Embrace the changes.
Gamers. We’re a difficult bunch to please, possibly one of the most fickle demographics of people on planet Earth. Misguided by fanboyism, often ruled by previous prejudices and misled by corporate hyperbole.
Thanks to the Internet, we have access to thousands of opinions on literally every subject; when you include the huge reach of media outlets and viral nature of social media, it’s all too easy to be guided astray from your own thoughts and beliefs about a particular game, franchise or hardware.
During the early 90s, I remember never knowing the full benefits of buying a particular console or game over another – and as a kid I simply didn’t care. Buying a console came down to one thing and one thing alone: the games library. Because as a kid, that’s all that mattered, not to mention the fact that broadband didn’t exist back then – a dodgy dial-up connection was the only option.
It’s all too easy to be guided astray from your own thoughts and beliefs about a particular game, franchise or hardware.
But can you honestly say that all that matters today from your gaming experience is solely the games? I used to believe that, but not anymore.
As each generation passes, the technology and connectivity of our consoles has vastly improved. I remember the first time I connected my Dreamcast to the Internet to play Phantasy Star Online; I was shocked at what I was witnessing. This was gaming history in the making and the knowledge I was playing with people from other parts of world was mind-blowing. Then along came the Xbox and Xbox 360 and the huge success of Xbox Live.
And from that day forth better online connectivity is now vitally important to me. There’s also other areas that must capture my attention: the ability to enjoy different types of media quickly, a modern interface, the controller, motion and voice activated controls and clear innovation. My purchasing decision is far more thorough and complex than it used to be.
How many of you use your console to watch Netflix or play Blu-Rays? I’m guessing quite a few. And when you consider which console to get next, don’t you want to get the most out of those experiences as well as having a decent library of games? When you buy a mobile phone today, is the quality of the phone calls and ability to text at the top of your feature list? Or is it more than likely you want a phone with better social media connectivity, a powerful camera, stunning screen or flexible storage options?
It’s your hard earned cash on the line and you’re fully vindicated to investigate the benefits of each console, but the honest truth is you can never make your own opinion until you try out the hardware yourself. Focusing on just the games library is a big mistake.
You’ve got to ask yourself some honest questions:
- Do I want a more social experience when playing with my friends and other gamers?
- Do I want to record and share gameplay footage easily to the web?
- Do I want to play a back catalogue of older titles?
- Which controller do I prefer?
- Do I want to multi-task between gaming and watching films more quickly?
- Do I want to game free from the TV?
- Are graphics the be all and end all?
- How do I use my console now? What do I with it? What do I want to do with it in the future?
As a gamer, everyday I question my allegiance, and sometimes wonder why I even have one. Should I look back on nostalgia and embrace the past? Or do I embrace the future and learn to appreciate new directions and experiences?
Perhaps, I’ve been fearful to accept change within the game industry and adopt new experiences, but can you really blame me? Ever since the Wii U, Xbox One and PS4 have launched, all I’ve seen and heard is negative debates across the Internet, rife with misinformation and preconceived notions.
Gaming needs to move on and new generations of gamers are taking up the mantle. You can tarnish younger gamers with the Call of Duty stereotype but they are influencing the industry more than me.
And what about exclusives? Sure, every console needs them but I hate the fact that so many gamers use them as their only debate as to which console to buy. Multi-format games are more important than ever, and in the end it all depends on your personal taste.
The development and acceptance of indie games are also now a priority for some. There are so many independent developers making new gameplay experiences or re-imagining retro for a modern age. It’s pleasing to see all the console manufacturers supporting this new area of video games development. Some of my most fondest gaming memories of the last generation have come from indie developers, Journey and Super Meat Boy are but two examples.
The right developers will always produce great games, even though the consoles main focus might have shifted somewhat. I’m still excited for the future of video games, now more than ever, and I’ve realised it might take some time for us all to get used to the future.
To you the gamers, keep an open mind, don’t be clouded by what other people think, read opinions and watch videos but remember that the person who makes the decision to buy your next console is you.
What do you want from the next generation of video games? I for one know it’s more than just about the games.