finally...

Dane MacMahon
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I'm a huge proponent of backwards compatibility, for preservation reasons if nothing else, but I understand the logistics that make it prohibitively expensive.

Aleksander Adamkiewicz
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"This is the first console gen where there is no graphics/gameplay leap on launch."

I recently did a comparison of previous console specs at launch compared to the most powerful PC hardware available to the public (gfx cards, processors, ram, HDD)

In the case of the original XBOX the raw spec power-differential between the console and a ultra high-end PC in 2001 was roughly ~10% (favoring the PC) which was easily surpassed with software optimization.

In the case of the XBOX 360 in 2005 the differential is roughly ~20% (favoring PC), also easily surpassed by software optimization.

In the case of this generation and the PS4, the differential is roughly ~250% (favoring PC), something that can not be surpassed with optimization. I mean theres only so much you can do with the computational power and amounts of RAM alloted in a closed system.

Even given that most people do not have ultra high-end machines in their homes, this generation already starts out limping due to the raw power differential. The specs of the PS4 are roughly equivalent to medium-end gaming-PCs as polled by the most recent Steam Hardware Survey. The most popular cards are the nvidia 600/700 series and AMD equivalents, the most popular CPUs are 2-3ghz 2-4+ cores, RAM is 4-8gb with 8GB becoming the standard very fast, and SSDs are becoming the standard as well even though a large part of the HW is still SATA 2+.

In conclusion while in 2001 and 2005 the consoles out-performed most of gaming PC, the PS4 and consorts barely out-performs this generations standard gaming PC.

Considering Moore's Law, the PS4 will have roughly 4-5x less computing power than a PC in the middle of its life-cycle (if the assumed desired HW-cycle of 7-10 years is to be repeated).

Of course its not -just- about power, however the computational differential is a clear disadvantage, especially with comparable PC hardware quickly dropping in price. This will create a situation where the Steam Box or other PC-based gaming solutions might be as powerful for a similar price next year, introducing hard competition that might massively shake up the market and the consumers approach to purchasing hardware.

Jonathan Murphy
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The hardware is there. The software is not! I keep my posts short so you can see me say stuff like that. A graphics leap is coming in software.

Moore's Law is crap! Tech growth hits walls until other tech around it leaps. You can't get everyone a flying car without a leap in force fields, and or gravity fields. NEVER EVER measure progress in time. It's measure in breakthroughs.

warren blyth
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* From a game developing perspective - I wish they'd split off a grouping from "indie games" and call it "innovation games."

I'm not really interested in those indie game that wants to recreate the simplicity of games from my childhood. But i'd like to try every game that seeks to innovate.

* To address the article's core point: I have zero interest in trying to get my games onto next gen consoles. And I think taking a job at a major studio, or contract work at a third party asset house, is a bad career move.
In much the same way that I have zero interest in trying to get my videos and animations onto major network channels. And taking a job at a major studio, or doing third party contract work for an FX house, is a bad career move.

Don't need 'em. Don't care for 'em.

Ben Adams
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We can theorise endlessly about the relevance of the new consoles but ultimately its simple.

Big budget AAA (and the consoles that run them) is just mass-market corporate led games development. Designed, and tweaked to the nth degree, to extract cash from the sort of people who watch and enjoy Michael Bay films.

So, are they relevant? If you have any interest in creativity, of course they aren't.

Martin Pettersson
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That is a great analogy. And it's interesting that the same thing is happening in cinema. Endless sequels and big flashy action movies. The only difference is now AAA game budgets are consistently rivaling and even surpassing those of big budget movies. The big consoles are quickly becoming the consoles of the equivalent of Michael Bay and superhero movies.

David Navarro
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I don't know if you're old enough to remember the '80s, but "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose".

A W
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Indeed David N.

Ben Adams
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The 80s was at least more generally a more optimistic time!

Perhaps I am viewing the 80s through rose-tints though...

Dave Long
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If the contention of the author is that consumer interest in consoles is dying out, that's easily rebutted by the facts - pre-orders for next gen are incredibly impressive, and current-gen machines continue to sell well, as do their games. Yes, there was a post-Wii dip that happened at the start of the 'long tail' for the PS3/360 that freaked a few people out, but the Wii was not a statistical trend, it was a blip.

If the contention of the author is that developer interest in consoles is dying out, then it's possible to get data for that as well. How many people are developing AAA console titles, and how easy is it to get a job working at one of these studios? If, as the author contends, no one cares, then requirements (in terms of qualifications and experience) for working at a place like DICE, Infinity Ward of Sony Santa Monica should be at an all time low, and the number of candidates for these jobs likewise. Is this the case? If yes, the author has a good point. If no, then the author is reflecting from inside a 'video game hipster' echo box.

Another metric would be looking at whether the new consoles were drawing in more developers. It's obviously early days, but there look to be more indie games coming to console in the next twelve months than at any other time in console history, and no let up in AAA games. The Witcher 3 will be launching on console, the first in the series to do so (Witcher 2 turned up on the X360, but well after launch), even the PC banner-waver Star Citizen has said that if the platform holders will play ball (noting that the requirements they set are already being met by Sony for War Thunder) they'll bring it to console.

If you take the evidence to the assertion, it just doesn't hold up. That doesn't mean it's not worth having the discussion, of course - scientific thought is based off far more false hypotheses than ones that hold true - but in this case, I'd argue the author's hypotheses doesn't hold water in the face of the available evidence.

What is particularly odd about the article is that it treats consoles as if they are inherently a different breed of game platform than everything else. For example, iOS is the preferred mobile platform for developers due to far greater standardisation of hardware and lower piracy (and don't forget Apple takes a console-platform holder chunk from sales on its platform). But for some reason these same characteristics are negatives when applied to the living room/high TDP (one of the reasons tablet/mobile will never match PC/console - it has to get by on a fraction of the power) gaming space?

Don't get me wrong, I've read the author's work for years, and think they are a fine writer (although with a tendency to put a bit too much weight on their personal opinion when discussing an issue, as evidenced again in this article - noting that everyone, everywhere colours their writing with personal opinion, even if it's just in what they choose to write about, so this isn't some kind of cardinal sin), but this particular article seems more about the author personally, than the industry more generally.


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