Now that the rush is over and I’ve had a play with all of the consoles released over here (sadly that doesn’t include the PS3 however) I’m thinking ahead. One of the things that I usually don’t consider is what lies beyond the next batch of big releases. I, weirdly, have difficulty in thinking of games that I would like to play (in terms of concept ideas at least), which is also weird as I’m naturally creative. However, for this article I decided to have a really good think – over a nice cappuccino – on where I’d like the future of videogames to go.
Firstly, lets pick up on some of the obvious stuff. The Xbox360 is designed to be permanently connected to the Internet. This is obvious from the fact that it lacks an internal clock and some games give you a date on your unlocks, but only if you’re online at the time. It also means you can have your downloads in a queue, with stuff being sent to your console whilst your sleep.
This goes for the Wii and no doubt the PS3. So my estimate for the future in this department is that this will be an increasingly used feature, with all three nex-gen systems happily downloading and updating your content and games, and maybe even downloading stuff to compliment your current games roster. This is actually a feature I would quite like to see given how much I’ve enjoyed getting access to demos on Live.
Games on demand will become a more prominent service – whether this be games from an online rental store, games queued in a DDS (digital distribution service) such as Steam, games downloadable for trial and then buyable etc etc. I guess this means games will generally be more accessible for all, including the busy professional and the young mother who needs to get the latest game for her son or daughter.
Wireless is to be a huge feature in the future of videogames, as it already is in the present. Everything from wireless remotes, to motion sensing and even possibly power will be coming via wireless protocols. This will mean less clutter, and probably more synergy between devices. I remember when Sony was originally talking about the PS3, and the idea of other Sony devices (such as a TV or even a microwave) having a CELL processor.
The theory was then that they would use distributed computation to power games and applications. I would go so far as to speculate that this would become more and more commonplace in the future. Whilst at the moment with my 360 I can only send stuff from the computer or discs, sometime in the next 20 years there’ll be a console which will be able to ‘borrow’ the CPU of a desktop or laptop and use it to further enhance particular games.
One of the things that has disappointed me with the recent consoles is the lack of controller options. However, this might be changing with the future. I recall the original Xbox massive controller, which was quickly swapped out for the ‘S’ model for the European and Asian markets. It’s a novelty now to have an original. With the Wii of course you can have a classic controller, a GameCube controller or of course the Wiimote and nunchuk. All very good. To top that, you can now get a Wireless steering wheel for the 360 and probably a motion-sensing device in the future (come on, if Sony and Nintendo have one, Microsoft are bound to follow suit at some point).
Sandbox games have become more and more important as time has passed, and this is going to continue into the future. Stuff like GTA, Dead Rising and Saints Row will be eclipsed in the future by games which have a huge amount of freedom still, but with a much more realised world – giving even more interactivity and characterisation to the game. It goes without saying that Alan Wake could possibly be the first example of this so I’m quite looking forward to seeing that in action.
Graphics is of course the big one that is going to change over time. A couple of people I know are still talking about Virtual Reality and how that will be the next big leap in games, however I disagree. I was old enough to try VR when it first came out and saw a number of people who work sick – the motion they saw and the world they were in simply baffled their brain. So nope, I don’t think VR is the way to go. On the other hand, I believe that HD will become the norm (until super HD or whatever), there’ll be a couple of disc formats to offer more content (I won’t offer a winner here) but one will win out.
This will allow even more visual detail in games, though we’ll possibly find it difficult to produce something that’ll run it at first. In my opinion there’s less of a leap between the past generation and the nex-gen at the moment and this is a trend that is set to continue unless there’s a serious amount of time between them. To be honest, games look pretty good at the moment but naturally this is a boundary that’s going to be continually pushed until things look indistinguishable from real life.
So overall, what does the future of gaming look like? Well it’s online, beautiful looking and offering excellent controls. It has a variety of game types (as now) but with some brilliant freeform stuff that gives the player what he or she really wants – choice. We’ll wait longer for big releases, but in the meantime play smaller indie stuff. Wirelessly, we’ll order our dinner delivered in the middle of a game, and as it arrives pay with our ‘credits’. Game over man!