Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t so much about the games that we’ve gotten this generation, we’ve seen some of the best and most innovative games of all time thanks to the current console generation. Games aside, this generation has bred a ton of negative trends that have actually hurt the industry and might cause the eventual decline that many have seen coming for a long time in the gaming world.
This generation kicked off with such promise way back in 2005, the games were beautiful and the online services were really hitting their stride. As the generation progressed, most of the world was hit with economic troubles, those troubles put console makers in a bit of a bind because people wont be as willing to make a big investment in a new gaming console if money is tight. Somewhere in the midst of all of this economic uncertainty it was decided that this console generation would simply last longer than previous generations. Realistically you’ll see saturation for a console four years into its life-cycle, which is why we would normally see new hardware at the five-year mark. This elongated console generation is the first thing that has contributed to this being the worst console generation ever. If Apple has taught us anything, it’s that people will still buy high-end electronics if there is an improvement in the tech. This console generation has been stagnant to say the least, we did get Kinect and Move from Microsoft and Sony respectively, but that does little to actually break up the monotony. The truth is that the core group of gamer’s have long had both a PS3 and Xbox 360, there really isn’t a lot of room for growth other than families and casual gamer’s, both of which Nintendo was aptly able to acquire this generation.
The lack of new hardware is one of the things that could really come back to bite the industry in the behind, when these consoles launched there were no smartphones or tablets, now those things have a huge market-share and people do indeed play games on that medium. Its gotten so bad that some of these devices have tech inside above and beyond our current batch of consoles. You actually have developers ditching their teams and companies in favor of developing games on phones and tablets. No matter how you might try to make excuses, this is not a good trend. People need new hardware to get excited about, developers need new hardware to push their skill and to push the limits of gaming in general.
The next thing that has really hampered this generation is down loadable content, this was originally supposed to be extra content that was free because it couldn’t fit on the disk. I remember downloading quite a bit of free content with my original Xbox and I thought it was a great idea, who knew that it would get twisted and we’d end up paying extra for everything? The worst trend in gaming is DLC that is already on the disk, if it’s already on the disk and we already paid for the disk, why do we have to pay to unlock it? Down loadable content already on the disk might be annoying, but day one DLC is just as bad, maybe even worse. Day one DLC gives me the feeling that a game isn’t complete when it launches, why wouldn’t they include that content on the game in the first place? We get Season Passes and Premium or Elite services that are really just glorified pre-paid DLC services. Its gotten to the point that in order to get a full and complete experience with a game you need to spend around $120 for it, which is just an insane amount to spend on a game.
Some developers and people are going a different route altogether with Free To Play games, this is a dangerous trend in my opinion, the reason I don’t like this kind of setup is that you literally have to pay in order to win or compete with others that do pay in the game. Micro-transactions for every little gun, camo, weapon, armor or power is really an unfair method. Free To Play is actually anything but free, especially if you want a full experience. Free To Play is something that is traditionally done to draw in a more casual gamer, a gamer that doesn’t really like to spend money on games, if they get drawn into the game, they might be persuaded to spend a little money, but games like this rarely sees people on the same level. Most of the time someone will always get an advantage because they were willing to pay to win the game. I always question why gamer’s seem to be so eager for this business model to be employed, you can just research it and see that it’s not a positive thing for the industry at all.
We all love a good game, but it seems like this generation has done more and more sequels. It’s not that I’m against sequels at all, but sometimes they are sequels to games that didn’t even do well in the first place. Had the console generation ended when it was supposed to, we would have seen a lot more new properties released. The economy is to blame a bit, but these games are becoming so expensive to produce that they need to end up selling over five million copies to turn a profit. We’ve gotten some new IP’s over the last couple of years that were pretty good, like L.A. Noire and Bulletstorm, but they made absolutely no money, which means we wont see a sequel to either of those games anytime soon. Sometimes even high-profile sequels don’t do well, Max Payne 3 has under-performed since its launch. It’s not that these games aren’t good, its that people have seen it all before, even the best looking games don’t inspire awe like in the past.
Overall its been a great generation for gaming an innovation as a whole, but I actually think a lot of these trends that were started this generation will continue to snowball until gaming as we know it doesn’t exist. I for one don’t want to be a gamer that has to stream games or digitally download games as my only option. You never really own a game that way, licenses expire and you end up paying for something you never actually own. We’ve had good games, bad games and everything in between, but this has been a lackluster generation as far as soaring costs and greed is concerned. Some franchises have been ruined because the developers tried to make their games appeal to a wider audience, when you dumb down a game, you’re not doing anyone any favors. So despite the achievements this generation, the negative outweighs the positive in my opinion, this could go down as the worst console generation ever and I wouldn’t be able to argue that in any way.