It’s been over a year since the release of the 8th generation consoles – PS4 and Xbox One. Yet many of us still haven’t felt excited enough about any of the exclusively new-gen games to throw down over £300.
Since the release of the first Playstation in 1994 – which is still the second highest selling console ever, second only to the PS2 – the gaming industry has evolved drastically. Console gaming has arguably been eclipsed by high-spec PC’s for regular gamers, as illustrated by the soaring popularity of the MOBA League of Legends. The casual gaming realm is now dominated by tablets and smart phones, provided you have three friends to unlock your levels. With the focus in game development shifting more and more away from traditional gaming methods, where exactly does this leave console gamers?
Right now, it leaves us waiting for the developers to pull out the big guns and release something exciting enough to warrant buying an expensive console for reasons beyond ‘future-proofing’. Over the past year, most companies appear to have been playing it safe and all but one of the top ten bestselling games for PS4 were cross generation. Out of this ten, eight were sequels or re-mastered versions of PS3 releases. This trend is reflected in the Xbox One’s best sellers.
Perhaps, however, this view is unduly harsh. The Call of Duty games continue to sell as well as ever for some reason. Furthermore, developers Bungie have seen success with the release of Destiny, an FPS with MMO and RPG elements. Destiny sold well on all consoles, even though it received mixed reviews. With addictive gameplay, an appealing art style, and a strong online community, Destiny is definitely one of the bigger hits in an otherwise disappointing year.
Despite the success, Destiny was a cross-generation game. Bungie have admitted they felt restricted by the decade-old hardware, claiming that the scale of the game would have been greater if the game was solely on the next generation of consoles. This is a problem which is likely to have been shared by other developers of cross-generation games.
It cannot be said with any certainty when gamers will get to enjoy the full capabilities of an eighth-gen console, but there are still many upcoming games with potential to be a break through title. Generation exclusive games No Man’s Sky, a procedurally generated infinite survival/exploration game, and Bloodborne, an action RPG, are heavily anticipated new IP’s. There are also many planned sequel releases for well-established franchises. For example, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Halo 5: Guardians all of which are set to continue the success of their predecessors.
As it has been fifteen months since the release of the new consoles, it is perhaps too early to throw in the towel just yet. 2014 was overall a disappointing year, yet teething problems in transitioning from one gaming generation to another is not a new problem. The PS3 and Xbox 360 took a while to gain traction also. For now, we should look forward to the coming year, and to any exciting news E3 2015 may bring us.