I find myself sitting here today, on the verge of the next console generation. The Wii U was the first to push their next console out the doors. Now with the Xbox One and PS4 arriving supposedly later this year, I feel as though it is most appropriate to actually take a look back and see what I thought of this generation. These are simply my views on things. Nothing more, nothing less.
We'll start off with Microsoft. Releasing in 2005, the Xbox 360 console was the first to launch us into the next generation at that time. It certainly wasn't the best designed console (on how it was put together, not hardware-wise.), yet it gave us a significant step up in both the graphical quality and scope of games. They started out quite strongly in regards to catering both the Western and Eastern styles of games. I bring this up, because of Japan and Microsoft's Xbox 360's current relationship as it stands today. Microsoft managed to secure some great exclusive Japanese Role-playing games. This in theory should have moved units. It did to a certain extent, but support for the system quickly fell over the years in that region. Why this happened? I can only speculate, which I think would veer off a bit from my initial point of this blog. I have heard people commenting that Japanese simply don't like it because it's made in America. Which is entirely untrue when you look at Apple's case over there. The Japanese love the iPhone, which is certainly not a Japanese product.
America was the biggest leader in sales for the Xbox 360, and things were going very well for Microsoft. Over time however, especially the last couple of years Microsoft seems to have shifted their focus away from what it once was. In the beginning, they released some very interesting and wonderful exclusive games. Coming upon the end of this generation I've seen a drop in indie support which was a very big thing for the Xbox 360. As well as a lack of original IP's being made. They focused a lot of time and effort into Kinect, which by all means is a wise business choice if they want to sell more units. It however left a large hole for gamers in general. One that should have been filled with at least a few original game announcements, but was left to sit as the next generation started to unveil itself.
Then we have Xbox Live Gold. A membership, which at the time was phenomenal. It was certainly worth the money paid, because no other console was unifying the online world like Live was. It justified itself in the early years of this generation. Later on down the road however, we saw the release of the PlayStation 3, as well as the Wii. Granted, at the time neither of their online services were much of a match for Live. Skip ahead to 2013 though, and you'll find that services like Steam and the PlayStation Network are quite refined. These things have caused the justified expense of Gold for Xbox to become rather unnecessary. Microsoft should have at least given gamers the ability to play online without having to pay for a membership. If people wanted the extra benefits that comes with Gold, that is fine. Allow them to pay for those. Being a frequent gamer on both Steam and the PlayStation Network, I simply can't find myself willing to pay Gold anymore when I can get practically the same quality of online experience with these two.
The bottom line being... Microsoft started out extremely well, but let things start to stagnate. They supported their 360 platform early on, if only they'd continued to support it like that throughout its lifespan. Microsoft should take note of this for their next console. Whether they do or not however, remains to be seen.
Now we'll move to Nintendo. Their console, the Nintendo Wii launched in 2006. There was a lot of hype surrounding it for their bold new direction of motion control gaming. Even I was caught up in that hype, and very excited the day I got my Wii in. The games were fresh and new, a wonderful experience right from the start. I bought six games with my Wii when it launched, and I recall only playing Wii Sports the entire night. It was just so much fun at the time, I didn't even get to try out my copy of Zelda Twilight Princess. There was no doubt that Nintendo's Wii console was a smashing success. Not only with core gamers, but casuals as well. For the first time parents, children, and even grandparents were all playing games together. It drew a lot of attention, and they rode that wave all the way to success, right?
Yes, and no... Financially speaking, Nintendo did extremely well with the Wii. They took this console generation's first place, in terms of sales numbers. Yet, the core games were too far between each other. The Wii was flooded with loads of casual games, for casual gamers and the novelty of motion control wore off rather quickly. These two things caused the core gamers to let the Wii sit and collect dust while they played their 360's, PC's, or PS3's. I loved my Wii the first few months, but after I'd played the main games I wanted to play in its initial launch, the system simply sat there in disuse for too long. There ARE some amazing games out there for the Wii, there's no doubt there, but they were just too few and far between. One thing I will say about Nintendo this generation however... They did "one-up" (Mario joke anyone?) Microsoft in their 'end game'. At the end of the Wii's lifespan, we got to see two amazing RPG's localized. The Last Story and Xenoblade were very well made games, especially the latter. Xenoblade was one of my favorite RPG's in recent memory. I'm glad Nintendo kept their fans tided over nicely coming into the next generation like they did.
The Wii's online service is the most cumbersome of the three big console companies. The friend IDs were an okay idea, but it was too troublesome to try and make friends with people online. As a result I only had two friends on my Wii. Whereas I had 10+ on both the PSN and Xbox Live.
Whether you liked the Wii or hated it. There's no doubt it was a financial success. It also did some good in getting families together, and putting gaming in a more positive light than it usually got. It had some wonderful gems amid all the shovelware, and the motion control novelty wore off a little too quickly. However, it was a well made system, and I'm sure it won't soon be forgotten.
Last but not least, we have Sony. They released their console the PlayStation 3 in 2006 as well. It was considered the most affordable blu-ray player at the time, and was relying on riding the wave of success from their PlayStation 2 console. Sony had become quite full of themselves at this time, telling people to get a second job if they wanted their system. It was extremely pricey, and while it did have some interesting IP's to start off with, the game library at the time was lacking.
The systems were taking money out of Sony's pocket and causing them to fall into financial decline. Their focus however remained on games, and soon enough we got to see some amazing and original IP's that continued to grow and grow. One complaint I continually heard over the first year or two of the PlayStation 3 launch, was that there were no games. It seems as though Sony must have taken that to heart, as they've lately been releasing too many exclusives to count. Everything from tiny little "Mini" games, all the way up to "AAA" quality titles. One can't deny that Sony has invested a lot to keep core gamers happy. It seems to be their main focus, and that's definitely a good thing.
Moving on to the PlayStation Network, it wasn't the most polished network out there, but it worked well enough. It was free, and it was acceptable. However, as time went on, Sony introduced PlayStation Plus. A service which has quickly become a smashing success in the eyes of most gamers who have subscribed to the service. With the promise of your "Instant Game Collection", and getting new games every month, there really wasn't much to dislike about it. You pay your set standard fee, and you get to play all the games you want in your collection. The longer you're subscribed, the more games you'll have to play. It's a win/win for both Sony and the consumer in most cases.
When 2012 rolled around, a man named Kaz Hirai stepped up as the president and CEO of Sony. Under his leadership, the company restructured their services, and made a unified experience. He has been working tirelessly to turn Sony around from the financial pit they'd found themselves in early on with the PlayStation 3 console. Now that they've climbed out of that hole and are starting to make some real profit again, the future of PlayStation is looking brighter than ever.
I consider the PlayStation 3 to be the exact opposite of the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 was shining brilliantly when it launched and a few years after that. The PlayStation 3 came out with nothing to show, and no justification for its price tag other than it being a blu-ray player. Now it seems as though roles have been reversed. The PlayStation 3 is doing amazingly well and churning out lots of new exclusives, whereas the Xbox 360 has hit a rut and has left gamers with nothing to look forward to anymore. Both systems were extremely capable, but Sony's strong support for their platform has gained them the lead this time around it seems.
There we have it... These are just my thoughts on this generation, and I hope they were at least somewhat entertaining to read through. I made a blog before, and some liked it, so I figured I'd try again. Thanks to anyone who decided to read through my post, I really appreciate it! No matter what system you side with, or what games you like to play... We've all made gaming our hobby and to some of us it's a lifestyle. I'm fortunate to have discovered such a passion for games, and I can't wait to see where the next generation of consoles will take us. Everyone out there keep on gaming!
"The London-based (the UK) indie games publisher and developer Kepler Interactive and Seattle -based (the US) indie games developer Ironwood Studios, are today super excited and happy to announce that their driving-survival adventure “Pacific Drive”, is coming to PC (via Steam) and Playstation (PS5 and PS4) on February 22nd, 2024." - Jonas Ek, TGG.