Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why Next-Gen Systems aren't really needed

The talk lately is all about Next-Gen, and there's a big flame war argument between people who are taking sides in the debate: Whether or not Next-Gen Systems are actually needed. Half say definitely, half say not. Here're my thoughts.

Excluding Graphical abilities, there's only a couple of major reasons that a new console is needed. The biggest one is System Memory. More System Memory means games can render more on screen at once, thus increasing the size of game worlds and technical capabilities. This can lead to increased techniques which can be advantageous to Creativity, but as I point out below, it's not automatic.

I don't believe that Next-Gen systems with more performance and graphical capabilities will make developers "more creative" as a lot of people tend to say, because that's just not true. Creativity is being able to create a fantastic story with gameplay that isn't just labeled "innovative" but immersive and unique, and having a more powerful platform isn't going to necessarily automatically translate into the ability to achieve that.

I also don't think that it's Developers who are intentionally or unwittingly making games that are basic and plain just because they do, it's because of the Publishers that games are so similar. When a Publisher sees a game take off, they become entranced with it and want to know how they can continue having the profits pour in, and in their eyes the way to do it is to stick to what's popular and nothing else. In my eyes, this is what leads to the downfall of creativity in video games.

It's also because with the current trend in gaming, mostly due to the economy, being slowed down, Publishers are less and less willing to gamble with millions of dollars on a new type of game as well as a new IP, which is why there's so many sequels and spin-offs and such.

Gamers don't seem to be too receptive to new games, sadly, especially ones that take the gaming experience in a new way. Games like Borderlands are great; they're a fun experience to have and if people enjoy it then that's great, because that's what video games are supposed to be: fun. But, I don't think a game like Borderlands 1 or 2 should be $60, because they're just not worth that much in my opinion. Maybe it's just the writer in me that is complaining, but I always value Story above all else.

There's no reason that anybody has to sacrifice story for the sake of gameplay, as a perfect example of that is Max Payne 3. Max Payne 3 has tremendous amounts of action and gunfighting, but it also has one of the greatest stories and narratives in a video game I've ever seen. The same goes for the Grand Theft Auto series, particularly GTA 4.

We all love eye-candy, myself included, and having better-looking games really is a cool thing, but regardless of how great something looks on the outside, it can still be disgusting on the inside. You can polish up a turd 'til you're blue in the face but it's still a turd.

I'm hoping with the Next-Gen systems that Publishers will shift focus away from gimmicky gizmos like Kinect and focus on real AAA games with epic gameplay and stories that last for hours and hours, but if history is any tale of the future I predict many of the games to become even more restricted as we move forward. Games will likely be shorter as attention spans shrink and Publishers push to release more after-thought content (Not DLC because it's not worthy of being called DLC) to bleed their games dry of any and all possible profits they can.

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