The Evolution of Gaming: From Childhood Joy to the Modern Era
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I love gaming. Since I was a child, it’s always been a hobby of mine. It started off with the Nintendo DS, and playing games like Mario Kart, before moving on to the Nintendo Wii with titles such as Wii Sports. I then moved onto the Xbox 360, my first taste of what I consider ‘proper gaming’. Whilst the Wii was fantastic fun, it wasn’t the best console. It simply couldn’t run the same games the PlayStation and Xbox could because its hardware wasn’t as advanced.
After the 360 came the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. These consoles defined my teenage years, especially those spent at secondary school. For their time, these were highly sophisticated devices capable of running games with extremely good graphics. It meant we saw classics like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2. If you don’t know about these games, watch their trailers and see what technology could produce 10 years ago.
We now have the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5. These consoles are currently the pinnacle of hardware for a home system, but have they lived up to their potential? They’re designed to be able to create even better-looking games—up to 4K—but I’m not sure any developers have really pushed the boat out to create a revolutionary game. I personally blame the free to play model I’ve spoken about before.
For business, free to play is great. It encourages people to try your game out, and they then go on to spend money on the actual game, on purchasing in-game items and expansions. The problem, however, is that it creates lazy game development. Instead of being designed to push these consoles to their limits, games are instead designed so they can be played on both newer and older consoles, to ensure the player base is as large as it can be. It seems the marketplace is full of free to play Battle Royales, because it’s the best way to make money. I can’t blame companies for doing that, but how much money do they truly need?
Video games are made quite sloppily now. They’ll be released in an incomplete state, full of bugs, because developers can now use the internet to patch and update games over time. For games like GTA 5, this is great. They’ve continued upgrading the game over the last 10 years, so there’s always new content. The game was already a masterpiece when it was released, so I don’t mind this. One downside is its developer, Rockstar Games, has been much slower to release a new GTA game as they know they can continue to make money out of the one already released. Rockstar always pushes the boat out with its games. They’re controversial, yes, but looking only at development, their games are unrivalled in quality—both mechanically and graphically. Everybody is waiting for the new Grand Theft Auto to be released, but they’ve stayed very quiet. It’s not even been announced yet.
Whilst Rockstar is, in my opinion, the best game developer, it’s also fallen down the sloppy route I hate so much. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4 had two GTAs in their lifecycle; GTA 5 has been released on three generations of console. Some will say that this shows the quality of the game, but personally I think its lazy; instead of wanting to innovate, they just want to make money. If you’ve bought a new generation of console, I’d be asking Rockstar why they’re not offering much value for the many pounds they’re taking in revenue.
Almost every game released for these consoles can also be played on the previous generation’s. FIFA, for example, is still released on older consoles. These machines are being wasted; they’ve got the potential to have some incredibly detailed games played on them, yet none are created, because such huge games cost lots of money to develop. The free to play model is much more attractive to developers, big and small.
This issue doesn’t just affect video games, it’s society as a whole. Everything comes down to money now, quality doesn’t exist. Food is now more expensive yet you get less in the pack, and new build houses are never built to the same standard as older ones—in fact, all new buildings are only just fit for purpose and are made as cheaply as possible. Nobody wants to show off what they can create anymore. We don’t push the boundaries as to what’s possible—whether this concerns games, cars, houses, etc.