Roddy's Ramblings

Thoughts and tales; some of them may even be true.

My Photo
Location: Australia

Hopefully whatever there is to know about me will come through whatever is written below - whatever that may bring...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The death knell in the 80s not being heard today...

The only truism I know is that there is only one truism. Likewise, the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.

Take the World War 1914-1918; it was called "The war to end all wars".

But where does the above lead apart from the massage of an egocentric word prowess? It leads to consoles, the next generation and the 80s.

There is currently a big race on for the next generation of consoles, the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the Revolution. There is not really a need for next generation consoles as yet as the current ones are still making more and more use of the hardware. For examples, check out Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube and PS2, God of War for the PS2 or Half Life 2 for the current Xbox. There are others as well that deserve a mention like the Burnout series and Shadow of the Colossus. I would hope that when the games can no longer make any headway on the current hardware, then it is time for a next generation.

So what has all this to do with the 80s; well its because history may be about to repeat itself.

At the beginning of the 80s, arcades were the big thing. I was there and I remember it well. It was exciting, there was innovation and there was lots to different machines to spend any 10p I had. I remember the first time I saw the sit down Star Wars machine's colour vector grahics, voices from the film, blowing up a Death Star - it was fab. Then there was the first time I saw the full sit-in, moving Out Run cabinet... those were glory days.

As time wore on in the early 80s, the Jamma standard came around. It was prohibitively expensive (i.e. lowered the profit margin) to keep making unique cabinets and circuit boards for each game. The Jamma standard allowed the same cabinet to be used for different standardised boards; take one out and put another in and it'll fire up mapped to the generic buttons on the top. The first thing that was noticable was that machines started to head to the lowest common denominator. They became grubby with games not matching the marquees and as they were in use for longer they were often covered with ripped stickers and you could not tell which buttons were meant to be in use. Most of all though, when the cabinets became generic, so did the games. The became horizontally scrolling beat 'em ups, vertical shoot 'em ups or copies of old games like Pacman or Galaxians. The few original games like Starblade or Virtual Skiing were costing #1 or #2 for a very controlled, very short game. Then the market collapsed. Nobody saw it coming, but everybody just stopped going.

Fast forward to today...

The next generation of consoles have started arriving and what games to we see for it? Updates of previous games with updated graphics like Call of Duty 2, the standard EA annual release of their golf, football and whatever sport they have bought the rights to. The controllers are exactly the same; with one notable exception we will come to in a tick. The cost has gone up dramatically. Here in Australia, when the Xbox 360 goes on sale it will be $650. That is a lot of money. Considering buying 3 games for it, then you're up to $1,000.

I hope you can see where I'm leading with this... higher prices for games becoming more and more generic... the market is going to collapse once more. If you think that someone in the media will see it coming and point it out, think again. There are reviews of the Xbox 360 that say "its a revolution in gaming" followed a few sentences later by "the lineup of games is not very impressive". Reviews are waxing lyrical about the controller, which is a copy of the original without the wire.

There is also an expectation to buy credits as soon as you buy your machine. This will allow you, amongst many exciting things, to buy a new desktop layout. Maybe your gaming enthusiast will lap it up, but Joe Blogs man-on-the-street will not want to fork out any more money having just spent so much on the machine. I'm one of them, so I speak from experience.

There is a light shining in the distance in the shape of the Revolution. It has a controller in the shape of a TV remote control; filled with gyroscopes and funky stuff. It is basically a Gamecube version 2.0, with the same line of processors but faster and the same with the graphics card... fully backwards compatible with every Nintendo first party game and built in wi-fi.

Anyway, time will tell...


Post a Comment

<< Home