Posted by: seanmalstrom | May 29, 2014

Email: Gen 7 is slow because of small returns on iteration

Sean, consider that each generation improved dramatically on its
successor in very concrete ways. It wasn’t just the graphics; it was
the type of games you could play with those graphics. You couldn’t
really do an arcade-quality game on the NES. You couldn’t do an
open-world game on the PS1. You didn’t have a hard drive on the PS2,
so you couldn’t do an Elder Scrolls game, and online was pretty
limited. Now what’s Gen 7 offering? The biggest change I’m seeing is
online games no longe will struggle to handle a large number of
players (the PS3/360 Battlefield games were capped at 24 players; very
few games had more than that).

With each successive 3D generation, the marginal gains on what sort of
games we see get smaller and smaller. And the biggest game is
Minecraft anyway, because it’s nothing like, “Last gen’s biggest
game…but prettier!”

If Gen 7 and Gen 8 didn’t have much differentiation, then why would the bottom fall out of Gen 7 in the transition to Gen 7 to Gen 8? It would make sense if NES sales dropped dead with the release of 16-bit consoles or GBA sales dropped with the release of DS but that didn’t happen. The old generation kept selling well for another year or two. I think the economy is the explaining factor.

I have no idea why someone would buy the PS4/XOne outside the ‘new hardware freshness’ of the launch. Every AAA game seems the same to me. On a link in the post below, others are thinking it as well. It seems kids are the ones who think the latest AAA game is ‘so cool’ and ‘teh awesome’. As you get older, you realize it just isn’t that way. You also begin to appreciate older games and recent games where the games weren’t AAA (like some indie games).

Perhaps Generation 8’s appeal will be console hardware that doesn’t blow up like the Red Ring of Death.

You know, if you go back to the Golden Eras of gaming as well as Golden Eras of music and movies, they tend to coincide with vibrant economic and cultural periods. The 1980s with its huge economic growth coincided with the Arcade Boom, PC Gaming Rise, Handheld Gaming Rise, Atari Era, NES Era as well as classic movies and songs. In the 1990s, we also saw a vibrant, although maybe lesser, gaming landscape as well as the rise of the Internet. What I find so curious is that Japan’s economic trajectory really began to go south sometime in the 1990s which began to coincide with the decreasing relevance of Japanese gaming. Now, Japan’s macroeconomic state is in bad shape and so is its gaming influence.

Japan really could be the sign of where things are going. When people have less money, it really hurts young people. You don’t have the discretionary income to go out and socialize, to go out and date, to go out and live life. A malaise settles in. It’s something I’m sensing with people now.

Why is it that in the 1950s a carpenter could raise eight kids with the wife staying home while saving money? Why is it in the 1980s both parents had to go to work to keep the same standard of living? Why is it in the 1990s, the savings rate (in America) disappeared? And why is it in the 2000s everyone is now paying for everything in debt? There is clearly something going on in the currency.

I think Generation 8 is going to be Major Lameness the entire way through. I’m hoping that the economies pick up in Generation 9 so we can see some interesting stuff.


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