By Trilogy 0 Comments
I've been thinking a lot about this years E3 and how it's for better or worse going to be a "calm before the storm" event. I'm still excited for the event itself, as I am every year, but I think we all know that Microsoft and Sony are going to keep their mouths shut about their upcoming hardware. Nintendo on the other hand should being hitting full force with Wii U information as it's slated to release this fall. I'm looking forward to see some core Nintendo properties on an HD console and after this generation, I'm not about to doubt the potential of Nintendo but I can't shake the feeling that as soon as Sony and Microsoft release their next generation of consoles, people will be saying things like, "It looks good...for a WIii U game." Qualifications like that are a big pet peeve of mine so I'm not looking forward to another generation of people using that line. Then again, who knows the potential power the Wii U has under the hood. Nintendo has been pretty hush hush about it so far. Obviously, visuals aren't everything and Nintendo's supposed refocusing on the core gamer should make things interesting.
That brings us to Microsoft. While Nintendo has been slacking this past year or so with the mainstream and talking a big game on returning its focus to the core, Microsoft has been shifting a lot of it's focus over to Kinect and the goal of becoming the living room, family media box. It's netted them some nice profit but lets face it, it didn't hit anywhere near as hard with the mainstream as the Wii did. Regardless, it's been interesting to see both companies almost simultaneously refocus their target audience in completely opposite directions from each other.
There is a problem with this whole casual gaming thing. It seems as if mainstream gamers aren't willing to stick it out for a full 10 year cycle like dedicated core gamers are. I think the word "fad" might be too harsh but it does look like there was a drop off in interest in the mainstream market with the Wii. Does that mean the success of the Kinect will run out of steam in the early stages of next generation of hardware since it was implemented late this generation? Microsoft could prepare for this by changing from the 10 year cycle, back to a 5 year one to keep the attention of the causal market but would that be a mistake? Both Microsoft and Sony have been very profitable in the back half of this generation, which is a big reason why its been as long as it has since the system's launch. Is Microsoft foolishly chasing the dream of hitting the same level of success that Nintendo did with the Wii? There's obviously a lot of money to be made in that market and they've seen some promising results so far so I don't see Microsoft backing off of it anytime soon.
But what does that mean for us? Lets face it, if you're reading this, you probably aren't the biggest fan of motion controls, party games, dancing games, or middling kinect/wii sport games. The Xbox 360 was built on early adopters and core games like you and I. There has been a pretty serious shift in focus since Kinect was released. Microsoft has pretty much abandoned the first party focus and the future of it's remaining first party properties seems a bit grim. With Bungie gone, can 343 really keep Halo afloat? Does it even matter to the people who play Halo which company makes it? I enjoyed most of the previous Halo games but Halo 4 seems to be a little too stale for my taste. It almost feels like 343 is afraid to diverge away from the path that Bungie has laid out for them. Bungie was a huge loss for Microsoft but that wasn't the only loss. Peter Molyneux will be leaving Microsoft and Lionhead after the release of Fable: The Journey. No matter how you feel about the man, this is definitely huge. Not to mention, Fable: The Journey and Fable: Heroes are a far cry from the roots of the series.
And then there's Sony. This is where things get interesting for me. So far I've talked about the success and failure of Nintendo and Microsoft's motion control market but what about Sony? Yea...what about Sony?! Sony released the Move almost simultaneously with Kinect. But why don't we hear much about it? It's not like sales were a total flop. So far, the Move has shipped over 10 million units. It's not quite kinect numbers who currently boasts around 18 millions units shipped but it's doing ok, right? But where's the excitement? Where are the games? There were only two Move games released in 2012 at this time of me writing this. Microsoft has about twelve games released so far this year. So whats the deal? Well, Sony marketed the Move slightly differently than Microsoft did. Sony decided to cast a wider net with the Move by targeting both the causal and core. We saw Move support for games like Killzone 3, Socom 4, and Heavy Rain. While there is Kinect support for Mass Effect 3, it seems like most of the focus is on your typical casual fair. Did Sony's spread style marketing hurt them in the long run, or, was a high fidelity/high definition version of the existing Wii just not exciting as the hands free "Minority Report" control scheme of Kinect? Perhaps it's all semantics but, personally, I thought the Move had the most potential. The Kinect technology just isn't there yet but perhaps the next version will be more precise.
So what does this all mean for the upcoming generation of hardware? This is the reason why I wrote this whole stupid blog. Obviously, neither Sony or Microsoft is going to pull the trigger early this year at E3. I think Microsoft was smart to get out ahead this generation with the 360. It got them a foothold into people's homes and it became the system to own if you live in America. Why? People are going to get the system their friends get because it's fun to play together. You would think that Microsoft would want to get out ahead of Sony again but some analysts are saying that Microsoft might be hanging back this time. Could this be a huge mistake? Remember what happened last time Microsoft was second out of the door? They got creamed. Hard.
What I'm curious about is the opportunity Sony has. Nintendo is talking a big game about redirecting focus back to the core but I think they have to prove that they can walk the walk. Microsoft is increasing less concerned with having a console that plays games and more concerned with having a console that the whole family can watch Netflix and check Facebook/Twitter with. Now, I'm not saying that Sony should steer away from the mainstream market completely, but they could begin to woo the core gamers that haven't jumped on board the Sony train this go round. Will they take the opportunity? It's kind of a live ball if you think about it. There are so many variables and past experiences to work from that it could go either way for all three companies. It's honestly too soon to tell and I think it's going to stay that way until next year.
Anyway, this thing has gone on for too long. I just wanted to get some of this out there since it's been on my mind recently. This is my first real blog and I'm thinking about following it up after we learn more about the next generation of vidja games so let me know what you think. I'm honestly really excited about what's in store for the future of my favorite hobby and I think we're in a truly fascinating transition period right now.
I just realized I don't know how to end something like this. So uhhh... yea. Bye? (fuck, that was awkward)