With the newest consoles having been released by November of 2013, the latest generation of gaming is now in full swing. There is a lot of talk about how each system does not have standout games, but rest assured, those games are being made. But the new generation has just started, and while the last one is still going, it“s a good time to look back and see what it accomplished.
There was a lot that happened in this generation of gaming. And in order to bring the whole thing into perspective, we have to go back to 2005â€¦
Microsoft, during a conference, had introduced HD TVs. The point of those HD TVs was that the next gaming console, the Xbox 360, was to be compatible with HD picture quality, in order to bring a whole new experience. In order to do that, you had to buy a TV that had the capability to do so.
The Xbox 360 eventually came in a slim model.
During E3 of that year, Sony“s and Nintendo“s hands were forced and they unveiled their respective new machines. While Sony showed a more traditional mock-up, Nintendo, being Nintendo, had their president pull out their mock up out of his jacket pocket. The machine, codenamed the Nintendo Revolution, had been revealed.
However, everything presented had been just promises, and dreams. No one had made any of the dreams a realityâ€¦yet.
Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in November of 2005. It was the first of the three new consoles to be released. With a year head start it was allowed to set up some industry standards: HD graphics, which was promised earlier. Eventually it would bring the advent of streaming media to and from a video game console as Youtube grew in popularity. It sold very well, and was a bit more stable compared to Sony“s Playstation 3 during the beginning of its life. While it was plagued with the infamous â€œred ring of deathâ€, Microsoft“s bad customer service regarding fixing the console, and only a 20GB hard drive when it was first released, it was a working system beyond the fear of the red ring of death.
Come 2006, Sony and Nintendo were ready to place their respective machines on the market.
Sony“s Playstation 3 was incredibly powerful. It was not just a gaming console, but also a Blu-Ray player, and it was backward compatible! (At first) Sony had catered to various markets, (some people bought it solely for blu-ray) but it was one expensive box for most consumers. Released at a whopping $600, the Playstation 3 struggled. It was hard to develop for, and the PS2 emulation was causing glitches, which caused Sony to re-develop the PS3 and take out the backward compatibility.
Remember the original "fat" model?
Nintendo on the other hand, TOOK THE WORLD BY STORM. Nintendo managed to create yet another new control scheme: Motion control! This controller allowed people to play by actually moving the controller, and was a lot more intuitive to those who were not gamers. Nintendo combined the new control scheme with an easy to play game, Wii Sports. Everything you needed to do in that game was swing the wii remote. It was easy to play and easy to get into. Combine the other two elements with a marketing scheme that showed the entire family playing video games, and the end result was exactly as advertised! Wiis were flying off the shelves, and everyone was playing Wii Sports. The Wii was the cheapest system as well, at $250. (Compared to the Xbox 360 at $300 or $400 depending on the model, and the PS3 for $500 or $600 depending on the model) I specifically remember going to a store and hearing that since Wiis were so popular, the store could only sell 1 per customer.
One last thing the Wii did to destroy the other two was to bring the past to the present, with the Virtual Console. Gaming was entering its seventh generation, and there were people who had fond memories of games and systems of old. Now you could play your old games on a new system, and not go through the hassle of buying said old system, a compatible tv, controllers, etc. That“s right, games from Sega Genesis, NES, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64, and more could all be on that sweet little Wii. Oh, and it was backwards compatible with the Gamecube too. You still needed a Gamecube controller and memory card, but the controller would work with those N64, or SNES games too.
The game changers
And so, the seventh generation of gaming had begun. But the grass was not necessarily greener on the other side.
The Red Ring of Death for Xbox 360, the glitchy compatibility and hefty price for the PS3, and the breaking of numerous TVs because of weak Wii straps, all caused the respective companies to release new models very early on in the lifespan of the consoles. Microsoft soon released anâ€œeliteâ€ model, which contained a 120GB hard drive and an HDMI cable, in 2007. The Playstation 3 did away with PS2 compatibility in favor for more hard drive space. (came in 20GB, 60GB, and a few 80GB models) The Wii didn“t change at all, and in fact just reinforced the strength of the Wii remote straps.
Then everything slowed down and stabilized a little. Streaming media such as Netflix came (Xbox 360 got it first in 2008). People got more comfortable with the technology, and the expected newer models came out. Xbox 360 had the Xbox Live Arcade, and the Playstation 3 got the Playstation store, both online stores to buy games digitally.(basically the respective systems“ versions of the Wii“s Virtual Console). Micro transactions soon became popular, and so did downloadable content.
Was this the greatest generation of gaming? That question is a matter of opinion. It was however, the most impactful generation of gaming. There are too many milestones to count. There were many early faults, and then fan anger against the changing marketplace as everything went digital. There was the copying of the Wii motion controls by Microsoft and Sony, only for those to flop. Despite all of that, this gaming generation was a fun ride.