James Portnow: I agree with you guys, but I think there's a little more to it this year in particular. This is the year that Sony and Microsoft have to prove that the market can support three sets of motion controls; this is the year that they have to prove that the Kinect and the Move are more than just disposable peripherals like the lightguns and congas of years past. While the out of the gate numbers don't look terrible for the Kinect and Move (having shipped about 6 million and 4 million units respectively), unless these devices hit an install base of around 20 million they simply won't be viable for non-first party development (which almost certainly means that if they don't hit the 20 million mark by the end of this year they'll go the way of the Virtual Boy). Sony and Microsoft know this and are dumping resources in that direction, but, unlike a new console generation where there's really not much to copy from, they're busy trying to recreate the successful Wii titles in order to bolster sales. This pretty much removes any money available for risky bets from two of the largest entities in the industry.
What really makes this tragic to me is that you're simply not going to beat the Wii at being the Wii. I think by taking the "safer" route Sony and MS may have condemned their peripherals to a slow death, rather than rolling the dice and really taking some gambles on what their technology could do; yes, they could miss, but they would then at least have the chance at a break out hit.
MovieBob: @Yahtzee -
Agreed re: last generation probably being a kind of creative "peak."
I mean, just imagine for a moment what the state of the CURRENT generation might be without the Wii kicking over all the anthills right at the beginning: Sony and Microsoft's LITERAL business model didn't go beyond "same thing as last time, but this time in HD." To me, this is a scary indicator - the single biggest industry reshaping since dual-analog controls happened not because an inventive new game demanded it or because someone had a "crazy" idea... it happened because Shigeru Miyamoto gets bored easily and his bosses had nothing left to lose.
Conversely, it's already evident that Nintendo's big hail-mary saving throw of going way outside the box with the Wii was basically a one-off "go big or go home" desperation move, and now that it's paid off big time and they're comfortably God Emperor of The World again, they're settling right back into their comfort zone: New Mario, New Zelda, New DK, New Metroid, New Kirby, etc. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you - first party Ninty games are so good precisely because they essentially have a 25 year development cycle (i.e. every Mario is the "beta" of the next one) but let's face it - no one is expecting Wii2 to suddenly be telekinesis-driven or whatever.
Honestly, stubborness of some entities (looking at you, Ninty) aside, I think there's an ever-increasing chance that the next console generation is going to be the last. Not in a "no more gaming" sense, but in a "different machine, different games" sense. Forget the "one console future" or "PC revival" - we're heading for a point where there's no such thing as a "gaming console" and instead "plays videogames" is just one other thing your web-connected, internet-streaming, HD-ready bluray/DVD/music player does through your TV. I'd like to think that would drive dev-costs down, but maybe not.
Mostly agreed. In fairness to Kinect and Move, though, I was never really expecting them to be anything other than market-ready prototypes of tech that's going to come standard on the inevitable PS4 and XBoxWhatever; and that's pretty much what they are. Nonetheless, it's still a little disquieting to realize that neither of them even TRIED to make a "Wii Sports Killer" (as opposed to a Wii Sports Polisher).
In the mid-1960s, the American movie industry basically collapsed under its own weight - productions were too expensive, returns were declining and the product had gotten safe and stale. Popular culture had left it behind. When that happened, what producers and theaters remained still needed product, so they wound up opening up venues and lines of investment to newcomers, outsider talent, foreign films and "taboo" genres. The net result was a major creative renaissance and a chance for a whole generation of talent who'd come up in this environment to become the new-and-improved ruling class of the new studio system - basically, almost two decades of unbridled artistic evolution climaxing with the one-two-three knockout of Jaws/Godfather/Star Wars. It's probably too much to hope that gaming could be heading for the same kind of "pop" moment, but if the whole notion of seperated consoles were to waver, or the line seperating "indie" gaming from "A-list" gaming were to get even less visible ... you never know.
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