The following article represents the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent that of the entire PSU staff.
This generation of gaming has been stagnant. Games with as much intrigue as Final Fantasy VII or Metal Gear Solid have been absent from the next gen systems, and the medium is losing juice. But companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony carry hefty names, and mean so much to so many people.
Efficiency in both content and cost is the name of the game in the gaming industry. On what content does a consumer want to spend money, and why is it worth his or her while? Both money and time are disappearing as the industry ages along with its average consumer. Priorities need to change. Games on cell phones are popular now, because they fill small amounts of time, and console gaming needs dedicated time. Now, the consumer needs a reason to make that time, and it can always be made if the priority is there.
Nintendo makes Nintendo games. That’s a simple enough statement. But not much variety outside of that particularly narrow spectrum really touches Nintendo. Even if the WiiU can change that, the consumer will need almost too much convincing that a different game on Nintendo would be worth the while. Batman: Arkham City, for example, is planned for a later release on the new Nintendo console, but expecting a strong profit on a late game with a new console may seem like a lot to ask from the religious Wii owners who mostly spend their times on the limited variety of Nintendo games.
Nintendo has thrived and succeeded with innovation, but it no longer has it. It is finally dabbling into the next generation, and it isn’t bringing that innovative with it. It has a lot of ground to cover, since it’s now planning on competing instead of standing alone. That decision is both good and bad, disregarding its name sake by making what customers want. Money is in that direction, however, as well as a different fan base—a step back for a step forward to integrate its name into something more than games for children.
Nintendo needs to ensure the consumer that the WiiU will be around longer than any version of the DS, more reliable and supported than the 3DS, and have a longer overall appeal than the Wii. Time is limited, and these changes may take more time than what Nintendo could possibly hope to have. Fans will be made and lost with this change, so they need to play this change efficiently; past mistakes catch up to new ones, and Sega can’t forever be the only console that has failed.
Microsoft has a firm following that loves to play online. Since online is now the focal point of gaming and entertainment, Microsoft has created many functions and connections to ensure that millions of its consoles are online at all times partaking in millions of hours of online entertainment.
Depth of content, however, keeps Microsoft from stomping out competition. The Kinect now allows gamers to be more immersed in content by using full body interaction, but the only games so far to appeal vastly with those features are Kinect Star Wars and Mass Effect 3. The detection debacle the Kinect had didn’t help either. A product needs to be able to fulfill its function in as many circumstances as possible. Not all customers are the same, physically or mentally.
Microsoft is not without its standout content. Allen Wake met an unexpected fan base with a very positive response. So, the consumer is not the issue with the Xbox 360, since they are willing to uptake such a daunting title that has been declared "The Heavy Rain of Xbox 360." But, recent reports about malicious treatment of developers has put Microsoft in a very conspicuous location which displays it as a company that may not be willing to equally compete. This industry is not the same as Windows. Competition in this industry is strong, and simply saying that the product is Microsoft doesn’t cut it anymore, and it most definitely won’t be appealing to the next generation of consoles or gamers.
A strong advertising campaign, a clever spokesperson, and products that developers now love to use. It seems like a perfect scenario. But perfection is complicated and must be earned, especially when it comes to an expensive brand like Sony and the PlayStation franchise.
Sony has attempted to stand out from its competition by using more powerful components and using the consumers to financially catch the slack by putting their brand name on it. It has worked many times, especially with the PlayStation 3 being as expensive as it had been for so long.
The general consumer views 3D as neither a commodity nor a necessity, but Sony has been striving to make it a real medium highlight in this industry. They have missed a few opportunities to make this declaration permanent, but the opportunities are still available. Uncharted 3 is expected to have the most immersive 3D experience available, but the financial availability of overall 3D use is not ready. Sony has shown signs of innovation with the new PlayStation Display due out this year, but a guaranteed success would have been set with a cheaper price tag. Sure, 120 Hz is a steal at that price, but consumers don’t know that unless they’ve delicately researched a TV. Education is needed in order to justify this price, but certain pieces of the bundle don’t have to be included, such as games, since the games will be available months in advance. The consumer shouldn’t be a guinea pig, even with profitable material.
Sony was able to luckily live through the PlayStation 3 drought period, and the PlayStation Vita looks to be a very positive foray into appeasing the customer according to needs and wants. Since $250 is essentially the price of a cell phone, and the Vita is coming with that same type of service idea, the Vita holds what could be the proper integration of gaming and modernization.
Financially, I have endured a day one PlayStation 3 purchase in the middle of personally paying for college so I could get the opportunity to play another Metal Gear Solid. The MGS series is close to my heart, and I made the time to play MGS4. Final Fantasy XIII also sparked me in a similar fashion as my childhood memories of great games emptied my wallet for the need to experience those sparks again. Now my daily time is diminishing with responsibility and life goals, but my heart still longs for those nights immersed in a story more memorable than any natural disaster and more personal than a normal friendship. This industry is powerful. The progress has diminished, and real life is infringing on what I held so true and dear, but compromise can be made so very easily. I need a reason to do it, as well as everyone else as involved or intrigued as I am with this industry and what it has established on its own. Modernization can be almost murderous to a medium, so this massive industry must stop milking its collection of company names and give the consumer what it needs in gaming: a new experience that can’t be done anywhere else.