Nov 20, 2013
As the spotlight begins to fade on the current gen consoles, for the most part it has certainly been an outstanding success and is something that gamers can look back on fondly.
For the first time in console gaming history, we experienced high definition graphics, which has been a key component to creating greater visuals and detail in comparison to the previous generations. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 continued to graphically impress as they pushed the hardware even harder to make gaming visuals better as the consoles aged.
Current gen also brought different forms and methods for us to play games as the controllers evolved. Before the Wii launched, people were somewhat baffled by the Wii Mote when it was first revealed. Nintendo’s move away from the more traditional gamepad could have been self-destructive, however it proved to be quite the opposite. Nintendo recently announced they are ceasing production of the Wii, but it can bow out and retire, proudly boasting over 100 million sales, 20 million more than the Playstation 3, and 22 million more than the Xbox 360.
The Wii capitalised on the new market, the rise of the casual gamer, and much of its success revolved around family oriented titles, such as Wii Sports (and Wii Sports Resort), and other child friendly games such as Mario Kart Wii, and New Super Mario Bros Wii. Other Wii peripherals also contribute to Nintendo’s success, such as Wii Fit.
Nintendo did not neglect the fan favourites and their biggest franchises, though, as Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bro’s Brawl and both The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword made healthy contributions.
On Microsoft’s side of things, the Xbox 360 continued to grow from the success of their debut control and sold consistently throughout this console generation. It continued to develop on key, first-party franchises, such as Halo and Forza Motorsport, as well as bolting new exclusive titles to the console, such as the Gears of War franchise and several Fable titles. We cannot, of course, ignore all the extra Kinect content available for the Xbox 360. The Kinect expanded on the concept of integrating yourself via a camera into the games themselves, building on how the EyeToy worked for the Playstation 2.
The Playstation 3 was late to the current gen party, and initially took time to stabilise in the sales race. However, as the years went by and new titles were released, it finally began to showcase its true power and potential for great looking games. Its popularity soon began to pick up as the Playstation 3 started to release visually stunning games, and in particular Metal Gear Solid 4. Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the best looking titles for any console at the time of release, and was arguably one of the more exciting Playstation exclusives at that time. This encouraged gamers to purchase the console after its true power and graphical ability were demonstrated.
Add to this the many Playstation 3 exclusives, such as God of War, inFamous, Little Big Planet, Resistance, Uncharted and The Last of Us, there were many games which helped dramatically to persuade gamers to purchase the console for the exclusives (as well as the Blu-ray player).
Several franchises, both existing and brand new, had bloomed and achieved levels of success from this console generation that they may not have anticipated at the time. Call of Duty has grown into one of the best-selling franchises, Fifa continues to sell well each year, and the Assassin’s Creed franchise helped to revitalise and innovate the stealth genre of games. Although Call of Duty is hugely popular by consumers, it seems to tap into a particular market that appears to be a strange oxymoronic-hybrid of casual/hardcore gaming. Although Call of Duty players may put in a lot of hours into the game, in an interview with OXM, Mark Rubin of Infinity Ward says that Call of Duty players “aren’t hardcore gamers, or even gamers”. Regardless of how you label it, the franchise continues to sell well, and should remain popular moving into the next generation.
Most recently on the current gen gaming scene, more records have been broken by a single game than throughout the entire course of the current generation. Grand Theft Auto V built upon the success of its predecessors, and currently holds seven world records, some of which transcend the gaming scene and hold records from the entire entertainment industry.
All of this resounding success will hopefully continue through to the next generation. However, because the current gen has been so popular and successful, the hype and expectations for next gen are much higher, and gamers will be anticipating a lot more from the developers. The big titles will have to be bigger and more impressive than we can possibly imagine. It is important for existing franchises to stamp their authority as they make the jump to next gen, just as it is important for new franchises to make a great first impression. In such a fast-paced, dynamic and changing industry, if they fail to keep up, it could damage them greatly.
Of equal importance, however, is the continued growth and prominence of the Indie development community. The small companies will have just as an important role as the larger companies throughout the next few years, as they both try to grow their respective markets and keep gamers engaged. Towards the end of this console generation, gamers looked to the Indie developers to innovate and help evolve the gaming world, and hopefully this will continue to develop as we ready ourselves for the new wave of gaming.