It has been almost 10 years since the current generation (7th gen apparently) hit store shelves and tricked one by one into households across the world and over that time span gamers have seen their games evolve from a curious time waster into one of the most prominent entertainment industries since the founding of home cinema. All of which culminated in December 2011 when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 reached the $1 billion doller mark in 16 days, 1 day faster then Avatar, which made it the fastest selling property in entertainment history. Say what you want about the game it's self, that is an impressive feat regardless.
Also, this current generation of consoles have boasted a variety of technological advancements, taken as commonplace today but may have been considered damn near futuristic 15 years ago: 3D gameplay, touch screens, online multiplayer, DLC, motion control, HD graphics, media services, online marketplaces. While some of these "technological advances" have been based on precursor systems, it has only been during this 7th generation where most of the inovation (or novelty) has been a commercial success. Also, not all of these advances have been overly "good" for the consumer: on disk DLC, DRM and digital pricing failures are just a selection of dubious practices which has caused controversy in the latter part of this generation. Going into those may have to be saved for another day.
With the 7th gen fast approaching the end of a decade it is to no ones surprise that hardware companies are starting to make moves and announcements, with considerable input from speculative journalists, as to the shape and function of the next next-gen consoles. There have been rumbling of anti-preowned systems, name changes, release dates, pricing, connectivity with peripheral devices. The list is endless, and frankly I dont really care.
The reason why I view the next-gen with contempt is because to me, the system is not important, the actual game is. A bad game is going to be bad even if it is on a brand new, sparkly, console. Point in question, the PSP. Now don't get me wrong, the PSP is a fantastic piece of kit and over its life span I would go as far as to say that it was a much more superior console then the PS2, DS or even the Wii in regards to the technology. But, it only had a handful of titles which did not appear to be spin off's / adaptations of already released PS2 / PS3 games which appeared to make the console pointless. Why would someone want to play a watered down version of Resistance durring the commute home from work only to play the "proper" version when they get in?
The other complication that may face the 8th gen is due to the current movement by developers to homogenise the genres in order to give them "broader appeal", the recent E3 trailers of both Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 are a testament to this claim. While some may argue that it is premature to condem a game I have yet to play, the fact remains that while clones of Call of Duty do sell rather well, European game sales seem to have stagnated
since 2008. One reason for this is that there are a load of gamers who will only make 2-3 purchases a year which are normally Fifa, CoD and a CoD clone, while forgoing most games that deviate from the soldier-shooting-soldier formula. Therein lies the risk of developers who attempt to give their games a broader appeal risk not catching the attention of their prospective new punters while alienating older fans of the series.
The other risk that the 8th gen has to worry about is competition from indie and small studio developers stealing the limelight on other devices. As of November 2011 angry birds had been downloaded over 500 million times and 19% of Minecraft's 35,257,814 registered users have purchased the game. While these games are spread over different systems, the advent of the OUYA and its promise to consolidate independent development onto a royalty free, open source, android console may mean a diversion of customers and third party developers away from draconian consoles in favour of something that allows a little more creative freedom and appreciates difference in personal taste. Because not all of us enjoy variations of shooting games.
While some may be first in line to champion the OUYA as being the harbinger of a "gaming golden age", those who are slightly more cynical may shudder at the rhetoric of "anyone can make a game and play it on the OUYA" as the saturation of poor performing games in the early 80's has been proposed to be one of the primary causes of the great video game crash, something that nearly destroyed the fledgling gaming industry. While the industry has moved on in 20 years, one may argue that online distribution and open source development is still in its infancy and could very well suffer immensely if there was a critical error in judgement at some point along the line.
In short, all I am asking is that developers make good games. Indie or AAA, It does not matter. Forget what the marketing analysis's say, studios should be looking to release several good games a year rather then relying on the impact of one great game. read