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Schucht: The death of video game consoles

It’s always been a mystery to parents why the newest Nintendo whatever or other video game console was a necessity to obtain. “This one has better graphics and better games” we plead. Naive parents would say, “Well, why can’t you play the new games on your old console?”

Because that’s not how it works.

That’s how the video game industry was five years ago, a new console meant bigger and better games. While that is sort of true right now, it definitely won’t be in the coming years. The current regime of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft consoles will be broken by new comers like Valve’s Steam box. The current strategy of Microsoft and Sony is to market their respective console as an all in one entertainment device. It’s not just about games, but also TV, music and movies.

No one would buy a PlayStation to watch Netflix. It’s a nice feature, but not a seller. But, why would someone want to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One? The way that the industry worked in the past was that about every five years the next generation would be released on store shelves and replace the current one.

Technology would have progressed to a point where more powerful machines were possible. Better graphics and faster loading screens enticed customers to drop a couple hundred bucks to play the newest Mario or Halo game. This generation is without a doubt more powerful than the last, but how important is that power?

It’s easy to tell the difference between a PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 game, but it’s difficult to do so with the current consoles and their predecessors. There’s a limit to how spectacular the graphics can be, or at least, a limit to how much of a consoles power a game developer is willing to utilize.

The Order, a game for PS4 has the best graphics I’ve ever seen (not on a PC of course). The reason we don’t see more games with this type of beauty is that it’s unnecessary. It’s more practical to focus on decent graphics and gameplay then make a Mona Lisa. More power doesn’t mean better games, and that is something this generation has forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good games, but most of them are the Wii-U.

The Nintendo Wii was able to grasp the attention of casual gamers with its simplicity but as mobile gaming on smart phones has skyrocketed, this is a market that can’t be tapped the same way. This is why the Wii-U is struggling, as it’s was an attempted at Hybrid between hardcore and soft-core game. A means of holding on to the past while branching out into the future.

If it wasn’t for the top notch games Nintendo crafts, it’s doubtful it would have sold at all. For only Nintendo knows how to make games for a Nintendo platform. This market strategy will keep Nintendo going, but there’s a reason why Wii-U sales are slow and now where close to the Wii’s. This explains why the company recently announced a move toward mobile gaming and to start building games for that platform.

So if Smart phones are the future of casual gaming, then Valves Steam box is the future of hardcore. Steam is essentially the iTunes of video games. This consoles allows for people to play all the online games available on steam on your TV screen. Now something similar to this came out a few years ago that no one has talked about since, the Ouya. This console ran on a similar principle but instead of computer games, it was mobile. Now why the Ouya failed (like most consoles) is because of the lack of killer apps. There weren’t a lot of games that people wanted to play. Steam already has a lot of games that people are playing and if they can lock down an exclusive to launch with (please let it be half-life three) then it will be very successful.

For those nongamers out there, this may be a lot to take in. To sum things up, I believe the Steam Box will be a major hit and drastically affect the video game market. The compaction hasn’t created a real draw for their new platforms and have struggled because the ability for machines to create better graphics has a limit. You can only make graphics look so good. Because of this, Sony and Microsoft need to focus on unique and quality games. There are some good tittles out there like Bloodborne, but there needs to be more if they want to combat the upcoming threat that is Valve.

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Eric Schucht

Eric Schucht

Eric is a videographer for The Emerald. A journalism major at the University of Oregon, Eric spends his free time failing at parallel parking and searching for the lost television remote.