Edge readers share their opinions; one wins a New Nintendo 3DS XL
Through the decades, I’ve been privileged enough to see a lot of improvements in the field of gaming. I’ve seen graphics improve markedly; sound is now as good as you could possibly want it to be; storage has increased to the point where it’s practically not an issue; and controllers don’t fall apart in your hands every second week like they used to. I mean, there have been a lot of changes, and quite a few big leaps since the day I first savagely tore apart the Christmas wrapping to reveal the brandnew Atari 2600 which kept my eyes glued to the screen for a good few years.
We’ve seen steady progression now for some three-and-a-half decades but this next leap, virtual reality, I think is going to be the biggest leap of all. In fact, it won’t be just within gaming: before too long, I think we’ll find going to the office will simply be a matter of strapping on our headgear, pressing a couple of buttons, and bingo – no longer will we need to be exposed to the usual workplace chaos, cigarette stench and countless traffic jams. We won’t need to think about travelling to places like Disneyland. Meeting people – dating, for instance – will become a wild new experience. And being able to travel virtually to places overseas, other planets… It goes on and on – the possibilities are endless.
I think we are on the verge of a change of Star Trek-like proportions. Considering what has been happening in the world of quantum physics and the increasingly real possibility of particle teleportation, it won’t be too long before we’re no longer making fun of Doctor Who and his TARDIS, but rejoicing in the fact that he was a pioneering, revolutionary figure.
I’ve yet to get a single prediction wrong in terms of the gaming and technological world, so this is just a gentle forewarning to your readers, and the public in general, that we are in, undoubtedly, for quite a ride. The Lawnmower Man was rubbish in comparison to what’s really going to happen. Robert Roemer
To be fair, The Lawnmower Man was rubbish when it was made in 1992, so that may not be the best point of comparison. If you’re saying we don’t have to come into the office any more, though, sign us up.
State of independents
I’d like to question the belief that, within the videogame industry, indie developers are more innovative than their triple-A counterparts. The majority of indie games are derivative and unoriginal, and it’s only by the sheer volume produced that interesting or unusual outliers crop up more frequently. Moreover, as an indie developer myself, I feel strongly that we need to be better at talking about and tackling the barriers to innovation: validating and fine-tuning mechanics, teaching new players unfamiliar concepts, and finding an audience where none existed before. All are that much harder when a game veers away from genre conventions. Never mind when developers try to do something wholly original.
Equally, we need to gently nudge indies away from nostalgia trips, worn-out tropes, and the same old medieval-fantasy or space settings. Triple-A games can also play a part in inspiring indies to explore cultures and places that are rarely discussed in other media. Or less well-known periods in history, such as with the fantastic Empire: Total War shining a light on the rise of 18th-century economics and geopolitics.
From my own experience, and talking to other indies, I know it’s not a lack of desire. But with the twin pressures of perceived industry wisdom and the very real financial
“Triple-A games can help inspire indies to explore cultures and places that are rarely discussed”
pressures most indies face, it’s often the ‘safe’ route that gets picked.
Let’s continue to celebrate success and learn from failures, but also be unafraid to turn a critical eye on the indie-game movement and discuss what it can do to improve itself. James Coote
A quick scroll through the swollen Edge inbox confirms that, yes, there’s an awful lot of me-too dreck among the indie successes. If you have something daringly original to show us, though, we’ll always give it a shot.
Fight this generation
As an enthusiastic gamer, I am worried about the future of game consoles. I am worried about all this new talk about mid-generation hardware updates that do not seem to benefit the end user. However, the thing I am most worried about is my gut, which tells me that laziness is approaching.
Sony and Microsoft announced the beginning of a new era with their mid-gen hardware refreshes. Soon all they talk about is these shenanigans about 4K, HDR, more CPU and GPU power and teraflops, a word previously known only to PC gamers. But what does it mean for us, the players?
Excuses. To me, looking at the way the game industry works nowadays, I sense that users with the original systems will suffer and be forced to upgrade their hardware. If there is anything that the New 3DS taught us, it’s that exclusive games hurt system sales more than anything else. However, it also taught us about Hyrule Warriors syndrome, where the game runs perfectly on the new hardware but fails to deliver a consistent experience on the old one. I am no Michael Pachter, but I am confident enough in this to say that developers will come up with all sorts of excuses to explain the lack of optimisation for the old hardware, the most common one being that “the hardware is not powerful enough”. In an era where quality control allows the release of atrocious and incomplete games to the market, I can only imagine all those Assassin’s Creeds with framerates far below 30fps glitching out every second if you’re playing on the launch version of the hardware.
I hope I am wrong but this risks setting a precedent by giving creators the power to not deliver the same experience to both types of user. Developers were used to squeezing every single bit of juice out of those machines in order to amaze and deliver something solid to gamers all over the world. As time passed and firstparties released new tools to developers, games would still look great. Just look at GTAV on the PS3, a tenyear-old console! For me, it is hard to believe developers will put in the same amount of effort with two types of hardware available. It is hard to believe they will come up with inventive ways to circumvent problems such as lack of power. I still remember when streaming textures was one of the most successful ways to bypass console limitations in the previous generation, or the fact that
Mario developers copy/pasted textures, adding a different colour to them, in order to save system memory.
Just ask yourself this question: would you squeeze two oranges the same way you would if you only had one? Bruno Sirgado
The prospect of PS4 Pro gave us pause, too. But then we saw the enhanced version of
Horizon Zero Dawn and sort of melted. It is a particularly squeezable-looking orange.
I guess the rubbish statues, and $2 worth of plastic tat, just aren’t doing the numbers any more. The videogame special edition is getting thoroughly out of hand. It’s always been a hard sell, I think – games cost enough as it is, and it’s going to take something special to get your audience to cough up even more. And as time passes and more people have seen what’s inside these ludicrously large retail boxes (they’re large enough to fit a console in, for heaven’s sake), that hard sell just gets even harder. Oh, if I pay £90 for COD I can have my own drone? Well, a few years back I got my own COD RC car. It was dead within a week and didn’t even manage to take any terrorists with it.
So, realising the physical realm has little left with which to entice the lover and savvy purchaser of videogames, publishers are trying something different. For years, online retailers have curried favour with potential customers by building a reputation for getting a new game on to your doormat a few days before official release. It works. Lo and behold, Microsoft comes up with the Forza
Horizon 3 Ultimate Edition, a digital-only bundle costing £80 that will give me access to the game four days before the hoi polloi. This is a natural extension of the way EA Access gives you ten hours with a game a week before release, which I assume has made them quite a bit of money. But it does mean that these massive companies’ vision for the future of videogame distribution is basically just the digital equivalent of being pretty good at getting the post sent out.
Oh, so early access doesn’t do it for you? Fine! How about exclusive access? Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, sir? Available only with the special editions of
Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare? Nothing warms the cockles like a bit of aggressively monetised nostalgia, eh?
No, thanks. If I’m nostalgic for anything it’s the days when special editions meant getting a load of cheaply produced plastic tat alongside a game I wanted. Now it means getting a different game, made with a budget of tens of millions of dollars. If the stakes are really that high, no wonder they’re getting desperate. Wake me when it’s over, please. Andrew Moore
You’re probably going to be asleep for a while, judging by the number of people on our friends list playing Forza before its release. Happily, your New 3DS comes with no extras, and hasn’t cost you a penny.