There's been some discussion as of late about the current reality of the video game industry. And while the bitter nostalgic inside of me resists, I'll admit that the industry is at a more exciting point in time then ever before. If I stumbled back in time to find two kids sitting down to their first playing of Metroid, I would first be humbled, but then prophesize with glee, "you ain't seen nothing yet".
While Nintendo's Ford Model T approach has been serving up economy and volume with the number of games it's been releasing, Microsoft and Sony are not only still more relevant but have the diversification to fund their juggernaut consoles until the sun burns out.
And then theres Katamari creator Keita Takahashi who took the words right out of my mouth:
GI: I was thinking about your presentation while I was walking around the show floor at GDC. It was interesting because there wasnít anything on display about making games fun. There were booths for tools to make better-looking trees, or higher-quality faces or smoother animation, but nobody was talking about how to make the games enjoyable. You would think that would be the most important consideration. Is that because itís hard to package and sell tools to make something ďfunĒ or do you think itís something else?
Takahashi: I want to ask the same question. Why arenít these vendors trying to sell ideas or tools to make the games more fun? Thinking about it, maybe itís because the gaming industry has become a little too big. Itís all about business and money. Itís more about keeping the shareholders happy. Sometimes I really wonder if these creators are in the business because they love games or if it is because of the pay.
more at http://gameinformer.com/News/Story/200904/N09.0406.1733.15632.htm
And even before I could contemplate the effects of million dollar budgets on gaming investment, David Crane, previously of Activision, beat me to the punch :
David Crane: Well, except for the indie development thatís going on as one person on the iPhone. There is the entire gamut thatís running now. It has gotten to the point where the biggest problem with the massive console games are the 100-man teams and the six-year development cycles mean that you canít do anything original, because somebody is paying $20 million to make this happen.
and here http://gameinformer.com/News/Story/200904/N09.0402.1446.25546.htm?Page=1
Now this isn't some conspiracy theory rant about corporate greed and commercial insidiousness. More money and more people making games can only be good right? But like massive banks, and massive car industries, and massive film studios...well, competition is good and the way the board is laid out right now new developers with fresh ideas have to hold their breath and hope they can hop it from Marvin Gardens past Boardwalk in one roll of the dice.
But wait, isn't that what the internet is for? And so for the time being I see gaming at a cross roads (huge generalizations are usually wrong and always come after the trend has begun) between embracing the possibilities presented by the internet and massive digital networks.
Microsoft and Sony see this, and so they've been inching closer towards PC like, all in one consoles that are part machine and part super computer. Meanwhile Nintendo who as far as I can tell is lagging behind, no pun intended, in its technical capability (who wasn't excited for online Brawl until the that sad reality was experienced for the first and last time), seems leaps and bounds ahead in its layout.
Crane loves to talk about the iphone and how it is revolutionizing casual gaming. And if any of the current players are headed in that direction, Nintendo, infamous for dragging its feet, might have the best opportunity to embrace this.
What is this? I don't know yet, but as one Mr. Water World was once told, "if you build it, they will come".
Music is changing faster than anything I can think of (I bow to no one, especially prepositions). Since I was born, and I'm only 21, there have already been three major transformations. At my youngest cassettes were the mainstay and radio was huge. Growing up Y100 and Q102, (Philadelphia, Pa) were THE radio stations defining not only what was cutting edge music but your personality, VH1 or MTV preference, and whether your had a soul or not. Then CDs started hitting their peak, civilization turned the bend in 2000 and before any of us new it, the internet and Apple single (or double) handedly changed the music industry. The internet allowed people to circumvent the middle man cutting out distributors and sometimes recording labels. Straight from my recording equipment to your PC speakers.
And that's where I want to see video games headed. There is no doubt that the music industry is still in a great state of flux, working out how to deal with illegal downloading, free radio websites, and the like, but for the time being I have no doubt Coldplay, Feist, and Beyonce will continue to sell albums. Likewise, huge titles like Bioshock, the next Zelda, etc. will get the glory they deserve. But just imagine if you will, turning on the virtual console and looking out over an endless abyss of possible gaming gems created by upstart developers and disgruntled ex-employees. Then think about sorting through that wonderful mess. Like David Crane mentions in his GI interview, there would be a ton of crap out there. There are a ton of unoriginal and even untalented music artists out there roaming the plethora of Myspaces. But with the endless resources of gaming journalism, online and in print, trudging through the Deep Deep Swamp with your piggy nose on and discovering that one gem would be easy, well worth it, and dare I say fun. Imagine the creativeness (I make my own words) of World of Goo
or Little Big Planet
on a smaller scale but a biweekly basis. The possibilities are mind numbing.
And so we're back to the fork in the road where gaming can embrace the limitless future of interconnectivity and creativity, with Blockbuster titles and numerous smaller, shorter master pieces as well, where the imagination can be set lose and the big companies can make money without completely shutting out the little guys, or the industry can stagnate while we sift through recycled first person shooters, hack'n slashes, and superficial JRPGs at fifty dollars a pop waiting each year for those three or four titles that are truly worth owning. read