The seventh generation of home consoles has been a long and bloody one. Like every other generation, there’s been highs and lows. Unlike previous ones however, we’ve seen huge leaps in how we purchase and play games. There’s been huge advances and features added to each, as our standard of gaming increases. This generation has offered a huge library of masterpieces and big sellers, which will surely be remembered as classics, if they’re not already. The life cycle of these consoles aren’t over yet, and we’ve already gotten games such as BioShock, The Last of Us, Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 3, Uncharted 2, Wii Fit, Halo 3, The Walking Dead, and many others. In just one console generation, we’ve seen three Uncharted titles, four Saints Row games, four epic open-world Bethesda adventures, six Assassin’s Creeds, the original Mass Effect trilogy, the birth (and possibly the death of) the Dead Space franchise, four Gears of War games, three different entries in the Souls franchise, the rise of Call of Duty, and the death of the rhythm genres.
For those who play on PlayStation systems, this was the first time we got an actual universal online account system, one that carries over across every game. For both Microsoft and Sony, we saw an increased focus on multiplayer titles, especially with the success of games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Gears of War, and Halo 3. This was also the generation that brought forth downloadable content. Sure, there were expansion packs and the like before, but we now have a large variety of DLC, from expansion packs like Shivering Isles, to cheap costume packs in Borderlands 2, to expandalone titles like Blood Dragon and Undead Nightmare. Though many larger publishers refuse to sell anything that doesn’t have the potential to become a huge million-dollar franchise, we’ve also seen the rise of indie games, and smaller titles that may not otherwise exist in the retail-only market that existed one generation prior. Games like Journey, Case Zero, Outland, Bastion, Limbo, Braid, and many others are games that wouldn’t have any place on the Xbox and PS2.
We also saw a lot of these ideas abused, as some rather negative trends began popping up. Add-ons like Shivering Isles, Ballad of Gay Tony, and Lair of the Shadow Broker are enough to justify the existence of downloadable content. However, the downside of this is DLC that isn’t even downloaded. Instead, we pay to unlock parts of the disc that are locked off from players. Instead of going all-out to create an incredible game, developers started stripping once-accepted features and selling them for extra. Now we have Uncharted 3’s multiplayer going “free-to-play”, and Dead Rising 2 getting an add-on for cheat codes. Suddenly, the word “downloadable content” doesn’t feel all the appropriate when the content for which you are paying is already in the game. Do we really need to pay money to switch around a few digits at the top of the screen? Isn’t that what cheats are for?
A lot of these titles and concepts are ingrained into the fabric of gaming culture, but it’s important to realize that these are still fairly new. So which console did it better? Who is the real “winner” here? Looking at worldwide sales, it’s fairly clear that Wii dominated the competition by entering the mainstream. The Wii was a console for gamers and non-gamers alike. If you’re wondering why so many games are “casualised”, this is probably a big contributor. What about the other big two? In the sixth generation, Sony was the undisputed king of the console war. The PlayStation 2 was the best console of that generation, and is arguably still one of the greatest consoles ever made. However, this clearly wasn’t the case with its successor, the PlayStation 3. Sony came in late, with the most expensive console on the market. Xbox 360 on the other hand, was the cheaper system, and from personal experience, it was always the console that your friends had. It was an extremely social console, with intensely competitive multiplayer titles such as Halo, Gears of War, and Left 4 Dead. It also got first dibs on a lot of exclusives, meaning gamers on the 360 could get their hands on Mass Effect, BioShock, Fable, and all of Bethesda’s love before anyone on the PS3. However, when it came to worldwide sales, Xbox 360 came in last place, but only barely. Despite its extremely rocky start, the PS3 pulled through with a free online service, and a premium service that offered a lot more than Microsoft’s. However, Microsoft and Sony won out in each of their respective countries, though Sony and Nintendo’s dominance in Japan are to such an extent that Microsoft has delegated it to a second-tier country.
So who won? Well, no one and everyone. Depending on how you look at it, you could declare a winner for any of the big three, but what matters is that all three were able to coexist in a highly competitive market. If we had a clear, decisive winner from the get-go, the real loser would have been the customer.
The next generation starts in only a few days, but that doesn’t mean that this one ends there. To put it into perspective, the last PlayStation 2 game just came out this year, almost seven whole years after its successor launched. Though some have declared this console generation over a long time ago, saying we’ve tapped out the potential of these machines. However, with no backwards compatibility, and great games such as Metal Gear Solid V and Dark Souls II on the horizon, I don’t think these consoles are going anywhere soon.
This is certainly going to be an interesting console generation. After seven long years, people are ready to move on to the next big thing. We’re ready for a change. With Mircosoft’s downright shameful and entirely inept approach to public reception, the PS4 has a huge head start this generation, with Xbone behind it. The Wii U tripped and died on the way to the race. Say what you want about the Wii U-I think it’s a really cool system myself-but the fact that people are saying that the new console generation starts on the fifteenth says a lot. I wouldn’t discount the Xbone just yet, however. With Killer Instinct, the Xbone seems like the first choice for huge fighting game fans. The Wii U isn’t necessarily dead, either. Like the Vita, all it needs is a few solid exclusives to survive. Will the classic Nintendo line-up be enough to save this console? Or will it suffer the same fate as the Dreamcast?
I don’t want this to just be an extension of the old generation. I want eighth gen to be a fresh start, a chance at re-evaluating what makes a console great. As someone who’s been with the PlayStation 3 since the start, I can attest that it’s come a long way since its original release. When it first launched, I couldn’t even send messages in-game. However, I also recently got a new PC, and with it, Steam. Despite advances for both consoles, they still have a long way to go compared to their competitors on PC. On the PlayStation 3, there’s no easy way acsess your digital library. With such a limited amount of space on the hard drive, I have no reason to go digital. In order to find the games I own, I have to go to the PlayStation Store and scroll down through every letter, since I can’t type it in. On Steam, my entire library is accessible with a single click. People complain that you can’t change your username on PSN, but on Steam, this is a non-issue, because I can make my display name anything I want, and it doesn’t even have to be unique. Other features such as nicknames for users and player groups are also incredibly useful for keeping track of all your friends online. Trading cards are also something that everyone should hop onto, because it’s a brilliant feature. In general, I think we should all pay attention to what Steam does, considering the billions that Valve has made.
With the next generation right around the corner, I’m cautiously optimistic. The Wii U is struggling against negative sales numbers in some places, and will be lucky just to survive. Microsoft is selling a weaker system at a higher price, on top of the huge slew of mistakes they’ve made at every conceivable turn. None of this screams competition to me, and I’m a bit worried we’re coming into this race a little lopsided. This generation has been a huge leap forward, and I hope the next one will be even bigger. However, with each advance in technology we get, we find new ways to abuse it. Despite my concerns, I think this is going to be one hell of a console generation. Let’s just hope it’s not our last.
I have twice now left you messages about my issues with the unreasonable edits you made to The Collaborative Writing Project on the scifi wiki, and you have chosen not to respond to me. I find it highly unlikely you did not see my complaints, and I am deeply offended at the removals you have made. Respond and do not ignore me. --Master Tej (talk) 19:49, June 22, 2013 (UTC)