The impending death of gaming

Yes, that’s an overstatement. Gaming is not going to die. It’s going to change, and if it changes how it looks like it’s going to, then it’ll be dead to me.

Much of this concern stems from rumours (most of which have been rubbished), but where there is smoke, there is fire. Rumours come from ideas, and even if they’re not implemented now, or fully – someone, somewhere, thought they’d be a a good idea.

Online only
I don’t want my console online at all times to play. I can’t rely on my internet connection to allow that, even if I wanted to.

No second hand games
I buy about 30% of my games second hand. None of them have required any of this “online pass” nonsense, so when I pay £10 for a game, I get the game (and all of the game) for £10. I bought it for £10 because I thought it was worth £10, and if I need a £10 “unlock code” because I bought it second hand I won’t buy it. I never trade games in, or borrow games from other people, so it wouldn’t bother me for that reason, but when I buy a game – I want the game for the price I pay for it.

Microtransactions
There are two reasons I don’t play many iOS games: 1) touch screen controls are rubbish on almost anything approaching a “normal” video game, and 2) you can’t just play games any more – you have to pay to play, or have to wait (minutes, hours, days even) or grind tediously to progress. If this comes to console gaming, I’m out.

Download only games
I’m not adverse to downloading my games (legally, I mean). 42.5% of my spending on games last year was on downloadable games. Every single one of which was under 2GB, and the majority were under 500MB. My internet connection will not cope with bigger games, and although my connection will improve in the future (apparently), the size of games will also increase. Some titles are already 35GB+ – and that ain’t gonna happen, no matter how cheap they are. I had a taste of this when Sony had their “intrusion” and I got two free game downloads. That took me a fortnight to download.

Endless updates
It’s a minor thing, in the overall package, but updates are becoming ever more commonplace. Gone are the days you just put your game in and played, and it was rare a bug was found that prevented you from playing it properly. Now, not only are there updates for the games, but updates for the consoles too. Sure, they add features, but especially in the case of the 360, they add a load of stuff I neither want, nor would ever use. The dashboard is now atrocious, which leads me to…

It’s not all about the games
Remember when games consoles were primarily for playing games on? Microsoft don’t. They’ve moved the Xbox 360 into “entertainment system” territory (oh the irony – Nintendo Entertainment System, anyone?) and don’t even have games as the main focus on the dashboard any more. They’re all tucked away. Yes, I play videos on my PS3, but that’s a side effect, not the main event. With the PS4 cramming Facebook into every orifice and the new Xbox almost certainly moving further away from gaming than the 360 already has, it’s losing focus. And, as a result, my interest.

Flail
Kinect? No. Move? No. We’ve already done that with the Wii. We know what worked well, and what didn’t. We don’t need any more of it, and we certainly don’t need them shoe-horned into games.

Where have the games gone?
So many studios closing. So many sequels being churned out – and even those series I enjoy (Assassin’s Creed, for example) are becoming worn and rely upon wrong-footed changes to appear fresh. Pirates in Assassin’s Creed IV? Sigh. Indie games and small studios funded by the likes of Kickstarter seem to be where my gaming is going, but how long will that last before they’re bought up or go bust?

At the moment, only Nintendo seem to understand what a games console is, but how long for? They’ve already got streaming video and TV on the Wii U, along with a web browser. Miiverse is a great example of how to do something new with a console but still be all about the games – but if the Wii U fails where then? Or worse, what if it succeeds because it changes to be more like its competitors? What’s left for me then? The next Playstation and the next Xbox. Or PC gaming, which I’ve never really liked.

As a gamer, it’s the first time I’ve been concerned about the future of gaming.

1 Comment

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One Response to The impending death of gaming

  1. Duncan Snowden

    I totally agree. Cliffy B’s getting no end of grief around the web for suggesting that the industry is facing its worst crisis since the Big Crash of the ’80s (mostly, I suspect, from kids who weren’t there), but it feels a lot like it to me: developers and hardware manufacturers flailing around looking for the next big thing, and losing sight of the games.

    Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. The ’80s crash opened the market for home computer games in Europe and America. If the Atari 5200 had been a success, maybe the Speccy and C64 wouldn’t have been, and we’d never have seen that huge surge of creativity from all those “bedroom programmers”. You could be right about indie games and Kickstarter being the future.

    The only vaguely “next gen” thing I’m remotely excited about is the SteamBox, and I’m not confident that Valve’s going to get it right. If they do, having exactly the same platform on a console and PC – that’s only about games – will be very interesting. Then again, it’s download only…

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