I think the last time I truly loved a game console was back in the days of the PS2, it was small, up to date, beautifully made and just right for what I wanted. I remember being able to buy it after a month of pushing trollies around a Tesco car park, my dad came to pick me up and with mostly all of my pay I rushed into the electrical store, literally grabbed an employees shirt and tugged on it until he got the idea and followed me, standing in front of a shelf I pointed up at the box, a box that seemed to glow like the sun, “That one” I said through slightly shaking lips “I would like one of those please” the excitement growing ever so much inside me as the man bought the console to the till, beep! Went the till as I almost wet myself with at anticipation, the time had almost come, the time I would become the proud owner of a Playstation 2!
The feelings of longing and love for such machines has sadly ebbed away from my life however, it is now being replaced with sighs, groans and lack of interest. Sure the old games were a bit buggy, sure they didn’t look as good as they do now and sure they (for the most part) didn’t go on the Internet or play the next generation of disks, it did what it was meant to do, entertain me!
Now I know what some of you may be thinking, that I am simply getting to old, that I only like the old, now retro games and that I am simply “growing out” of gaming, well don’t be so quick to judge! I am hugely excited about many games, including Borderlands 2 and Command and Conquer Generals 2 to name but a few, I love to game and my passion for gaming has not changed one bit over the years, what has changed is the lack of good choice in gaming. Not me that has changed for the worst, it’s the games industry and especially on consoles.
Let’s take some recent additions to the console market, for instance GoW3 was number one redone again, I found it boring and slow and to quote a friend while playing the first level “Ok so this is a huge monster, where do they go from this?”. He was right, it went nowhere, and nowhere slow, it didn’t hold any sparkle, any love any special qualities for me, like older games used to. BF3 was ok, pathetic single player as all BFs do and the multiplayer, well it looked nice, however never play the PC version then try to go back to the console version as it is day and night in difference, there was FF13 and Fable3 both of which had previous versions of itself that engaged you in the lives of the games inhabitants but now I now found to be linear bore fests of utter CBA game production, these are just some titles that have pushed me away from this gen of consoles, the other main reason of course is fad, gimmicky bullshit like the PS Move and the Kinect! Really Sony and MS, I know the film industry for the most part has run out of ideas so has turned to 3D but you have no excuse, you can literally create any damn thing you like in a virtual world.
I believe, and I believe in this quiet strongly that gamers expect and put up with less now, yea OK it looks nicer, yea OK it has the HD capabilities but then there is a darn good reason why games like Minecraft and bundles like The Humble Indie Bundle with games such as Super Meat Boy and Amnesia are doing so well, it’s because people want MORE. Throwing all the graphics in the world at people is not going to help a game let down by slow-paced action and/or a lack or story. Now take Thomas was alone for instance, basic graphics, a good basic sound track and not that long, but boy does it draw you into the story of a little square and all his “friends” on an adventure to become more than they are , to strive to greatness, to break free!. That is what I want, something engaging, something new, something to pour out at me like a well written book being read by Patrick Stewart, not dribble on my shoes like Noddy goes fishing narrated by Droppy the elevator dog!
Now lets not forget that consoles were born out of the ease of use that PC’s of the time didn’t have. With PC’s of old it was a bugger to get things to work, crashes and addons/patches would take some time to download once the internet had arrived, but look at the consoles now, they have lost their ease of use, have lost their edge to PC’s. You substituted graphics and bigger gaming experiences on the PC with a “pay n play” type approach on a console, yea it was a little more expensive but that was OK, now however every single game I have on the 360 is “installed” on the hard drive and since games companies seem incapable of releasing a game these days without bugs you have to get it patched! 25 mins I waited for a BF3 patch when it first come out, 25 mins I could have spent doing on a PC and at the end have a cheaper game, better graphics and double the on-line people to play with! This is not all the consoles have done to push me steadily away, ow no, it’s that attitude of one on-line pass per player. So OK EA if I buy BF3 then play it, sell the game I am no longer on-line with it, a new person picks up the game second-hand and has to pay AGAIN for the right to go on-line with the very same game? How does that make sense? There was one person using the on-line functionality, which was me, then I sold it so the count went to zero then another person picks it up and the count goes to one. That does not cost you one penny more to facilitate as there are never more people playing the game when buying second-hand. Just money grabbing at this point. Also the policy of having to pay to go on-line, less of a problem with the PS3 however still a problem to pay anything to go on-line as I pay a phone line bill which enables me to get an internet bill which then enables me to get another bill each year for me to play on-line, that is after the bill for the console itself, the extra controllers, plus the game as well? You think the world is made of money. The money grabbing does not end there, then if you want a DLC it is bought with points on the Xbox360, points which are very carefully manipulated so you never have enough to buy anything of substance, you always have to buy more and of course they are so carefully watched that you’ll always have to pay for more than you need to get the DLC you require, leaving you with a few hundred points left over so that the weak and foolish will think that they are “so close” to getting something next time with the points they have spare.
I truly hope that the next-gen of consoles realise that there is an ever growing number of people who are finding there is a world of options opening up to us now, from Steam on Linux, OnLive doing deals with Google TV and also the vast amount of interest in Indie games that are cheaper, easier and quicker to obtain than the current mess that is the console industry, it is high time that console manufactures come to terms with the facts that they will either adapt or die.