On Xbox One and the Importance of Gameplay
by, 22nd May 2013 at 12:50 AM (812 Views)
As you've probably heard by now, Microsoft has announced their new console today, the Xbox One. And no one seems to care about it. It's not really doing much of anything to appeal to gamers, and it's actually including features that will drive away gamers (such as paywalls for second hand games, Kinect requirement, internet connection required once every 24 hours, etc.). And the only positive feature they've shown off is integration with your TV. Now the fact that they seem to emphasize entertainment apps over games shouldn't really surprise you if you're familiar with Microsoft's business philosophy. Since the very beginning, they've maintained that they want Xbox to be an entertainment hub for your living room.
But that's exactly the problem. Microsoft has the wrong idea about gaming consoles, it should be about gameplay first. New gaming consoles need to show off features that evolve and enhance gameplay, and Xbox One seems to do very little in that department. They need a solid, diverse lineup of exclusive titles to make those purchases worthwhile, not just the same tired shooters and sports games (and yes, I know there are several new IPs for it on the way, but given their views on gaming, I'm not holding my breath for them to be any good). When you no longer offer quality, innovative gaming experiences, gaming begins to feel too samey and boring.
I think Microsoft's failure is indicative of the industry in general. Much like how Microsoft seems to be disinterested in games, many game developers seem to be disinterested in the gameplay aspect of games. Games tend to be rehashed ad nauseum with very little changes made. Shooters dominate the industry and pretty much push every other genre to the wayside. There's too much of an emphasis on graphics, to the point where games feel more like movies than video games. To that end, many developers lately have overblown their budget and fail to make the same kind of profits because the games don't sell as well as they wanted them to. Some have even closed up shop.
The industry as a whole needs to return to what made games unique and fun in the first place, the gameplay. That's what made the next generation of gaming so fun, they always brought with it new gameplay possibilities. That's the very reason the Wii sold well this gen despite being underpowered compared to its competition, the Wii Remote allowed for new gameplay styles.
None of the Big 3 this gen seem to be doing that. The Wii U just seems to be a combination of Wii and DS. There may still be some new use for it, sure, but it's hard to imagine gameplay styles for it that couldn't be done on its predecessors. PS4 and Microsoft basically have prettier looking graphics and nothing else. Simply improving a console's graphical capabilities is not enough to create new gameplay styles anymore, we've hit a point where games have become very close to reality in terms of visuals and from that perspective, there's virtually nothing that can't be done anymore.
You know, a lot of the Chicken Littles of the industry seem to think we're heading for another video game crash. I think that's an exaggeration TBH, but the direction the industry is headed right now certainly isn't a healthy one for the industry.
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