Hard­ware isn’t ev­ery­thing. What you need for real in­no­va­tion is new ideas, and that can just as eas­ily come with­out a big tech­no­log­i­cal leap as a cat­a­lyst. David Braben OBE, for one, be­lieves that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween new ideas and tech is one we’ve left be­hind us now. “There are new me­dia – cur­rently VR be­ing the most ob­vi­ous one, and AR too – where spe­cific games or play styles are en­abled (or at least aug­mented) by the hard­ware, but these are not the norm,” the Fron­tier founder and CEO tells us. “Most games are not closely tied to hard­ware now as they once were.”

Jean-francois Ma­jor, co-founder of Trib­ute Games, maker of Mer­ce­nary Kings and Flinthook, seems to agree. “The evo­lu­tion of games seems to be tied to what de­vel­op­ers can tin­ker with and the gamers’ ap­petite and de­sire to try new things,” he tells us. “Re­cent hard­ware in­no­va­tion did not bring us MOBAS, bat­tle royales, or even all those [in­sert bor­ing day-to-day ac­tiv­ity] sim­u­la­tors.”

Cer­tainly the big­gest break­out mo­ments of gam­ing in more re­cent mem­ory have been around genre or me­chan­ics rather than tech­ni­cal prow­ess. The hard­ware has been a base, but not nec­es­sar­ily a big de­cid­ing fac­tor when re­ally all we’re see­ing is in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments to per­for­mance. “Games have con­tin­ued to im­prove, en­abled by the hard­ware, but I wouldn’t say it is nec­es­sar­ily tied to hard­ware in­no­va­tion, in the same way I don’t think TV or film are tied to im­prove­ments in con­sumer hard­ware like 4K, 8K, 3D, HDR, Dolby

At­mos, 7.1 etc – even though it does im­prove the qual­ity, and might cre­ate some good mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Braben adds.

And some of the best ex­am­ples we’ve seen of real in­no­va­tion ven­ture way out­side the usual gen­res or me­chan­ics we ex­pect from games, as Ma­jor points out. “In­no­va­tion comes from these games you can’t put into any genre. Keep Talk­ing And No­body Ex­plodes comes to mind, or My Sum­mer Car (what is up with this game?!). These games are ven­tur­ing into un­known ter­ri­tory.”


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