February 8, 2013 by aliymahmed
By Aliy Ahmed
An article on Ars Technica has reported that Sony is on the verge of patenting technology which can prevent used video games from being played on its consoles. Another article from The Escapist warns Microsoft to not use this technology or else video game sales will plummet. Video game sales are greatly suffering as it is, and with a continuing trend to make console video games less accessible to the public in this subpar economy, console video game sales will continue to suffer. Snow investigates the multiple reasons as to why console video games are declining in sales.
According to Snow, one of the reasons why console gaming has not lived up to expectations is because of the multiple non-gaming functions of consoles taking over family life, which he terms the “Trojan Horse” concept. At the beginning of November 2012, Microsoft found that “40% of all Xbox activity now is non-game.” It’s not too surprising, as Amazon and Netflix are accessible through the Xbox 360. The reason why we have a PS3 in my own house is because my dad wanted to buy a Blu-ray DVD player and found the PS3 was cheaper than an actual Blu-ray DVD player at the time, while also having internet browsing and gameplay features. However, in pointing out these statistics and console values, Snow does weaken his argument. In the event that 40% of Xbox activity is related to non-gaming, the other 60% is related to gaming. This, in turn, points out that console games are still being played, and while video games are not the first priority of some consumers of video game consoles, video games do eventually get bought, as is the case in my household. The multiple functions of consoles would only serve as an incentive to buy them and their video games.
Another issue that Snow brings up is the case of creative stagnation; that the newest ideas are, in a sense, old. Snow quotes Hutchinson, the creative director of Ubisoft, in saying that XBLA and PSN games as well as “free to play” games are very similar to games that he had played on the SNES. Neurath, the creative director of Zynga, and Cole, a gaming analyst, even believe that a majority of gamers don’t play games for the graphics anymore since improvement in graphics are not as revolutionary as they once used to be. There is stagnancy in the creativity of video games, no doubt. Taking the Call of Duty and Madden series as examples, the concept of both games are the same as the previous versions. Call of Duty is still a first person shooter each time, and aside from new maps and a few new weapons and perhaps a zombie mode, there isn’t much else to separate one game from the next. In Madden, the only features that are different each year are the new players that teams obtain over the offseason prior to the game’s release and improved physics of the game. There might be more features of both of these games that are not mentioned, but these sum it up that a large majority of video games are not advancing in creative ideas. In a sense, though, Hutchinson is somewhat wrong. With the rise of add-ons to consoles such as the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect, movement-based games simulate a new kind of experience, but even in this case, these movement-based games are being limited to an extent in that there are a myriad of dancing and workout games with only a few games outside of these genres.
One of the major factors contributing to the demise of console gaming is the rise of cheap, social gaming, and more specifically, mobile gaming. According to one article from Wired, an astounding 76 of the top grossing 100 iOS apps are games. Snow brings up a valid point that mobile games are much less expensive than console games. This scenario would highly favor the purchase of mobile games over console games. In-game purchases also contribute to the rise of video games with more serious gamers buying multiple items in the game in addition to the game itself.
Console gaming, at this rate, won’t be around for much longer. However, console games are not fated to be doomed necessarily. There is hope. Snow mentions that the Xbox 360 is 7 years old, and the PS3 and the Wii are both 6 years old. Making newer, fresher consoles would help console gaming to a certain extent as long as there are multiple features that are enhanced in them. Movement-based games are becoming more popular, but more will be needed from consoles. Hutchinson also mentions that games need to “explain to players why they made certain artistic decisions, what mood they’re setting with their lighting and color choices, and less about the technical features…We need to offer more experiences that are understandable to people’s real lives, either in terms of mechanics or narrative…Our mechanics are often not the barrier, but our content sometimes is.” These visions for the future of gaming would make console gaming a much more meaningful experience for the people who play them.
Chalk, Andy. “GameStop Warns Against Anti-Used Game Technology.” The Escapist. 7 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Feb. 2013.
Chou, Kevin. “Mobile Kills the Console But Advances the Gaming Industry.” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 29 Jan. 0013. Web. 07 Feb. 2013. <http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/01/how-mobile-kills-the-console-but-advances-the-gaming-industry/>.
Orland, Kyle. “Examining Sony’s Internet-free Method for Blocking Used Game Sales.” Ars Technica. 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 07 Feb. 2013. <http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/01/examining-sonys-internet-free-method-for-blocking-used-game-sales/>.
Snow, Blake. “Why Console Gaming Is Dying.” CNN. Cable News Network, 09 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/09/tech/gaming-gadgets/console-gaming-dead>.
Totilo, Chris Suellentrop And Stephen. “VIDEO GAMES; Gaming Faces Its Archenemy: Financial Reality.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Oct. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/arts/video-games/video-game-retail-sales-decline-despite-new-hits.html?pagewanted=all>.