iceman06 (User)

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"You can not argue with stupid but you can certainly play with it."-Donna Lynn Hope"

Was There A Video Game Renaissance?

iceman06 | 293d ago
User blog

I am constantly thinking about the history of the video game industry. It seems like many articles on N4G are written by "journalists" that either ignore history completely for the sake of hits or simply aren't old enough to remember it. However, I was there for its humble beginnings. I can recall fondly when I told my mother that I wanted an Atari 2600. Being a single mother, and a teacher with two kids, she had extremely limited funds (read: poor...but never KNEW it!) So, my mother went to the pawn shop and picked up something that was akin to a large telephone. Except, this “phone” had cords that you could plug into the back of the television. One flip of the switch and there it was, in all of its less than standard definition black and white glory...two bars and a blip. At this point, younger gamers are probably laughing at the thought of getting excited over these two bars and a blip. However, this was the FIRST time that I could play a video game on my television. It was a generic knock off of Pong! I was HOOKED!!!
(Thanks MOM!!!)

Now that we have transcended into the 8th generation of consoles, I am questioning WHEN or IF there was a gaming renaissance? Now, I am not speaking specifically of the actual Renaissance that took place between the 14th and 17th century in Europe; a time where revolution and innovation was springing up in science, literature, politics, music, intellectual inquiry, and art. I am more speaking of an “age of enlightenment” in the video game industry.

The actual Renaissance took place after the Dark Ages. We all know that the Dark Ages or Middle Ages were the years when there was a general stagnation or even deterioration of cultural and economic expansion. There was a lack of literature, written contemporary history was on the decline, and there was very little artistic expression to be found. (Bear with me Historians and Theologians...I'm setting up a premise and NOT debating the misuses of the term "Dark Ages"!)

So, if a Dark Age precedes a Renaissance, then where does the video game industry fit in this?

I'm not sure if there was a true Dark Ages for video games. When looking at the industry, one might first latch onto the crash of 1983 as this point. However that crash, though huge and defining, only lasted for two years. Aside from those two years, there was a pretty huge boom in the 80's. This is considered the "Golden Age" for arcades. If you were alive then, you can attest to this fact. Arcades just sprung up overnight. The number of arcades doubled between 1980 and 1982 and this portion of the industry was pulling in over $5 billion a year! This does NOT include home consoles! Atari, Intellivision, and Colecovision were killing it in the beginning of the decade. What's usually NOT noted is that Microsoft released MS-DOS in 1981 and aggressively marketed to combat the home consoles. Which means that the 80’s were the humble beginnings of PC gaming as well. We ALL know at this point that there was a complete and total over-saturation of the market and consoles pretty much went dormant. However, during this time, it was PC gaming that "hobbyists" turned to. (Yeah, I said it...we hadn't really coined the phrase "GAMER" yet.) After the great third party over-saturation that lead to the crash, it was Nintendo and Sega who took the challenge of reviving and revitalizing the industry with the NES and the Sega Master System and then towards the end of the decade with the SNES and the Genesis. For a short period of time, the industry DID go dark. However, before and after the crash, there were some of the biggest moments of growth the industry has ever seen.

Now on to the 90's...which, arguably, could be that Renaissance that we were looking for. This was a decade where many of the "innovations" that we see today had their origins. Games went into an entire new space, literally, as we went from two dimensional gaming to 3D. Handheld gaming, though it started in the 80's, became more popular as the decade went on. This charge was led by the Nintendo Gameboy and followed by the Sega Game Gear. Many of the genres that we pine for today had their birth or their revolution during this period of time. First person shooters, platformers, real-time strategy, survival-horror, racing, fighting, stealth, and even the MMO were genres that sprung up or were vastly improved during this time.
Technologically, we jumped from sprites to polygons. That's HUGE for those of us that like to ogle or even argue about the newest and shiniest graphics. This is where they started. We went from the limited confines of the cartridge (Nintendo...I'm looking at YOU!!! LOL) to the less limited disc format. This not only allowed for a broader range of gaming experiences. But, it also drove the price of games down significantly. I can recall that my best friend paid $75 for a brand new copy of....Sim Ant on the SNES! We got memory cards (thanks Playstation) which pretty much became standard until HDD's showed their faces on consoles. Game controllers also evolved to include more buttons, analog (N64) and dual analog (PS 1) sticks, pressure sensitive buttons (Dreamcast), and force feedback (N64...then PS 1). We got interactive movies, which some see as the precursor to the cut scenes that we have today. Finally, we got online gaming on consoles at the very end of the decade with the Dreamcast. (Most underrated system of all time???)

If we take a look at the franchises that were a staple of the 90's we see a large amount of franchises, or at least primary examples of franchises, that are still very popular today. Here are a couple of examples.

DOOM (PC; 1993) Tomb Raider(PC)
Super Smash Bros. (N64; 1999) Command & Conquer (PC;1995)
Starcraft (PC; 1998) Warcraft (PC; 1994)
Diablo (PC; 1996) Resident Evil (PS1; 1996)
Donkey Kong Country (SNES; 1994)Rayman (SGA; 1995)
The Elder Scrolls (PC; 1994) EverQuest (PC; 1999) Sonic, The Hedgehog (SGA; 1991)
Fallout (PC; 1997) Harvest Moon (SNES; 1996)
Gran Turismo (PS1; 1997) Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (PC; 1998)
Grand Theft Auto (PC; 1997) Unreal (PC; 1998)
Mario Kart (SNES; 1992) Soulcalibur (ARC; 1998)
Mario Party (N64; 1998) Mortal Kombat (ARC; 1992)
Medal of Honor (PS1; 1999) Silent Hill (PS1; 1999)
Need for Speed (3DO; 1994) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PS1; 1999)
Pokémon (GB; 1996) Star Fox (SNES; 1993)
Warcraft (PC; 1994) Ace Combat (ARC; 1992)

The 2000's saw a few new innovations and a LARGE amount of refinements of older ideas. I consider this a period of evolution more so than revolution. Which, in and of itself, is NOT bad. First and foremost, we saw a refinement of techniques that took polygonal images closer to the realm of believability. Gone were the days of often rigid polygonal characters. In came characters with more fluid animation than we had previously seen. Along with the change in characters, came a change in their environments. Immersion was a prime directive for developers. Advances in AI and physics allowed for greater immersion and interactivity within these digitally created worlds. Our consoles became more than just places to play games. With connections to the internet, ability to play visual and audio media, and later with various apps, consoles (really console makers) yearned to turn consoles into entertainment hubs. The rhythm game fad came...and went. But, most of us can admit to at least enjoying dancing like idiots while playing Dance Dance Revolution, or releasing our inner rock god while playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Let's not forget our inner DJ's with DJ Hero. We saw controversy, which means that gaming was becoming culturally more relevant, in the "HOT COFFEE" mod and gaming’s link (no matter how superficial) to the Columbine shootings. In fact, at this point, we saw how far video games had reached the mainstream as movies (no matter how BAD) started to pop up again. The crowning achievement, in terms of global sales, was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider which grossed $274 million. Technology became more about the natural evolution of things. We went from CD-ROM to DVD and then to Blu-ray, simply because developers wanted more space to create larger games. Hard drives became standard, because gamers needed more space to save more things that couldn't be saved on just a couple or several (depending on who you are) memory cards. HDD's allowed developers to "fix" issues that might have shipped with the game for console. (For better and for worse) Also, it opened the door for digital games on console. Consoles became more complex (relative to other consoles PC master-race!!!LOL) because more was expected out of them. High definition became a "thing" as the consoles and PC's pushed gamers away from standard definition and into HD TV's and monitors. Let's not forget wireless controllers! (No more Spot running by and killing your console...well unless he pees on it!) It brought motion control gaming with the surprise success of the Wii (no disrespect, but YOU didn't see that coming Nintendo fans! LOL) and with Kinect and Move trying to create competition in that space. Finally, it brought social networking to the consoles. With Xbox Live and PSN, you no longer had to wait for your friends to come over to play co-op or competitive games. You had "friends" that you would play with in a touch of a button. As the 2000's have continued, we've seen further refinements of most of these aspects. But, have yet to really see a real revolution. Will there be one?

So I've painted (color by number and with a limited background in art ...okay 10th grade doesn't count) a picture of the ever evolving history of video games. I've listed what I think were the revolutionary ideas and what I believe were the evolutionary ideas. But, I am still at a crossroads with my initial question. Has there been a video game renaissance? As I pointed out, the mid-to-late 90's and into the early 2000's seems like the sweet spot for gaming where past ideas were converging with the technology that allowed them to come to fruition. With that in mind, I am unsure of what the future holds. With the current instability of the industry and the relatively (in comparison to the past) stagnant evolution of new ideas, there is a possibility of the industry retracting. Studios could continue to close, consolidate, and restructure. Major players could become...well...less major...or not even players. (We've all seen the articles that claim to know which one and why! Give you a's all three!!! LOL) In direct contrast to that, the industry could be in for a boom. Consoles are flying off the shelves. Independent developers are pumping new life-blood, in terms of creativity, into the industry. Kickstarters are taking development, and costs, into their own hands to circumvent large publishers and their often Draconian contracts. All of this on behalf of gamers that choose to support their game. New innovations on the horizon like cloud technology and its various applications, increased efficiency of development and programming to the metal on consoles and PC could indicate that there is still a LOT of room to grow.

Though I started this blog with a quest for answers, I am happy to have gone back through the history of this great industry because it is such an important part of my own history. I grew up gaming. My mom got me my very first home video game. I stole my second one from my deadbeat dad (an Intellevision...funny because he was about the age that I am NOW when I took it! Sucks to be him!!!) I watched as stick figures on cathode ray tubes became fully animated and more human creations on HD televisions. I've seen terms like 'FANBOY' go from meaning any hobbyist that was interested in video games and the industry to anybody that doesn't agree with me! (LOL) I've seen terms like 'hobbyist' turn into 'Gamer' and that badge being worn with honor instead of skulking in the corners of society waiting for acceptance. (a little dramatic...but still true!!!) Mostly, I've been able to be a part of something that has rapidly become one of the greatest forms of entertainment today. If we look at the trajectory of cinema, literature, and music, then it's easy to see that this industry is still in its infancy. I probably won't be around when it reaches puberty, let alone full blown maturity. But, I am SO glad that I was able to witness even this tiny portion of its life.

Now…back to arguing about framerate, downgrades, lazy developers, and console strength! ;)

Seriously, I hope that this reminds us that this industry is preciously new and frail. With that, it’s never going to be perfect for everyone. It probably won’t be perfect for ANYONE. BUT, it is ours to respect, nurture, and grow. As consumers, we control where it goes and more importantly where it doesn’t. Peace and gaming!!!

Fun with Video Game Renaissance

More fun with Video Game Renaissance

Concertoine  +   292d ago
Its hard to pinpoint a renaissance in gaming because whereas art and literature has much less divisive opinions and preferences among its connoisseurs (like no one really looks back on the Renaissance and says, "man that art sucks"). With video games, some like cinematic games, games with deep gameplay, rpgs, etc.
Some might say this gen started a trend where hamfisted cinematics took priority over deep gameplay and progression, whereas some might say that this is the natural evolution of games.
iceman06  +   291d ago
"Its hard to pinpoint a renaissance in gaming..."
That's pretty much where the question came from. I would argue that the actual Renaissance was less about criticism and more about a complete explosion of brand new ideas, that had been suppressed by the political and social climate of the Dark Ages. But to be fair, even our classical heroes had their critics, both in the past and today. It's hard to believe, but even criticism itself had a revival in the Renaissance as classic text were discovered, music was examined for more than just sound, even art was dissected. It was the birth, or at least the proliferation, of criticism theory.
That being said, I understand what you are saying about the "divisive" nature of the industry. But, the very fact that we have that much diversity within the industry, says something about its growth and evolution.
randomass171  +   292d ago
I always figured hat renaissance was in the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis era. A lot of iconic franchises came out around that time and a few more came out in the generation after. A lot of what gamers are looking for are from those eras.
SnazzyGent  +   292d ago
I feel like every generation has its own "renaissance" depending on who you ask and how old they are.

For me, as an older gamer, my perspective would be that the "true" gaming renaissance began with the NES, after the "dark ages" of the great video game crash. However, someone even older may say that the gaming renaissance began in the arcade, with titles like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Those younger than I may say that it began with the 32-bit revolution of PlayStation and the creativity it bolstered in the industry.

I believe it's a very generational opinion clouded by a screen of nostalgia that's hard to see through.
Kavorklestein  +   292d ago
32 bit revolution?
Just to be stomped graphically by a 64 bit system like the n64 less than a year later?
Funny, the most revolutionary thing I can think of that the PS1 did was using discs. But that change to discs also brought the dawn of having dirty lenses, or bad disk drives, and even Scratched game disks them selves... so even THAT is not all it's cracked up to be... I have a cousin who bought like 3 playstation 1s just because of the disk drives going bad. And I NEVER even bought one BECAUSE of the disk drive fear..
It's not all about graphics tho.

I also find the game community now being hypocritical compared to how most of us grew up, or when we think about what we've owned in the past.

Now a days, we have people who are bashing the crap out of the xbox 1, and the wii u for being less powerful than the PS4.

Did any of these folks feel the need to worry/justify their purchase to the ends of the earth back when the PS1, PS2, and the PS3 were having games look worse for them than the competition?? Nope. But yet those same people are demanding others to somehow "feel bad" or trying to make fun of or bash the xb1, and Wii U and the people who purchase them. Even tho having the best machine never mattered to them before... for 20 years it never mattered, yet SUDDENLY it does?
The only reason Sony fans are clinging so hard to the graphical dominance factor in THIS new generation of consoles is BECAUSE they FINALLY, I repeat, FINALLY have the more powerful system.
That's not to say Sony sucks or that they haven't had a large amount of success and high sales.. because they have always been a great brand, and HAVE always had great games.. But the fact that their fanbase is so rude, biased and arrogant is likely because they FINALLY have the best system, and it's like the angst of 3 generations of inferiority are finally being unleashed with the fervor of a psychopath..


I didn't mean to go off on a tangent, but it's something to think about, and it's what I think is the real reason the gamer community has such a giant problem with trying to be the best, and hating anything besides "THE BEST"

But anyway, to re-iterate, I think this jump to 32 bit is less significant than the jump to more standard use of polygons and 32/64 bit graphics certainly helped,
But it's more of the actual use/reliance on/of 3d elements that set the gap/leap between consoles such as SNES/Sega Genesis and the PS1/N64.

In my opinion, the 3d jump was the biggest jump, and the rest have just been more or less refinement on 3d artistry.
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AceBlazer13  +   292d ago
Of course some idiot brings fanboyism into the mix after such a nice piece of writing.To bad you never got a PlayStation out of your cousin's remote misfortune and your unfounded dislike towards PlayStation. One of the best consoles in history.Generation of great games you missed.

I would point out how much nonsense you just spewed but like I said I would like to keep any fanboyism or hate towards other consoles out of it.
Kavorklestein  +   291d ago
I actually played many playstation games and didn't miss out on a thing. I also have a PS1 emulator on my phone, and play crash bandicoot, FF7, Tomba, Dino Crisis, and Ehrgiez, all the time.
I beat Shadow of The Colossus, and FFX, and Kingdom Hearts on my Ps2 once a year (sometimes more)
I just don't see a point in owning a PS3 is all.
If you go look at my comment here on the news here on n4g, thread about the last of us remastered, I reccomend a fellow gamer to get a PS4.

I do not hate Playstation.
I Don't like the Playstation 3. That is all.
Your trying to read into my mind is greatly flawed. I also made very valid points about how hypocritical playstation gamers as a "fan-base" have become, when they USED to be about enjoying games. Now they just enjoy bashing other's consoles, and it's ONLY because they FINALLY have the most powerful one.
I support Sony, Nintendo, and MS, just not the extremist fans of any camp.
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UnwanteDreamz  +   290d ago
If you think past generations weren't hung up on graphics then you didn't live through them. I can fondly remember arguing for hours about who had better graphics Genesis or Super Nintendo. Graphics arguments have been going on from the beginning. You kids from the "everybody's a winner" generation need to grow up. You contradicted yourself and your entire paragraph about graphics and hipocrisy in your second sentence BTW.
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kalkano  +   292d ago
"I'm not sure if there was a true Dark Ages for video games."

I'd argue that we're RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the Dark Ages, right NOW, and have been for about 8 years or so. The industry has never been more of a joke, than it is today. I don't even know why I bother coming to gaming news sites, anymore, since the chances of a new game being of REMOTE interest to me are about 0.0000001%.

I should just play the lottery, instead. I have a higher chance of winning.
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randomass171  +   292d ago
Sounds like you're falling out of love with the medium in general. :( What games were you into before the past generation?
kalkano  +   292d ago
I love video games, and still play them constantly. But the vast majority of what I play is 10+ years old. Turn-based, and turn-based strategy RPGs are what I love most. And obviously, they barely exist, today.
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UnwanteDreamz  +   290d ago
When you have such narrow tastes you will most likely be left behind. I miss turn based strat RPGs too but that's just one of the genres I play.
randomass171  +   292d ago
Well, there are some indie games like that. And Bravely Default came out not long ago. None of those float your boat?
kalkano  +   292d ago
I've yet to see an indie game in those genres that didn't look like complete shovelware. I settled for Bravely Default. I say "settled" because it's a handheld game. But, it's closer to what I'm looking for than I've seen in years.
Flatbattery  +   292d ago
Difficult question to answer, each generation has made it's mark in the history of gaming.

With that said, reading your blog has been a pleasant trip down memory lane. I too started out on a Pong rip-off, then on to the Atari 2600. They haven't aged too well, but they were fantastic systems.
iceman06  +   292d ago
Thanks. THIS is pretty much the result of my attempt to explore this question. It was a pleasant trip and one that quickly reminded me that I am lucky to be playing games at the level that they are now. Not to say that we can't be critical. But, we as gamers, seem to be getting hypercritical of just about every aspect of gaming.
Oh, and I loved my Pong rip-off and played Atari 2600 at my best friend's house, until I procured my Intellevision.
thorstein  +   292d ago
I would honestly place the Renaissance in the 16 Bit era. Games their narratives and their themes became more mature., graphics took off and innovation exploded.

This is the era of the very first polygons used for gaming. We also have games like Shadowrun SNES and Genesis showing that one company can make two awesome games for two competing consoles and not renege on the quality.
blaauboerrene  +   291d ago
The Trash Flow app for your iPod touch, iPad, and iPhone is a really fun casual game that you may intend to play for just a couple of minutes but you will soon find yourself passing hours on it.
BillytheBarbarian  +   291d ago
I feel like Sega Genesis was when it became more adult and mainstream. Titles like Madden became mainstays and grown ups didn't feel "nerdy" anymore because of deep engaging games. SNES soon came along after. From Mortal Kombat, Streets of Rage, Shining Force, Flashback, Holyfield boxing, World series baseball, Contra 3, Fzero, and countless others, these became realistic experiences on some level that wasn't possible on Atari, NES, or prior consoles. Turbo Grafx 16 and NeoGeo pushed to go after older audiences as well.

Music especially became more than bleeps and blops. Hearing Actraizor's orchestrated music was huge. Streets of rage, Moonwalker, Final Fantasy 3, and then real tunes on Turbo cd and Sega cd. Loved that time frame. 1989-1994.
iceman06  +   291d ago
If I had to pinpoint it, I would definitely say that the time frame between the early 90's and into the early 2000's was probably one the most influential and pivotal times in the industry. Just the sheer volume of new things that happened in that time is amazing. But, as I said, with the industry being so young who's to know what we have ahead of us? Just incorporating the idea that the actual Renaissance lasting about 300 years.
randomass171  +   288d ago
What would you say was the mos influential game you played in that time frame?
iceman06  +   288d ago
@randomass171...Probably DOOM. It kind of set the tone for the future of FPS as a genre. It pretty much introduced the term deathmatch. Though, I'm not a huge FPS person, I can't deny that it was seminal experience. I so much wanted to name my FAVORITES, but, you asked for the most I think I HAD to say DOOM.
Derekvinyard13  +   291d ago
Very good read enjoyed it.
iceman06  +   290d ago
Thanks. It was a little bit of work, but well worth it.
Jurat  +   290d ago
I’m not sure whether it could be called a renaissance, but the late 80s in the UK springs to mind as a particular time of enlightenment. It was the era of the ‘bedroom coder’ and that wonderful crossover between old and new tech.

Because platforms like the ZX Spectrum and C64 were so open, enthusiasts could share their creations in in so many ways; passing homebrew mixtapes to each other; hand typing BASIC programs from print media; there were even some coders who would broadcast their software audio streams over ham radio for others to record, like some kind of prehistoric internet.

Many of those coders went onto enjoy successful careers in professional game development.

I would also argue that we are perhaps in the middle of renaissance now. Since the Indie explosion following the success of Minecraft, some of the best games of the last five years have come from small development teams constantly pushing the envelope.
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iceman06  +   290d ago
I agree. The late 80's was a crazy productive time, especially on the computer front. I actually owned the Commodore 128-D at the time, so I can definitely attest to that. That's what made the question, and trying to come up with an answer, so difficult. Being around for almost the entire time, it's hard to pinpoint one specific time frame...not that we have to. Since, as you said and I alluded to, the best and biggest advancements could still be yet to come. Thanks reading and for your input.
Wni0  +   290d ago
no half-life?
Picnic  +   288d ago
To narrow down to most basic ages one version could be:

Before late 1980s. After a battle between various odd outfits, Nintendo are arguably too powerful in home console dominance with something like a 90% share. British, American and perhaps the occasional German companies are strong on home computers with some quirky homegrown games. As such it was easily possible for many games players to never have played a Japanese made game at home unless they were a Nintendo or arcade game fan. Rare make an early decision to develop for Nintendo but it would take until the N64 for them to really fully tap in to the British sense of humour. Platform/puzzle and racing games are a staple.

Late 80s- 1993. Nintendo v Sega with Commodore Amiga often the home gaming computer choice. But PCs also making some early innovations that would change later history. Such as the point and click adventure or survival horror genre - Alone in the dark.

1993-1995. The Sega add on years. The early attempts at 3D years. Nintendo move ahead. Sega start becoming regarded as a niche company who spend on things that not enough people buy. With FMV games they are similar to the PC. They were undoubtedly innovators but they were too much too soon for many people. With increased detail in games, this time was a high point for media hate towards videogames even if the media didn't care for subtext. Sega release Virtua Racing but the SNES ends the generation on the high with Donkey Kong Country's slick graphics.
Picnic  +   288d ago
1996 to 2001. The 3D blossoming including of mature games. This might be regarded as a golden age for many in terms of epic scaled 3D games. 3D platform games e.g. Mario 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Quake, Silent Hill, Max Payne. The rise of Sony step in to Sega's shoes at every step. Sony follow both the Saturn and the Dreamcast with the PS1 and PS2 respectively. But the PS1's popularity over the Saturn is the real difference that not matter how great the Dreamcast was it wouldn't necessarily make all that much difference to sales any more. Nintendo get through an entire generation almost entirely thanks to their own and Rare's games (as you wouldn't necessarily choose to play just any old multiformat on a console with such poor textures in general).

2001-2005 Microsoft move in to the space vacated by Sega. The continued rise of Sony but with Microsoft there in the young upstart role (plus Xbox's undoubted power advantage turning out to be a big psychological factor in getting so many Live members). Gamecube as undoubted underdog option but exclusives (and certainly handheld sales) can continue to keep Nintendo just about popular enough to keep them in business. Platform games, with the exception of Mario and occasionally Sonic who continues to be mined by Sega as software only company, don't sell as well as might be liked. A lot of subtle changes in this period but basically more and more Western developers are becoming important at the same time as some Japanese developers release some of the quirkiest stuff they will ever release to date. They will struggle more in the HD age.

2005-2009 The start of the HD age. The popularity of the HD Xbox360 and the not HD Wii. Strange days for Sony - their mysterious cell-engine PS3 and artsy advertising is deemed passe, even hopelessly decadent or extravagant in a post credit crunch world. It was unfair in retrospect because the PS3 was- and still is - a powerful machine waitiing to be moulded by the right hands and with games by David Cage and stuff like The Unfinished Swan it has lived up to its artsy potential as well. But at the time it hadn't proven any of that. It had Folklore which looked PS2 standard, it had Super Rub a Dub and it had trailer renders of games such as Motorstorm that didn't end up looking quite as good. Sony had a touch of 'it'll be all right in the end' to them. They even said that it would sell without any games. It did all turn out well and I'm glad they used the cell for that time but it was a bumpy first couple of years and exotic architecture is not a clever trick that they could afford to risk the patience of anyone with for a third generation running.
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Picnic  +   288d ago
2009- present. The rise of Sony as a whole in popularity again. The 'meh' of Microsoft and Nintendo outside of a few exclusives. The first Uncharted was great but by the time Uncharted 2 was launched and more developers were getting to grips with the cell, it was the start of a slow and sometimes quiet wave of popularity for Sony that thankfully reached full voice during the PS4s launch. No exotic architecture waiting to reach late bloom this time (which may seem a little saddening) but it means that, with power that wasn't likely to be trumped only a year later, the PS4 can continue that wave of late PS3 popularity more unhindered this time.

Now Sony's agenda is many people's agenda. Blockbuster AAA games and indies (or niche) games complementing each other as a line up. Even The Last of Us is more indie film than blockbuster film.

For Sony, their renaissance , when they can finally say that they were not just doing what the competition could sometimes do as well, was 2009 to present.
For Nintendo it was 1995-2005 and related to Rare and Capcom as much as their own games as far as I'm concerned- the time between Donkey Kong Country and Resident Evil 4.
For Microsoft it was when they released Jet Set Radio Future and particularly when they had a console exclusivity on Bioshock (for me. I've never been a fan of Xbox's macho side). With Phil Spencer in charge they may finally show proper interest in indie / indie-style games- and ports of great PC games I hope. But they also need more like Remedy. They have to understand that the likes of Remedy, nobody else, are their Naughty Dog and they don't have to throw a fortune at old, milked, franchises like Gears of War and American sports programing.
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