Thursday, May 26, 2016

Money for (Almost) Nothing

News in the video game industry hasn't been terribly exciting these last two weeks, and I needed something provocative to motivate me to update my blog. I think I just found it. Here's what Wired editor Chris Kohler has to say about the future of the video game industry in his latest article:

"Soon you'll buy consoles the way you upgrade phones."

No we won't. No, we won't. Look, we've been through this before. Sega thought incremental updates were justified twenty years ago, releasing the Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn within two years of each other, and it sunk them as a console manufacturer. Stopgap hardware is even less appealing when you consider the diminishing returns that have resulted from two decades of technological advancement. The difference in visual quality between current gen and last gen games can be measured in pixels, as illustrated by this comparison between the five versions of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Image from YouTube
I'm sorry, but I can't convince myself to buy a new game console when all I'll get for my three hundred dollars is a sharper jacket patch. And what will the upcoming Playstation 4K and Xbox Scorpio give me? Support for ultra high definition televisions and virtual reality headsets? Fuck, if I can't afford those two systems (or the last two systems), I sure as hell won't have the money for an $800 TV set, or a $600 gadget that's destined to find itself buried in a closet along with all the other trendy but quickly forgotten tech junk from the last ten years.

Game companies can't even turn a profit on AAA releases like Street Fighter V. Now they're expecting to make money on exorbitantly priced hardware during a modest economic turnaround, with their target audience buried in college debt and fighting tooth and claw for work? Riiiight. And they say video game players are divorced from reality.

Special thanks to Twitter user Shake_Well for alerting me to this news. I mean, I'm not happy about it, but as they say, a friend is someone who warns you.

Let's end this on a more pleasant note. There's a Super Sale on Xbox Live right now... if you're still clinging to the Xbox 360 as I am, you can get dozens of its games at a drastic discount. If you're a Gold member, the prices are even better... you can get the Devil May Cry remake for a good four dollars less if you've subscribed to Microsoft's premium service.


  1. Can't say I disagree with anything you say here, Jess. Although I like some parts of what's seemingly in the works right now -- Nintendo producing console and portable hardware that plays the same games comes to mind -- a lot of it sounds immensely stupid. It's almost as if some of these companies *want* to go out of business. Oh, well, maybe it would be better for me and my bank account if they did...

    1. If you want more proof that game companies never learn from their past mistakes, here's a doozy:

      From the article:

      "For almost a year, the company is silently working on a tiny Xbox (commonly referred as Xbox Mini), which allows the gamer to play lightweight games"

      Didn't Sony just try this two years ago? I'm pretty sure they did, because Wal-Mart's been trying to unload the Playstation TVs that nobody wanted.