If you’re reading this, you’re probably a hardcore gamer.
And if you’re a hardcore gamer, you’re already aware that the Wii U is about to become the first console to start the “Next Generation.” You’re also probably aware that despite the fact that there’s been no official announcement, it’s a given by now that both Sony and Microsoft are working on their successors to the PS3 and Xbox 360, and we’ll probably hear about them at the next E3.
Which means, if you stop and think about it, that you, as a hardcore gamer that always has to have the latest, greatest technology, are looking at the last Christmas you will have with your current generation hardware.
If you’re a heavy Nintendo user, you’re nearly at the point of no return as it is. The Wii U is going to replace your old Wii, and you’ll put it in the closet, sell it, or give it to some needy friend or relative. Some of you may wait for a price drop, sure, but the hardest of the hardcore Nintendo fans are already making space for their new system since the launch is now just a few short weeks away.
And as for the rest of us?
It’s been a good run, really. There were some things that were introduced this generation that got off to a rocky start, like downloadable content, but we quickly moved on from the ludicrousness of Oblivion’s overpriced Horse Armor to some real value for money, such as Captain Scarlett & Her Pirate’s Booty for Borderlands 2. Even the interfaces we’ve used online aren’t the same ones that we started with. Try remembering what Xbox Live was like (“blades,” anyone?) when you first got your Xbox 360, or the Playstation Network and its store versus what we have now.
That’s not bad for a generation that started off with RROD, a $600 Blu-Ray machine and a belief that motion controls would never catch on with casual audiences.This was a generation that was full of a lot of experimentation, particularly with online activity. No console before the Xbox 360 and PS3 had such a heavy online component. In one sense all of us as gamers were the guinea pigs that helped to figure out what worked and what didn’t in this scenario and lessons have been learned by both Microsoft and Sony. Microsoft, for example, now realizes that its infamous “space bucks” or Microsoft Points as a form of artificial currency may not have been the best way to go for handling online transactions. Meanwhile Sony has now grudgingly realized just how important some kind of party chat system could be to their online infrastructure as players howled—for years to this very day—about its absence. It’s been a strange kind of generation overall in that sense. The console we have at the end of it is not quite the same one we had at the start. When has that ever happened for a console owner?
Now, six years later, here we are at the twilight of our generation. For the hardcore, the early adopters, this will be the last year you play a Call of Duty of Assassin’s Creed game on your PS3 or 360. This will be the last Halo and last God of War these machines will likely see. There are going to be new machines coming in 2013, and doubtless new franchises to go with them. But for this generation, we had some worthy additions of the canon of great game series. Both Nathan Drake and Marcus Fenix are new names now synonymous with action and gunplay. Borderlands showed us that looting and shooting CAN play well together in a game and Telltale’s The Walking Dead proved that adventure games still have a place in a gamer’s collection, even a console gamer.
That’s not bad for a generation that started off with RROD, a $600 Blu-Ray machine and a belief that motion controls would never catch on with casual audiences. If nothing else, as this seventh generation of consoles closes out its last full year, we can safely say that for everyone—publishers, developers and even the gamers themselves—lessons were learned.