Anyone that knows me knows that I’ve been unfortunately busy with my life to seriously game anymore, but lately I have been feeling that I haven’t been missing much in the gaming world. I feel like gaming that I have known for the past decade is dead, and it's due to a number of factors. Some of the biggest factors that I thought about are innovation, the rise of sequels and ports, and the price hike on the new consoles as they come out. There's more to my theory than what I just mentioned, but I want to keep this portion quick and to the point. So, let's have at it, and get into this idea that I seem to have. The Lack of Innovation in the Current Generation Current game consoles don’t innovate half as much as they did in the days past. In the previous generation, we had features that we didn’t really know that much about. We had dual screens on the Nintendo DS, we had a relatively powerful console in the palm of our hand with the Playstation Portable, we had the interactive remote controller with the Wii, and the high definition gaming experience on the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. Personally, for me, that generation felt like the golden years of gaming. Games were continuing to come out on frequent bases and sold very well to their audiences. I was able to get involved in the majority of these consoles and enjoy them immensely for hundreds of hours of gameplay, back when I actually had the time to be able to be able to play a lot of games. And with the current generation of consoles that have rolled out… …gaming fell flat on its face for me. I felt little to no motivation to really go out and experience the consoles because they all felt the same to me. The Nintendo Wii U was a catastrophic disaster that shouldn’t have happened, instead hanging in suspended animation between mobile tablet platform and console. The Nintendo 3DS, which could let viewers play games in stereoscopic 3D, became a gimmick that ended up hurting players and forced Nintendo to release the Nintendo 2DS. The PS Vita was just a random, out of nowhere successor to the PSP that, despite its fancy features and beautiful OLED touchscreen module, fell short of its audiences. I picked one up the other day for fun after reading that article written by our Foxi4, But Foxi, Why Would I Want A PS Vita. Well, that and it was my birthday and I needed to treat myself to a bit of fun. The XBOX One rolled out and it just felt like an HD gaming machine. The Playstation 4 felt the same way. These consoles may have rolled out and sold like hotcakes to a big reception, but they lacked that certain “oomph” that the previous generations had. The way I feel right now about innovation is that the current generation that we are in just didn’t do that much innovating, instead focusing on adding more graphical power and processing power into a relatively nice looking package. It feels like the craze is to just go as hard as one could into the 4K viewing territory, which I personally have no real interest in. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really see the whole deal with HD gaming going into the super-realistic world that we seem to be moving towards right now. Things could keep going as they are, but the current generation felt like a minor jump in innovation when compared to previous generations. Innovation also seems to be failing video games, too. When thinking of video gaming innovation, the experience lately has fallen flat as well. Why? We have mobile gaming now that can offer some sort of competition to the big console games. Sure, we have huge titles like The Last of Us, The Elder Scrolls, and other exceptional titles that made a great effort and succeeded in creating a whole new idea, but more often than not games are just following the money and recycling the same concepts over and over again. Is Destiny of Spirits for the Playstation Vita doing anything exceptional? It looks pretty and all, but what good is the game when compared to mobile powerhouse giants like Puzzle and Dragons, which roll in millions of dollars of cash every single day? In addition to games lacking innovation, games seem to be recycling old material, following the money, and creating sequels or prequels, or in-betweens and ports that no one really wanted. Sequels and Ports – No, Please Not Another One! Modern gaming feels dead because a lot of games seem to just be repeats of older franchises. They also get ported over too many times on too many different platforms. Do I need to list all the different occasions in which Final Fantasy IV has been remade? And with each subsequent rerelease, the price barely goes down. And yet, we still buy them anyway because why the hell not?! Or, better yet, the sequel struggle that existed with Final Fantasy XIII? A game that communities felt deserved no more discussion, which ended up getting two sequels much to fans’ dismay. Do we really need more of that? Does that scream innovation? Or does this simply scream “lazy” to developers? When it comes to ports and sequels, we need to look no further than Square Enix. I once respected this team because they used to make fantastic games. We all have played Final Fantasy in one way or another. They’ve sold plenty of copies, but now it seems that they’re completely dead and rereleasing games onto their mobile platform, which seems to not be doing such a great job. Instead of creating another grand adventure, a proper swan song for an amazing franchise, they have graced us with an HD collection of Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, which was already in very-close-to-HD graphics to begin with. Come on! Create an HD remake or port over something that really matters. And speaking of ports… Ports are killing off games too. Looking at the library of games for the newest generation, they’re just rehashes of older material – sports games, sequels, or ports. Ninja Gaiden Sigma and Sigma II Plus for the Playstation Vita? Ported over from the original XBOX. Yeah, that big bulky black and green hunk. How about Street Fighter IV and its many rereleases, DLC, and ports? The Nintendo 3DS got a port of the game, the mobile got a port of the game, everyone has it. It just feels so damn lazy now that it’s not even fun anymore, and I don’t understand why people, me included, still throw their money at the developers for doing it. And they’re so expensive it’s a wonder why we’re crazy enough to do it. Which leads nicely into my next part of the discussion – pricing things properly to get more people into the game. Price – Why Would I Throw THAT Much For This?! Gaming is falling short because of pricing. It’s a dead zone. For machines that don’t really feel like they’re innovating or doing that much, besides adding extra processing and enhanced graphical experiences, they have extremely high price tags. I would personally love to pick up some next generation consoles, for the sake of having them, but I can’t quite justify yet, as a broke college student, dropping $500 on an XBOX One or $400 on the Playstation 4. Look at the Nintendo Wii U, it’s basically a Wii with a godawful looking tablet controller. And it’s like $300, with the controller being about $180. It’s ridiculous, and the point of entry on these systems is absolutely insane to think about when compared with the older generation… well, maybe not quite so much in the early days, but even so, the prices just felt much more reasonable. And my argument will quickly fall apart when people realize that I’m typing this on an Apple MacBook Pro, which to some people makes me the lowest swine of this Earth. I don’t care, I’m totally proud of it. Let’s cut things short here and move onto the next section. Games lately don’t seem to be complete anymore. The Plague of DLC and Microtransactions Remember the old days in which we used to be able to buy a game, and take it home, open it up right away, and have access to the full game content from right off the bat? Those days seem to be long dead as more and more games require some kind of payment to unlock more content and goodies, things that should be a given. Like, costumes or stages. I said above that I purchased a Playstation Vita. Having looked at the Playstation Network store, a lot of games that I looked into have different charges to access, things like $1.99 payments for costumes or stage music. The little things that don’t really matter, but at the same time, prevent the disk from feeling like a “full package.” I find it silly that these things now have a money value attached to them, instead of completing an objective in game to unlock it. Games are slowly becoming more payment heavy, and with some games charging egregious prices (I’m looking at you Theatrhythm Final Fantasy) they end up costing more than the game itself. I think all the songs cost more than the game itself... I’m all for content, but I’m against it being a requirement for players to pay money towards. Even though I will more than likely buy it anyway. Games are becoming quite expensive as each new console rolls out, and some of these content updates are absolutely absurd to have to pay for. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t want to buy fighting games anymore, because, as Dead or Alive or Street Fighter IV have shown, they get rereleased with an Ultimate pack or some kind of DLC upgrade. By forcing us to have to purchase these amenities that should have been provided from the start, gaming itself has become a medium that’s too money focused and with no real heart left to give to the players. And for us players, we really like to see showcases of our games at those big conventions like E3, which have faded in interest throughout the years. Big Gaming Conventions Are a Thing of the Past It seems that with each passing year, despite overwhelming numbers at each gaming convention, the overall interest just seems to be declining in favor of using social mediums to reach out to the gamer base. With teams like Nintendo opting to use their Nintendo Direct medium as a way to tell players about their latest trends, gaming convention interests have died out and as a result, I feel like it is really hurting the industry. In the line of work that I pursue, face-to-face contact is vitally important in getting the message out to people, and hiding behind a screen just doesn’t do justice to the big hype trains that gaming conventions used to be. Remember the announcement of Twilight Princess? I haven’t seen an announcement that crazy in quite some time. Here’s a little bit of nostalgia for you guys. Don’t you miss that already? What happened to those?! With the waning interest of gaming conventions, gaming itself is becoming less and less interesting. The developers of such titles really need to pack an oomph factor to get us interested in what the have to offer. Developers – You Need to Focus on US! We fans wanted two sequels of the worst game ever, right? We act with our wallets. It’s no surprise there. We see games getting cancelled due to lack of funds or interest, or not being released in the West because of a poor sales factor for their audience. Gaming really is too focused on money nowadays that it’s a bit sad to see game quality drop in such a way. When we see our favorite titles ending up as a digital only feature, some of us hate it because we wanted the real thing in our hand as a memento of what it took to get the title. And digital only kills resale, which some of us may like to do so that we can give back in a sense to another person. And speaking of digital… we see the PC starting to really have a huge foothold in our gaming sights. PC Gaming and Mobile Gaming Man, PC gaming? I don’t really have a lot of authority here in the matter, as I have a Mac, and a lot of people love saying that Macs are not capable of gaming, but oh well. From what I do know, though, and from what I have observed, I feel that gaming is dying, or heading in a bad direction, with the rise of computer and mobile gaming. It’s cheaper to upgrade a PC component most of the time than it is to upgrade an entire console and paying the premiums to keep the console going (Like those Vita memory cards!). Mobile gaming is short, sweet, and to the point and with so many people getting into smartphones, the overall gaming quality has dropped since then. This game took in $50,000 every day. Even though I’m a huge fan of mobile gaming and being able to play in short bursts on the go, I feel like it’s more effective and at the same time it kills gaming because people can take shortcuts, hopefully create a one hit wonder, and make huge money off of that. Look at Flappy Bird,where the creator rolled in around $50,000 a day off of the game. Is this where gaming is going to go for the next several years? More towards mobile? Geez, Windbag, I’m Bored! When Will You Finish? I sound like a broken record now, don’t I? I can be declared certifiably insane after this piece, right? But I truly feel this way. I can’t attach to gaming anymore like I used to. Do I have occasional splurges where I play for hours on end? Yeah. Nowadays, I can’t play for more than half an hour a week without losing interest in gaming. While you might say that I’m growing up and taking a priority to my own personal responsibilities, I’m still young at heart and I love doing these things, and would love to continue to do so, but gaming just isn’t that interesting anymore because of the path it is taking – expensive consoles, lack of innovation, too many sequels and ports, downloadable content, micro transactions, developers taking too little time to really interact with their audience, and the mobile and PC gaming platform taking heavy footholds in the gaming industry. I want to see gaming change and I want to see it go back to the days of old where things were worth hyping over. Do let me know what you think about my theory in the comments below!