What the next generation of video games needs to succeed

playstation 4 controller

Clifford Unchained – 4th and Inches for Sony

My biggest thing about this “Next Next Gen” is that the biggest winner will be the one who has several things going for them:

  • The games. It’s all about the games.
  • The ecosystem. Apple knows that Itunes and the App store are a HUGE factor in their success.
  • The ability to remain adaptable in a fast moving world. Fast title updates from developers. The “Minecraft test.” If the hardware is great and the system sound then the biggest deciding factor will be how much each console creator allows the community to take over in an organic fashion. It sounds like the Sharing feature is a great step. The next one? Indie games, mods, user levels…you know, the things that the PC is so darned good at.

This is exactly how the next generation console war will be won. Consoles can no longer rely solely on their first and third party games to “win the war.” Robust game libraries are a must, of course, but they must be combined with robust media ecosystems and more PC-like interaction models. Sony is certainly attempting to do this with the PlayStation 4.

Take the Xbox 360, which has remained the best selling console on a month-to-month basis for well over a year now. The Xbox is more than just a game console. It is a brand associated with media, from music to movies to games. Games and the operating system are updated on a frequent basis, in a fashion not so dissimilar from the PC updates consumers have come to expect. As a result of this evolution of the Xbox, Microsoft stands on a much stronger foundation than its competitors moving into the next generation.

Cliff Bleszinski on microtransactions

Clifford Unchained – Nickels, dimes, and quarters.

If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple. EA has many smart people working for them (Hi, Frank, JR, and Patrick!) and they wouldn’t attempt these things if they didn’t work. Turns out, they do. I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behavior over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash.

If you’re currently raging about this on GAF, or on the IGN forums, or on Gamespot, guess what? You’re the vocal minority. Your average guy that buys just Madden and GTA every year doesn’t know, nor does he care. He has no problem throwing a few bucks more at a game because, hey, why not?

I’ve been making this very argument in support of free-to-play games and microtransactions from the very beginning. The proliferation of free-to-play games, post-release DLC and microtransactions across a wide swath of genres and franchises isn’t just a coincidence. This proliferation occurred because the model works.

Free-to-play games aren’t free-to-make. If gamers want  more quality free-to-play titles like League of Legends and Team Fortress 2, some gamers will have to ultimately dole out cash to ensure that happens.

Cliff Bleszinski on the problem with making video game sequels

Clifford Unchained – The Problem with Sequels:

But if you give the hardcore what they claim to want then the press respond “It’s just Game 1.5”

And then if you change it too much the hardcore will claim “you ruined it!” while the press might just give you accolades for a bold, fresh take.

That, my friends, is the sequel conundrum. 

It’s a lose-lose situation. Lots of young and nerdy creative types for the last decade or so have looked at video games and thought, “Yeah, I could make these for a living.”

In reality, it turns out that even dream jobs have their downsides. In the case of game designers, it’s that the balance that has to be found between making the game you want to play and the game the hardcore fans want and the game the press want to see.