The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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The Wild, Wild Tech: The games they are a-changin’

For the past decade, the gaming industry has been fairly predictable. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have been the major players, each one
battling the others in the console wars. On the handheld front, Nintendo continued its dominance, although Sony did rise up and challenge the Big N with its PSP line.
Most importantly, all of these devices were designed to play games. Sure, they might play DVDs or have some slight multimedia capabilities, but it was not their primary goal. Recently all of that has changed.
Lately, rumors have been spreading about the possibility of the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s next-generation console, doubling as a cable box. This is
something Sony experimented with in the past with its Japan-only PSX, a PlayStation 2 running expanded software with DVR capabilities. In addition, the PS3 is capable of being a DVR, although this is not officially supported in the US.
It has also been revealed that the upcoming Android 4.0 operating system, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, will have native support for
game controllers.
This means that upcoming games for Android phones and tablets do not necessarily have to be touch screen-based. When you add in the fact that
many of these devices come equipped with HDMI output, it’s easy to see that the Android platform may be positioning itself into the living room as well.
The portable game market has completely changed as well. Games for Android and iOS devices have become clear threats to companies like Nintendo and Sony, whose respective 3DS and PlayStation Vita handhelds will face increased competition from these platforms.
All of these changes seem to be indicative of the industry embracing and moving into a brand new direction.
But what exactly is this direction?

The truth of the matter is that no one, even the companies leading the charge for these “advances” in gaming, knows how to answer that question. Apple, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Valve and a whole host of other companies may have
stumbled into some great technology and ideas, but execution has and always
will be the key to success. In the early 90s, the video game industry experienced a similar multimedia boom, one that saw the market flooded with hardware and software. However, few people remember these multimedia consoles, supposedly immersive virtual reality headsets or the slew
of full-motion video games that seemed
to pop up on every system with a CD-ROM drive. Instead, most people remember playing games on their Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis.
Things are certainly different in today’s market. The technology has advanced to a point where multimedia and gaming capabilities in a system are respectable and of growing importance to consumers. The stage seems set for another market filled with do-it-all devices whose gaming aspects are but one of a vast array of features. It’s almost sad to see the point where games may no longer be the focus of these
consoles. We’ve been there before, and it wasn’t always a pretty picture.
For my sake, and for the sake of gamers everywhere, I hope that these companies don’t forget that we didn’t buy our Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis systems to watch movies or record TV shows; we simply wanted to enjoy the adventures of a blue hedgehog and a
heroic plumber.
The market may have changed, but that desire remains. Embracing new technology is wonderful, but I hope the industry doesn’t forget what made these systems so great in the first place.

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  • D

    DylanNov 3, 2011 at 3:35 am

    OK so first off I realize that this is an opinion piece and everyone is entitled to their opinion, however there are somethings I disagree with. The Xbox 360 is not a next-generation console. It hasn’t been for a long time, because the Xbox has been phased out for years. It’s current generation and even then, with the rumors circulating that the next generation will launch during the holiday 2013 or early 2014 season it can’t be called next-generation. Referring to the Xbox 360 as a next-generation console is wrong and misleading to the reader.
    On the topic of the Android and iOS devices threatening Nintendo’s choke hold on the portable gaming industry is a premature projection. While it’s true that the library for Android and iOS games have grown considerably they still have a long way to go before they can scare Nintendo. At one point for the IPhone 4 of the top 5 most downloaded games were different versions of Angry Birds. Nintendo hasn’t had handheld supremacy for more than a decade for no reason. They know how to cater to what customers want and even when it isn’t make it interesting so that they do want it. Something that mobile phone makers and software developers don’t have a lot of experience in when it comes to gamers.
    You also say that the lead developers and console manufacturers themselves don’t know this knew direction however they do. We saw it with the Playstation 3 when it initially released, there were people who bought it because it was a cheaper Blu ray player. With all the features of the new Xbox Live over the years who ever can make their console a more integrated part of the living room will have an edge during the next console war.
    Really it’s unlikely though that Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft will forget that the reason they have game consoles is to play games on them. Nintendo has been around for more than a century and the same was probably said when they made their first electronic game. It certainly was when they announced that they were going to market the Wii towards the casual audience. Now looking back at sales numbers the Wii is widely regarded as the winner of the console wars selling more consoles than either the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3.
    Now as I mentioned earlier everyone entitled to your opinion, but this is how I feel about the matter.