November 27, 2008

The Future of Video Games?

Andrew Weymes (aka MrWeymes) Says: Nintendo obviously went in another direction, deviating from what gamers expect from a next generation console. I'm sure most gamers assumed that every 5 or 6 years, we would get an upgrade of our current console with a slightly reworked controller, better graphics, and more features such as online capabilities, and Blu Ray. Sony, and Microsoft knew what was expected of them, and delivered. I don't think that many people thought that the Nintendo "Revolution"(as was the Wii's code name) wouldn't have a standard controller, but in fact make use of motion controls, and that it would have a small emphasis on graphics.

Technically, both the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3 are superior machines. Both support HD resolutions up to 1080p, both have a more robust online community, both are able to rip music off of CDs, both are able to play DVDs, and the Playstation 3 is able to play Blu Rays. From a core gamer’s perspective, the PS3 and 360 should be head to head, fighting for the top position, while the Nintendo Wii sits in third place. This obviously isn't the case, though. There are many places around the world where it is still very difficult to find a Nintendo Wii, and with titles like Wii Music, and Wii Fit high on casual gamers lists, this Christmas will no doubt be another huge success for Nintendo.

Of course, most core gamers could care less about Wii Music, or Wii Fit and will be stuffing their stockings with the likes of Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, and Call of Duty: World at War; but the reality is that Wii Music will probably sell more than all of these games individually. This current console war should be worrisome to core gamers. With the success of the Nintendo Wii, and the high sales of games such as Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, it is clear that there is an enormous casual market in the video game industry. This current surge of casual gamers has prompted Microsoft and Sony to advertise their casual titles much more than they used to, such as the above mention Guitar Hero, and Rock Band. It is clear that Sony is also trying to appeal to the casual crowd with the recent game Little Big Planet, but it is still unclear as to how that will work out until the holiday season is over.

The Nintendo Wii has changed the video game industry forever. It has proven that the game with the better graphics won't always sell more, and that the console with the most high quality games won't always be number one. The Nintendo Wii has the most games that have received a low score, as well as the least amount of exclusives that appeal to the core gamer, yet the Nintendo Wii is still outselling both the Xbox 360, and the Playstation 3 easily each month.

Sony and Microsoft may have done what was expected of them this generation by releasing an obviously superior console to their predecessors, but what about their next consoles? Will Sony and Microsoft be confident in releasing another console geared towards the core gamer that will be over $500 at launch? It's entirely possible that Sony, and Microsoft will try to make their consoles appeal more towards the casual crowd. Core gamers often forget that Sony and Microsoft are companies. Companies want to make money. If the video game industry has shifted towards casual gamers, then more games will be developed for the casual crowd. It's the game developers that want you to experience games like Shadow of the Colossus, for example. Game developers want you to interpret their games as art, however the Corporate Heads of companies such as Microsoft and Sony couldn't care less about how amazing a video game experience is.

If a game like Wii Fit sells more than a game like Shadow of the Colossus, then it is going to be promoted a lot more. Developers are going to be encouraged to make games to appeal to the largest crowd. Don't be surprised if the next consoles are geared more towards the casual crowd. This may be the worst possible news for the core gamer, but it also may be a harsh reality.