March 4, 2013
How To Save Next-Gen Gaming (Part 1)
This year marks the dawn of a new generation in the video game industry. This upcoming holiday season, the latest iterations of both the Xbox and PlayStation entertainment consoles will be hitting store shelves and Internet retailers with a monsoon of consumers eating each other alive shortly thereafter. It’s been a long time coming, but it had to happen. Out with the old and in with the new, as they always say. It’s no secret that both of these consoles have sold pretty well and have gained quite an audience over the years.
Over the past eight years, these two competitors have been experimenting with everything from new gaming titles to motion controls. Some of these efforts have hit the mark and some… um… not so much. All of this time spent going through their trials and errors over the years has left the gaming crowd in a strange limbo. This limbo comes in the form of other gaming avenues that have taken in quite a chunk of the audience in recent years, such as mobile phones, tablets and even the resurgence of PC gaming.
But why has this happened and what can the next generation of console gaming do to bring people back in?
The answer to the first question is that Xbox and PlayStation games have become too predictable.
The answer to the second is that the consoles are in need of a new niche.
Allow me to elaborate on the first answer.
Nine times out of ten, if you are purchasing a new game for your glowing gaming box, the game will most likely be some first person shooter with a lightning fast campaign and then it is off to the online multiplayer. Here’s where things get eerily identical. Everyone knows the drill here, Team Deathmatch, where you are put on a team and forced to fight another team of players. Shoot this, frag that, run around there for a little bit, bam; it’s the end of the match.
I don’t care if it is Call of Duty or Halo; it’s all the same game with a different background and name (Ultra Deathmatch, Mega Deathmatch, Combo Deathmat- uh… you get the point). It’s all the same and only proves the point that every plateau has been reached for competitive multiplayer. Every idea has been put into the fundamentals of these modes and there’s nothing else that can be done for the genre.
That’s all well and good for all of those die hard, ultra-competitive fans out there, but what these companies have overlooked is that this is not the entire core audience and no, this isn’t the casual players either.
The problem was that people didn’t want a competitive experience all the time where they are forced to fend off the wolves on the other team (and sometimes on the same team). It was fun while it lasted but no one wants to be picked apart by some 12-year-old or some guy who plays for 15 hours a day non-stop. Some gamers just wanted play and have an entertaining experience with their friends for a while and go on about their day.
After releasing titles like this for years and years people have grown tired of it and have migrated to the aforementioned other gaming avenues for a brand new experience.
This hyper competitive nature has also scared away the casual gamers as well; an audience that these consoles are dying to tap into. Everyone hates to be the person that is new to something in the group. For instance, if one person in the group doesn’t usually play basketball you would assume that they would be pretty reluctant to play a pick-up game with a group of those who play at the park every afternoon.
The same goes for gaming. No one wants to be that new guy in the group that gets thrown to the wolves who have a daily quota of 15 hours a day. With this mindset, casual people who play video games feel that they will never be good enough to game with the pros who know every inch of the digital battle ground. On the other hand who wants to practice, train and study? This is a video game and is meant to make you let loose and get lost into a wonderful experience
That is the reason the consoles have missed the mark with casual players. Everyone loves to get lost in a fantasy or story, that is why we have things such as books and movies; but if the video game industry wants to pull people in then they need a defining experience.
I’ll reveal this defining experience in part two, so stay tuned folks.
Image Credit: PeterPhoto123 / Shutterstock