Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's The Controls, Stupid

In my humble opinion, Sony did an average to good job with their Playstation 4 press conference today. I was impressed with some things that they featured, while there were also things that felt more of the same. But I didn't think they did a terrible job. I do believe they may be saving most of their information for E3 2013. A lot of what they showed were games and tech demos, but notably the console itself was not present at the event.

My wife and I were talking about this and for both of us it was a pretty big deal that they didn't show the console. I was primarily impressed with the video recording/streaming features....a lot of people play online to an audience via UStream, and the new PS4 will make it a lot easier for them to do that. It was impressive on a technological level....to have it rendering a game with all the effects and at the same time have it record your gameplay. I have a feeling this will also be the way they will stream gameplay to the PSVita if you plan on playing remotely.

That said, I want to react to the mostly negative reaction from the mainstream press:
http://neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=48023207&postcount=1

I know that IOS and Android are all the rage right now (You could probably read that like that character on Zoolander---you know that guy that says 'Magnum is like, so hot right now!') . Games on those platforms are free, or cheap. You can play them anywhere. And there are arguments that they look "as good, if not better than their console counterparts".

Ok, yeah. I do like Angry Birds. I do like Temple Run 2. I like a lot of mobile games. But do I think they should replace console and PC game experiences? Hell, no.

What is going to happen if consoles die out because of bad press like this? Have you ever tried to spend an extended amount of time with a mobile game? Honestly, they do not feel like experiences you want to go through for more than five minutes. Is this the future of gaming?

That is just disastrous for the industry if you ask me. The video game industry has been through a crash before, precisely because the industry churned out a lot of games just like 'Angry Birds' in the past. Quick distractions that didn't have depth. I don't mean to bash mobile games in any way, I really don't. But to suggest that that's where we are all headed with gaming is really crazy. These people who make these statements aren't even gamers. They're the hipsters at parties who show off their new gadgets but don't even know how to root them. It would be sad if everyone took what they had to say at face value.

There is room in the world for casual games. But I pray that won't be the end of gaming as we know it now.

What would we do if massive role playing games like Final Fantasy were never to be made again because stockholders don't find it cool to support companies that make them?

Imagine a world with no Halo, or Killzone, or Super Mario Brothers---hell, even with Mario's simple gameplay there's a lot more imagination to its levels than the hundreds of levels in an Angry Birds title.

The sad thing is that these mainstream journalists don't know what they're talking about when they bash the consoles of today like the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, the Wii U.....they don't represent the industry or the customers of that industry. They just follow what's the trend but they don't understand the market that is served by those systems. IOS and Android are surely changing the face of the tech world, and that can't be denied. But there is one thing they will never offer that bigger dedicated machines always will.

Controls.

It's the controls, stupid. Have they ever TRIED to play an FPS on a phone? The graphics may get better with each new phone model, but the gameplay on a phone is always next to impossible to enjoy on a deeper level. Everything is a swipe or a click; there's no meaningful way to control your in-game avatar, and that's why everything is on rails on mobile.

That won't ever change, if you look at the trend with mobile phones. Buttons aren't exactly 'hot right now'.

But the ones who play games on phones, I don't think you can expect them to even take games seriously.

There are people who take games seriously. Like me. And several million gamers around the world. We aren't going to settle for phones. And I don't think we will disappear anytime soon.

So my hope is that games on 'hardcore' systems will survive, and that companies like MS, Sony and Nintendo will press on. I think we all know something that the mainstream just can't understand. Controls on dedicated systems will always make them superior to mobile phones in terms of providing meaningful and immersive gameplay experiences.