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Campuzano: Gaming needs a Steve Jobs

At long last, we know the name of every one of the big three, next-generation video game consoles — WiiU, Playstation 4 and, after an event in Redmond, Wash., one week ago, Xbox One.

What will follow for the next five or six months is speculation after speculation regarding what the latter two unreleased consoles are capable of and, I’m sure, a steady stream of denigrating remarks aimed toward Nintendo’s underpowered machine.

But I don’t care about any of that. Why? Because I’m sitting out this console generation.

If there’s anything I gleaned from Sony’s and Microsoft’s presentations, it’s that the next Playstation and Xbox will stress fancier visuals and a greater breadth of social sharing. Not much on the gameplay front. Sure, Remedy Games revealed “Quantum Break” for the new Xbox, a title the company boasts is a mix of traditional gameplay and live-action footage, but we should all be past the point where a flashy, prerendered video is enough to convince us a game is worth playing.

As gamers, we need to be smarter. We need to demand more of developers. And, we need to reassess what we desire from the media we shell out hundreds of dollars for the mere ability to experience — not to mention the $60 we pay for every individual piece of software.

What rubs me the wrong way about AAA games these days is they’re mired in tired and unsustainable development practices threatening to upend a hobby I’ve held dear for more than 20 years.

When Capcom announces new entries in titles such as its “Resident Evil” franchise, it boasts of development teams that employ more than 200 people. At the same time, mass layoffs and closures plague plenty of other developers, with Capcom itself finding it difficult to do much more than rehash old properties with tried and true gameplay formulas, innovation be damned (I’m still furious about the cancellation of “Mega Man Legends 3”).

Do we really want nothing from big-budget games built on the backs of overworked designers to which companies overcharge us for? The sales figures for such blockbusters as “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” — $1 billion in 15 days — certainly say so.

Nintendo, much as the Kyoto-based company tries to differentiate itself, makes many of the same mistakes. Interviews with folks who are hard at work on the next “Zelda” title also brag about how the next game is the biggest and best yet — all the while implementing business strategies alienating third-party developers and introducing online capabilities that were standardized back in 2006.

What we need is a console built by a company that doesn’t just understand the dire economic landscape of game development — everyone knows the system is in trouble — but one focusing on architecture conducive to original gameplay first and has a firm grasp on the ways in which people consume media, not just games.

Console gaming has long had a Walt Disney-esque figure in Shigeru Miyamoto. What it needs now is a Steve Jobs.

Or maybe we just let the consoles’ race end with this generation, allowing specialized PC builds to take over our living rooms. Either way, I’m finding it harder and harder to shell out more cash for another bland box that’ll sit under my TV.


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Eder Campuzano

Eder Campuzano

Eder is the Emerald's director of audience engagement. His work has appeared in The Oregonian, The Statesman Journal and the News-Register in McMinnville. He was also a founding member of the University of Oregon's competitive Pokémon league.