With the next console generation rapidly approaching, the internet is ablaze with arguments about which system has the bigger digital sausage. Frankly, though, I’ve become quite apathetic and uninterested about the “next-generation”.
I’m just not convinced that newer, faster and more “incredible” consoles are what we need for better games. Because really, better games is what we’re aiming for here, right? It is what we’re making these new consoles for… right?
Maybe not. Maybe we’ve turned into an industry that’s forgotten we’re not about the technology, we’re about the fun. David Cage certainly has forgotten this: remember this year’s Sony Conference where he said his most desired next-gen feature was “emotion”?
Now this would have been an inspiring speech if Cage hadn’t confused “emotion” for “technology to make expressions really realistic”. This is an attitude that AAA is struggling to overcome: we don’t really need better technology anymore – frankly, that’s an old problem. What we really need in modern games, is better game design.
Look, there’s clearly still a market for bigger and better. The GTA series is king of bigger and prettier each iteration, and surely 29 million sales can’t be wrong? Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I get the feeling many are tiring of this trend – most apparently so with the Call of Duty series, which just from anecdotal experience seems to be leaving people bored and feeling like they played pretty much the same game as the previous year. Maybe one day the same will happen to GTA? Perhaps – but, probably not.
Here’s where Cookie Clicker comes in. Go play it for just 5 minutes – it’s free.
So how many hours of your life did you just lose? I lost three the first time I played it. It’s simple, fun, addictive, and doesn’t need über amounts of technology to create an emotional bond between you, the number of cookies you create, and of course, your amassed army of grannies. So maybe we don’t need huge, massive set-pieces, or open worlds to have fun – and maybe we’ve forgotten that.
If you’re torn between getting an Xbox One, a Ps4, or a new gaming PC this year, perhaps consider a cheaper option: don’t get anything. Instead, go out and find the cheapest, weirdest games you can on the internet. The ones that make you laugh or almost get you fired (Cookie Clicker again). I started doing this in 2012 – I’ve only bought two fully priced AAA games since then – the rest of the games I’ve played have been acquired through Humble Bundles and Steam Sales (which still includes a lot of AAA games).
If even that’s too much effort, go look at the games on freeindiegam.es – play just five games. Hopefully they’ll show you the massive potential for games without needing hugemongous and expensive boxes of technology. We don’t need bigger or prettier consoles – we just need better and more elegant games, and that’s happening already without the R6000+ consoles or R10,000+ gaming PCs. Even if you’re not convinced by Cookie Clicker’s amazingness, there are other games to consider, like Surgeon Simulator, Slender, and, our own locally developed Viscera Cleanup Detail. I mean, around five million people play the F2P MOBAs Dota 2 and LoL each month. Neither of these games require high end technology – I play Dota 2 on my three year old non-gaming laptop (Yeah, well, you know, maybe if you had a brand new PC, you’d be able to play the latest Call of Battlefield VI: Bang Bang Gibspocalypse instead. – FemShepEd).
So what am I suggesting here? Well, you’re the consumer. You have the power – recognise you don’t need overpriced and specialised tools to play great games. Maybe then we’ll get better designed games, rather than just prettier, bigger ones.
Save your money – play good games.