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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 an â€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.
Some time ago, I found this great story, which tells the tale of a father playing video games with his kids, and how each generation of gamers will have their own perceptions as to what is a good game to them. Each generation of gamers will have their own classics and standards that they use, and the games that defined said standards. The dictionary defines â€œclassicâ€ as: 1. of the first or highest quality, class, or rank, 2. serving as a standard, model, or guide, 3. of or adhering to an established set of artistic or scientific standards or methods I started gaming during the SNES and Genesis days, when side scrolling beat em ups was the big thing, and those have really had an impact on me. Not only that, but 2D games and art in general. Those games are the â€œclassicsâ€ for me. Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage, Shinobi III, Final Fantasy VI, Yoshi“s Island, and many more are the games that left a strong impact on me. Because of those games, I very much love the game Viewtiful Joe, and am glad that 2D has made its come back, such as Dragon“s Crown. While games have become more complex and much more expensive to develop, I have also found that there are times where I really like the simplicity of games like Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon. I don“t need the complexities of today's standards to have fun, or to be immersed in the game. The Past... ...and the Present "The gap between my gaming knowledge and that my of sons“ is vast. My oldest son recently asked me what a Dreamcast is. My kids don“t really know why Mike Tyson“s Punch Out!! is significant in gaming history.â€ Just like how VHS tapes are no longer around, some people nowadays don“t know what a Dreamcast is. Time and technology keeps moving forward. The new generation is out now. The Playstation 2 is 2 generations ago, and is considered old. Some PS2, Xbox and Gamecube titles are considered â€œclassicsâ€ now, even if they weren“t franchise starters. I consider RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Lufia II to be classics, as they were my early exposures to RPGs. Final Fantasy VI showed a rag tag team with no â€œtrueâ€ main character, while Lufia II took a simple story, made it great, and combined it with a powerful, yet sad ending. When will Final Fantasy X be considered a classic, and to whom? Final Fantasy X already has an HD remake. For better or for worse (ok, mostly better), gaming is being taken seriously on various fronts: Narrative, cinematography, voice acting, elements that were only considered for certain types of games during the early life of gaming. Now almost every game has movie like cutscenes. The option to use 2D or 3D is available, thus providing more flexibility in choices. It“s astounding how much the gaming industry has grown in such a short time. Everyone is going to have his or her own opinion on what makes a game so great. It is all a matter of timing. Is Halo a classic, or Goldeneye on N64? I can“t really give you the answer to that, but both are certainly some fun games that set their own standards. So I guess the author of the piece was right. Everyone will have their own standards as to what is a classic to them, because there is just so much variety now. The newer generation of gamers also has history on their side to make an impact on them as well as the new generation of games. They (everyone does actually) have the option of playing the new games and going back to see how things started. Good games will always come back and stand out through the test of time. My first RPG, and an amazing one.
DontJudgeMyADD posted a blog entry in Musings on GamesWith the Wii-U releasing this year and the next generation of PlayStation and XBOX consoles estimated for release next year I've begun questioning the tight-rope each company must walk to get the most mileage out of their hardware while mitigating risks of it overstaying its welcome or being undercut by alternative means of gaming. I think over the last couple of years, we've all heard our friends and the game media in general pay less and less attention to the Wii. Development and strong titles dwindled and more and more users were defecting to the HD counterparts provided by Sony and Microsoft that had become more reasoanble in price and offered a strong catalogue of games for any who were Wii only gamers. The fascination with the "waggle" wore off and Nintendo lost ground with respect to the other consoles. This is no doubt simplified through my experience, but I think it's fair to say that for many of us who game on a daily basis, our Wii is collecting dust at this point. Now, again from discussions with friends, listening to podcasts, and reading articles from games media, I get the sense that gamers are and have been defecting to PC gaming in increasing amounts. For those of us who have been console/couch gamers for as long as we can remember, there's some fairly substantial initial investment in getting a PC suitable for getting the most out of newly released games, and some headaches that come along with hardware-software compatibility. But the payoff is substantial now. Experiencing multi-platform games with significantly richer visual graphics and significantly lower load times is a big draw. And with PC gaming working hard to ensure controller integration in most games, frequence sales on digital goods, and Valve debuing "Big Picture Mode" to try and bring PC gaming to your TV and couch, there's less incentive to keep that PS3 or 360 of yours dust free. The biggest variable in this is really each individual's brand loyalty. For someone who had a Wii exclusivly for a while because it was within my budget and has subsequently betrayed it for the now reasonably priced HD consoles, I can say my Nintendo loyalty was not strong enough to have me intrigued by a Wii-U. PS3 and 360 however have worked hard to provide value and communities it may be harder to divorce yourself from. 360 is usually offered as the exemplarly model for the community and your friends list, while PS3 uped the ante this year with the PS+ instant game collection which is particularly valuable to late adopters to the console who may have missed many of these titles the first time around. On the other hand, while there may be some gamer attrition factor for a long console cycle, there is also the obvious benefits that come with developer's ever increasing familiarity with the hardware and programming suites. We keep seeing new releases that extract more out of the hardware that we thought possible years ago. From beautiful set pieces and textures to enormous open world games, developers are continually can more efficiently work within an environment the have extensive prior experience with already. So we have the juxtaposition of increasing efficiency in development and lower costs with the competition between media that may offer a better cutting edge experience. With next year's presumed console launches this generation is heading to a close and we'll see next year whether how the market share fairs for each company. Sound off in the comments below with your brand loyalty, excitement for new consoles, or thoughts on this topic. Has Sony and Microsoft pushed there luck with the age of their consoles? Are you dreading new hardware and would prefer to see continued life from your current console? Is the timing about right and you'll just happily upgrade next year?