Game Over: Analysis of CNN article “Why Console Gaming is Dying” by Blake Snow

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

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/&gt;.

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/&gt;.

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&gt;.

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&gt;.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Game Over: Analysis of CNN article “Why Console Gaming is Dying” by Blake Snow

  1. omar373 says:

    These are some highly interesting analyses. What I have noticed from your essay is that while some analysts see video games as a dying industry due to several reasons including the decrease in actual gameplay (versus more non-gameplay activities), this is a form of diversification that seems necessary for the industry to survive and continue to build and attract new demographics to video gaming, such as the man who’s sole reason for purchasing a PS3 was for the blu-ray player. Another interesting point to make is that awareness of “creative stagnation” in video games which argues that there is lowered marginal innovation and advancement in the gaming industry in recent years. This certainly has been occurring, especially in certain fields such as some sports related games, however at this day in age it is not always necessary for video games to advance in the same directions. Rather, video games have improved to a level where they have satisfied their target audiences, and as an industry should look to attracting new people to the idea of gaming. The Kinnect, as well as the latest social-media backed online games through companies such as Zynga seem to achieve this, by signing people onto games that aren’t set up in the traditional manner with game controls and a console.

  2. namaram says:

    It’s starting to seem like the the console is slowly wearing out its last refuge and you point that out very well in your discussion. The graphics have been at its peak for a while and the console industry has to entice us in other ways to give us a reason to buy. Interestingly as you explain, the rationale seems that in order to survive the console has to become a lot more like the PC but for the television. It used to be that they did this with graphics, but by now the two mediums have almost caught up (just almost because those computers are still expensive). In addition, we’ve reached the same creative wall much like cinema where the industry has been forced to rely on AAA titles and avoid risking remaining revenue on new ideas. Players are starting to catch on too as we see another Modern Warfare/Call of Duty # and Pokemon (insert precious material or color here). We have reached the wall and its only a matter of time before either the console developers or the game publishers fall.
    Like you I don’t think that console are at the verge of death or at least not yet. I think that the console has one last vestige that can save itself from its own destruction and that is the of monopoly on immersive and hardcore games. Immersive in the fact that with motion controls, you open a window of opportunities. Hardcore in the fact that games like God of War allow the glorification and draw of game elements best on the TV screen. And as art that is best viewed on a large interface. However, PC games have also had their foot in this territory for a while. If the day comes that the TV and the PC merge successfully, perhaps then we may see the end of the console era, the Playstation, Xbox, and all.

  3. nrbontha says:

    I agree that the console gaming industry needs to be revolutionized in the same way that mobile gaming has been revolutionized in order for the Playstation or the Xbox to survive in the long-term. For example, the the use of touch screens in mobile gaming (like in an iPhone or an iPad) has changed the way that gamers interact with a game. My dad, who rarely plays games, was addicted to Angry Birds on the iPhone but finds console games too complicated. Mainly, he says that the controller is too clunky and complicated to use. However, the iPhone’s touch screen is much easier to use because there are no buttons and you only have to use your finger to play the game. The Wii “won” the current iteration of the console wars primarily because Nintendo focused on new ways to play games through motion control technology instead of being hyper-focused on graphics and raw computing power like Sony and Microsoft. The Wii brought out people who had not played console games before because of its new, revolutionary controller and other innovative peripherals. The Wii’s price point of $250 (compared to the Xbox’s $400 price tag and the PS3’s $600 price tag) certainly drove sales. Nevertheless, Nintendo cut costs specifically because it didn’t want to spend millions on developing an expensive chip-set like Sony and Microsoft. The Playstation Move and the Xbox Kinect are steps in right the direction, but in order for consoles to compete against new platforms, new approaches to interactivity are absolutely essential.

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