Next-Gen Gaming Plays It (Way Too) Safe
Speaking to someone who isn’t that much into gaming, I recently discussed the next generation of consoles with them and listed some of the launch window titles available for either console. I was subsequently asked why anyone would buy them when those games already exist on the current generation of consoles.
It’s weird, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just me who thinks so — and I’m totally not the poster-child for weirdness or anything — but why is it that so many big launch window games are just glorified reboots?
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The PlayStation 4 has now launched worldwide and if you were one of those lucky (read: rich and quick (or: silly)) enough to get your hands on one when it released in South Africa, you have a small assortment of games available to you including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Need for Speed: Rivals. With regards to exclusives, you have Killzone: Shadow Fall, from the Killzone series, as well as a bunch of other games that nobody cares about including Knack and Contrast, and you have the ultimately more highly anticipated game inFamous: Second Son slated for release in a short while.
There’s also some news going around of an Uncharted continuation as well, to cap off Sony’s biggest first party franchises.
Meanwhile on the Xbox One side of things, we have Microsoft releasing the console to just a handful of countries (where the rest of the world doesn’t even know when they’re getting it, ffs) with more or less the same multi-platform titles as well as, on the exclusive side of things, Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5.
We also have the rebooted Killer Instinct and Crytek’s latest tech demo RYSE: Son of Rome to contend with, with the world really only looking forward to TitanFall.
Now the thing that really gets to me is, why do we have so many reboots and franchise continuations when this is the perfect opportunity for some fresh, new IP?
Part of the answer, I think, involves simply playing it safe. First-party developers are obligated to create titles for these new consoles but they’re aware of early adoption figures so they don’t want to take too many risks and suffer backlash or underwhelming sales. So they push familiar names and franchises and hope to ride the wave of success and good reputation generated by these franchises. That’s mostly why Killzone: Shadow Fall is the go-to game for an exhibition of what the PS4 is capable of, and anyone who is just showing folks an Xbox One is likely doing it with Forza 5. Big franchises on either console that will do enough on name alone, to generate interest.
And yet, I can still just play Killzone 3 or Forza 4 and save thousands, so what is even the point?
The other consideration I had, again related to playing it safe, is that first-party developers are using familiar IP as a feeler to sort of test the waters before dropping the really exciting new IP later on. This belief, I can absolutely get behind. They drop Killzone and inFamous and Forza now and so we have something to keep us occupied for the moment, and then later on they bring out the bigger guns; The Order: 1886, The Division, TitanFall and so on, to name a few of the ones we at least know of.
That serves to further vindicate my belief that early adoption of a next-gen console is something impulsive and silly and if you have money coming out of your every orifice then you’re more than at liberty to go and spend it right now on a next-gen console, but anyone who is capable of higher thought should, by now, have considered all the technical and functional fixes, tweaks and changes that will be coming within the next few months, as well as the outright dearth of really great gaming content apart from rainbow-vomiting visuals and a sharing function that nobody but you actually cares about.
I suppose it’s too late for another Public Service Announcement asking gamers to hold off on buying a new console because by now, you’ve probably already made your choice — I’m sure there are a lot of PS4 owners who are still living life in denial of the buyer’s remorse they feel, now that it’s a few months later and they’re paying R800 for their games and don’t even have that much to choose from, only promises of future greatness with PlayStation Now and so on, and that’s if it even works in our country.
That’s not even to bring up an Xbox One console with a previously obligatory Kinect 2.0 connection requirement, that still lacks any real Kinect-powered games that fully utilise motion controls or voice recognition in an organic or functional way that makes me look upon the console with genuine interest.
Still, I’m slightly upset by how little I care about the games coming out for next-gen. Do I want a next-gen console? Of course I fucking do. I could have actually imported an Xbox One this very holiday, if not for my beloved PC requiring urgent attention. But why bother? What good is it if I’m going to buy a next-gen console, get like five games, play them for a bit and then just go back to my Xbox 360? Meanwhile, update after egregious update is releasing for the Xbox One, to fix this, that and the other issue, and by the time any really great games come out, I’ve used up 100GBs on updates and maybe twenty hours of actual play time.
It’s just not worth it, right now.
Plus it’s so unrealistic to assume that those who buy a next-gen console will have the space or the finances to have another console. A lot of you who bought PS4s likely sold your PS3s or Xbox 360s to fund that next-gen purchase. Others have disconnected and put those consoles away. Ever more likely, those of you who’ve finally gotten over that hyped honeymoon period of the PS4 have reconnected your older consoles and resumed gaming on them. It’s such a rare thing for someone to have a next-gen console and an older console, and still regularly use both. What is there to even regularly use on the next-gen console?
In that way, I must agree with Jim Sterling whom, in a recent Jimquisition episode, explained that the next-gen consoles right now are like an early access period for privileged gamers. They buy it devoid of a lot of the original promises and they play it and help to beta test it, and then Sony and Microsoft will make whatever changes, modifications, add-ons and so on to the console over time but eventually it will reach a ‘full-release’ status where there are actual games to play and the promises have all been made good on, and we have what we were told next-gen gaming would be. Sounds like such a magical time, doesn’t it?
Until then, I really am happy to stick to my Xbox 360 and if push comes to shove, just using this expensive PC of mine to power my gaming experiences. Right now, that money you have is just not worth spending on a glorified beta test. Not until they start taking some risks.