Big Pic­ture Mode

In­dus­try is­sues given the widescreen treat­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy edi­tor, and is busily sorting his games, records and wardrobe into au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal or­der

Dig­i­tal dis­cov­er­abil­ity is get­ting worse, says Nathan Brown

My wife is an ex­cel­lent packer. Ed­u­cated at board­ing school from the age of eight, she is a mas­ter of the art of fit­ting a lot of stuff into a small space, the con­se­quence of hav­ing to load up a trunk at the start and end of ev­ery school term for a decade. There’s a lovely rit­ual to the way she packs a case. Noth­ing goes in un­til ev­ery­thing is ready, her clothes rolled up, small things stuffed into big­ger things. Then she stands back, takes in the sit­u­a­tion, and em­barks on what is best de­scribed as a

Tetris speedrun. As an on­looker, you un­der­stand what’s go­ing on, but could never do it your­self, that mix of speed and pre­ci­sion, an­tic­i­pa­tion and re­ac­tion, with ev­ery­thing slot­ting per­fectly into place.

I am, at least, bet­ter than I used to be – plus, the air­line in­dus­try’s in­creas­ingly strin­gent lug­gage weight lim­its mean I rarely find my­self in the sit­u­a­tion where I need to fit a lot of stuff in one case. But carry-on lug­gage is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. As a child, I went on a fam­ily hol­i­day with a bag packed at the last minute that con­tained only a Game Boy with no spare bat­ter­ies and eight back is­sues of Mean Ma­chines. Th­ese days, I start think­ing about my hand lug­gage days in ad­vance; de­vices need charg­ing, updating, fill­ing with the lat­est games, movies and mu­sic. Last week, I got on a plane with a fully charged iPhone, iPad, 3DS and Vita. The flight time was an hour and 20 min­utes.

I spent prob­a­bly dou­ble that brows­ing the var­i­ous down­load stores look­ing for new games, and it slowly dawned on me that I am start­ing to hate vis­it­ing al­most ev­ery one. De­vel­op­ers, biz guys and play­ers have all been com­plain­ing about dig­i­tal dis­tri­bu­tion’s dis­cov­ery prob­lem for years, but things aren’t get­ting any bet­ter. They’re get­ting worse.

I went first to the App Store – per­haps the most im­por­tant part of my prepa­ra­tions, given that Puz­zle & Dragons can only be played with an In­ter­net con­nec­tion. Even when I man­aged to look past the seem­ingly end­less pro­ces­sion of end­less run­ners, Candy

Crush ripoffs and F2P games aimed at chil­dren, the en­tire App Store game cat­a­logue felt monotonously de­fined by best-prac­tice con­sen­sus. Icons are mostly cutesy, some­times stylish, but al­ways non­de­script; game names are unin­spir­ingly fac­tual; screen­shots are clut­tered with text. Ev­ery­thing just con­geals into one unin­spir­ing whole. I left, as al­ways, empty-handed.

On Vita, things are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, be­cause I’m not look­ing for new games to buy. Thanks to monthly PlaySta­tion Plus free­bies, I al­ready have plenty to play. They just need down­load­ing. It’s a sim­ple process in the­ory, but in prac­tice means a tor­tu­ous scroll through the dreaded Down­load List, which con­tains ev­ery game I have ever pur­chased on Vita, PS3 and PS4, and any as­so­ci­ated DLC. There are, at the time of writ­ing, 536 items on my Down­load List. One of the top­most is a game called 1,000 Tiny

Claws, which Sony be­lieves I down­loaded on Jan­uary 18, 2015. It was a PS Plus free­bie in Oc­to­ber 2011 and I have never played it.

It’s not just a prob­lem when I’m pre­par­ing for a trip, ei­ther. At home, PS4 and Xbox One sport dis­mally ar­ranged store­fronts and dash­boards. Steam does things bet­ter than most, but it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly un­wieldy, too. Valve has pretty much opened the flood­gates to new re­leases in the past year or so, but even once you get be­yond the front page and load up your li­brary, there is al­most too much to han­dle. I scrolled about aim­lessly look­ing for lo­cal mul­ti­player games when I had com­pany last month, and found my­self paral­ysed with choice for a game to put my new graph­ics card through its paces. When you can’t even sort through your own games, you know you’ve re­ally got a prob­lem.

I have helped out with the mu­sic at two friends’ wed­dings. The first had turnta­bles, CD play­ers, a mixer, and in­volved an af­ter­noon of prepa­ra­tion, sorting through shelves of cat­a­logued phys­i­cal me­dia, my record bag full to burst­ing with care­fully cho­sen cuts. The sec­ond saw the role of DJ del­e­gated to a lap­top with Spo­tify, a hand­ful of us tak­ing turns to cue up some mu­sic. Here’s a de­cent chunk of the en­tire his­tory of recorded mu­sic – could you put on a few tunes? Ter­ri­fy­ing stuff, but it’s pre­cisely where games are head­ing. Those dig­i­tal store shelves, and our vir­tual book­shelves, are only go­ing to get big­ger, and un­less sell­ers get bet­ter at pre­sent­ing their wares, some great stuff is go­ing to slip through the cracks. Af­ter all, not even my wife could pack a suit­case with ev­ery item of cloth­ing she’s ever owned.

Un­less sell­ers get bet­ter at pre­sent­ing their wares, some great stuff is go­ing to slip through the cracks

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