To paraphrase Yoda, always in motion is the future of gaming. Microsoft’s Kinect, Sony’s Move and a brand new color of Wii all promise to colonize the Christmas tree with loads of new gaming goodness this year. Meanwhile, PC gaming appears on the verge of death yet again, and the consoles themselves face possible extinction thanks to cloud-based gaming like On-Live and what appears to be stagnation of the console development cycle itself.
Where does this leave you, the gaming consumer? Sure, we’re in the middle of an era of choice more profound than any other in the history of videogaming, but choice can also mean confusion. $300 game consoles are an investment, and PCs even more. How can you be sure your dollars spent today will translate to fun-having tomorrow? After all, console wars are all fun and games until somebody pulls a Dreamcast, stranding gamers by the thousands with a high-dollar piece of technology and no new games.
Unfortunately this problem is as old as gaming itself. In the early 90s, videogame industry pundits were decrying the death of PC gaming as a new wave of 16-bit gaming consoles cemented the television’s place in the videogaming landscape, and games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis elbowed PC titles off retail shelves. Nevermind that this fierce competition from cheaper, easier-to-use game machines helped drive down the price of PC hardware and usher in the era of DirectX, allowing PC gaming to reclaim the throne just a few short years later.
Today, we’re at another, similar precipice. PC gaming hardware looks to be cheaper now than it has ever been, thanks, in no small part to a severe shortage of new PC games. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a new console generation in the works. Are console makers hoping their movement-based peripherals will hold gamers over for the equivalent of another console generation? Are they simply stalling for time during an unfortunately-timed economic downturn? Or perhaps they’re hedging their bets against the ensuing obsolescence of consoles as a whole, should “cloud” gaming become a reality.
Another, far more likely, possibility is that no one actually knows what’s going to happen. This most recent console battle seems to have been a stalemate between Nintendo, who won the hardware war by putting more Wiis into homes than both of the other major consoles combined, and Microsoft, who actually seems able to keep its channel stuffed with new releases. The PS3, while a great piece of hardware, just isn’t on the map. But what will the landscape look like next year? Next decade? Only Yoda could say for sure.
This week, we dedicate our magazine to the great gaming prophets. Adam Greenbrier takes a stab at judging games by their trailers and Tracey John profiles one of the most prolific pundits in the history of gaming, Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter. We’ll also take a look at the curious link between Japan and Satanism, and Brendan Main profiles one of gaming’s most notorious baddies, Psycho Mantis. Enjoy!