Stalemate and Change

A few years ago, I remember pondering where the movie industry would be headed, and if movie theaters would still be around. The amount of quality movies was dwindling, and going to the movies cost half of your soul (which, they still do). The industry needed to change, and quickly, as it seemed to be floundering. Products like Netflix and the very recent WWE Network (that’s right, I’m throwing a shout out to wrasslin’) have since then changed how we watch TV shows and movies, and could possibly change it even more in the near future. When an industry begins to become stagnant and sit in a proverbial stalemate, it needs to adapt and evolve in order to start growing again.

The video game industry is starting to become stagnant; the only thing to keep improving within the industry is better graphics and better processing. Sony’s reveal of Morpheus yesterday is a sign of this. They are looking for an innovative new way (Virtual Boy was just too far ahead of it’s time) to play games that we love. Nintendo, for better or for worse, has been trying to push the boundaries in gaming the last 7 years or so: first with the Wii and it’s controls, then with the 3DS and it’s incorporation of 3D and use of the gyroscope in gaming, and now with the Wii U and GamePad. Generally, they have had success in trying new ways to approach gaming. Now, I will be buying a PS4 at the end of this year, and I have no doubt in my mind it is a great system, but what is new (from the last generation) that the PS4 offers other than some cool games? A “new” controller, better graphics, and processing power. Yes, it is an upgrade from the PS3, no doubt, but how much further can graphics “get better?” I believe the gaming industry is about to go through a major change, and it has already begun – the answer lies not in better graphics and more power alone, but in how a game is played.

Nintendo introduced the GamePad, which has major potential for using two different screens for gameplay (much like the DS and 3DS), but to a much further extent – also, Nintendo is really close to successfully incorporating unity between handheld systems with home consoles. Microsoft bundled the new Kinect with their first systems, forcing the install base to have it – a major focus on controlling games with your whole body. And now, Sony has introduced a virtual reality project that could possibly be a very smart move. All of the major gaming companies are searching for new and outrageous ways of playing games. It may take some time, perhaps five to ten years, but the gaming industry is changing, and I think that is a great thing, as it would avoid a complete stagnation of the industry.

Another big change in the industry lies with indie developers. There is a huge movement of indie developers across all platforms, and this is also a great thing. These developers will help to push the industry standard further, trying to make names for themselves and create healthy competition. I believe that the future of the gaming industry lies with these “little guys,” rather than the giant corporations mass producing popular games. Why? Because these small groups are always looking towards the future, and aren’t afraid to try new things – this will be a very helpful attribute when the way we play games really starts to make big changes, as opposed to small steps in the right direction.

With these big changes on the horizon, and with each passing day, I get a little more excited about these changes. What is Nintendo’s Quality of Life program they are going to implement? Will it change, or perhaps start a new trend, how we play games? I’m interested to see how Sony’s Morpheus will pan out. Will Microsoft’s Kinect reach any of it’s potential? We will have to wait and see, and honestly, the cynical side of me thinks a lot of these will be huge flops. But they are steps in the right direction, and that makes the failures worth dealing with. The industry is changing right before our eyes, and I’m excited for what it will bring.

 

~Mike

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