Unlike most Americans, after Thanksgiving dinner, instead of watching football, some of my family and I play video games. This past holiday I sat with my 94 year old great grandmother, who enjoys sitting and watching with her eyes half open as all the little kids play in the living room, and on the other side of me sat my four year daughter. I powered up my PS4 and started Disney Infinity 2.0. I had just picked it up to play with my daughter and this was our first time trying it out. As we started learning the game together my great grandmother started to recognize characters and her interest in what we were doing was slowly piqued. Out of nowhere I found myself answering the questions of both of them, as we all got more and more excited about the game. I couldn’t help but stop and appreciate what was happening in front of me – 90 years’ difference and four generations separate my daughter and her great-great grandmother. Eight console generations later and home consoles are still doing what they have always done, bringing us together to enjoy a unique and engaging experience.
The newest generation of consoles (the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U) have brought about some of the biggest changes in the industry we have seen in years. With technology changing rapidly as well as cultural gaming trends shifting we have been graced with some of the most amazing looking and deepest games to date. However, this generation faces much more competition than any other and claims have been made that this may be the last generation of consoles as we understand it. Third party systems – starting with the Ouya but now including the Steam Machines and Nvidia Shield – have taken the market by surprise and due to their ability to be easily modified are becoming popular quickly. Mobile gaming has exploded over the last couple of years and has now been cited as another major reason people may be defecting from consoles and traditional handhelds. Last generation ended with a lot of disappointing games so it’s understandable to be skeptical about this next generation. With the new consoles having turned three this holiday season it looks like we’re finally getting what we have been promised in the game department. With releases like Metal Gear Solid V, Bloodborne, The Witcher 3, Halo 5, and Super Mario Maker, and with a pretty awesome line-up for 2016 the games may be the savior of the console.
Last generation, online multiplayer reigned supreme. Every game seemed to sneak through some sort of multiplayer mode – even where likely didn’t belong. Games like Madden, the NBA 2K series, and Call Of Duty gained a huge following and companies rushed to gather as much money from this new gaming phase as they could. By the end of lasts generation’s life cycle developers were sacrificing quality to be able to capitalize on a market. This generation didn’t just bring back single player gaming experiences, but enhanced them to a level we had not previously seen. A prime example is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Painfrom Konami. This game gives you so many options to approach each task in your own way that two different people could play and have totally unique experiences. Fallout 4 from Bethesda is another shining example of just how far the single player experience has come. With literally thousands of items to pick up, enemies to fight and quests to complete, the world is so immersive one man is actually suing because he lost his wife and job to his addiction to the game. With other massive games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt boasting over 200 hours of gameplay this generation presented us with some of the largest and most beautiful single player games we have seen to date.
Although the single player is definitely back and looking good, the big AAA multiplayer titles are still printing annually and selling very well. Call of Duty: Black Ops III was one of the best sellers of 2015 and only came out towards the end of the year. Competitive game genres like MMO’s, hero shooters, and MOBAS are taking attention away from consoles and onto PC. They are also starting to take off competitively and the payout for playing these games professionally rises each year. Because of this games that are multiplayer on the console have become very stripped down and competitive. Some prominent multiplayer games didn’t even have a story mode. Games like Star Wars: Battlefront, which looked incredibly beautiful, did not have a story mode or any sort of campaign to speak of. Although it is a fantastic multiplayer experience, that’s all it is and if played alone becomes extremely dull quickly. This generation seems to be much more balanced than the last as far as single player versus multiplayer experiences go. With games like The Last Guardian and No Man’s Skystill yet to be released we still have so much more content in store from this generation.
Although competition is stiff, Sony has managed to put over 30 million units in homes since the launch of the PS4, seeing its best year in sales in 2015. By focusing on the consumer and giving players plenty games from third party studios to play while they waited for big titles, Sony has managed to keep players using consoles. The ability to quickly share gameplay, to download games onto your console, and even the ability to stream games from a massive library of old school goodies gave the PS4 the leg up this generation. The Xbox One has a lot of these same features and more. However, because of a rocky launch and not being as user friendly as its competitor it has not sold nearly as well. Each generation has its clear front runner. Last generation’s was the Wii, and it looks like it may be Sony’s turn (once again) to dominate a generation.
Each generation of gaming has its gems and its jokes. With releases like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and Afro Samurai 2 badly flopping we have hopefully seen the most disappointing games of this generation and won’t have to endure any more heartache. However I don’t think we have yet to see this generation’s Mario, Crash Bandicoot, or Halo. We still have so much to see from this generation. VR is going to be making it’s way into homes soon and that will more than likely bring some major change to gaming. We still have so much more to experience from playing video games and each new generation of consoles brings us one step closer to being able to realize whatever dreams we want to in the virtual world. Gaming has taken hold of the world at this point. This generation of consoles is going to need to bring it as hard as they possibly can to be able to out manoeuvre the competition. They will have to be smart about which games they choose as exclusives and which they decide to pass up.
Most of all they must listen to the consumers and deliver what they want. At the end of the day that will be what keeps people wanting to sit down to their favourite console.
What was your favorite generation of gaming? Which generation do you think had the best line up? Let us know what you think and for much more coverage of what is to come this generation check back with Cubed Gamers.