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Thread: The Last Console Generation?

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    The Last Console Generation?

    With the ambience of this year's E3 trade show still hanging in the air (I guess), I figured this a good time to discuss video games. Namely the future of video games as a medium.

    Here's what I want to pose to everyone today (but especially to @The Xl and @Ethereal): as of this year, there are now more people playing video games through increasingly Netflix-like subscription services than through traditional direct-purchasing models like buying physical or digital copies of games. Other entertainment mediums like music and TV have undergone an analogous transformation over the last decade, though gaming has taken a bit longer owing to a stronger ownership culture that has persisted around this particular medium. Trump's elimination of net neutrality will probably also slow momentum toward subscription/cloud-based gaming for obvious reasons, ensuring the ongoing viability of at least semi-traditional gaming consoles for at least one more console generation. (Microsoft and Sony have both announced new ones that are expected to release in the fall of next year.) But the long-term trend seems evident.

    Demand for physical games has bottomed out, with corresponding retailers like GameStop suffering major losses in recent years. At present, only 17% of video game purchases are acquisitions of physical copies according to the Entertainment Software Association's latest annual report and the shift to digital and especially subscription-based gaming of late has caused VG Chartz to abandon its traditional business of recording game sales data, as it's becoming increasingly futile, being as a growing number of publishers don't measure a game's success in sale terms anymore and therefore don't bother releasing sales data. Google has recently announced that they'll be releasing their first gaming console this fall...and it won't even offer physical or digital purchases; it will be entirely subscription-based streaming. Microsoft and Sony are planning to seriously beef up their subscription services on their next consoles as well (in fact, it has been reported that Microsoft may even offer a low-priced model of their next system that, like Google's upcoming Stadia system, will be exclusively subscription-based, priced at about half of what the corresponding traditional console will cost) and even Nintendo now offers a subscription service of its own for quick, otherwise free access to a bunch of mostly first-party games from their old NES catalog, although the latter is hardly competition for any of the former as a service.

    Subscription-based services increasingly allow players to access "their" games on multiple devices instead of just the TV and the free-to-play access model has proven to encourage people to experiment more with different game genres than they would normally play if they instead had to pay say some $60 up-front and thus also to play more video games even outside of their subscription catalog. Publishers are rushing to provide these services now since, as Newzoo founder Peter Warman aptly put it, the gaming industry is facing a lack of "fresh, innovative blockbuster titles replacing the current, aging top titles." People here know this is something I've complained about for years; that nearly all the real creativity in the gaming business today seems to come from smaller, independent developers rather than from the mainstream AAA market, as the astronomical cost of making mainstream, AAA games today has rendered major publishers increasingly risk-averse in terms of what content they will allow developers to release. Real, substantive innovation today, accordingly, mostly only happens when major publishers aren't in the equation at all. Subscription services help combat that dilemma the industry faces by effectively re-monetizing a publisher's older games that have already been through sales.

    What it all suggests to me is that, whether their Stadia platform itself succeeds or not, perhaps it's Google here that's ahead of the curve in launching a totally subscription-based system. Whether this first such machine sells well or not, it's very announcement seems to me to portend the sort of direction that Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo may eventually wind up going after perhaps one last quasi-normal console generation that still offers the traditional purchases in addition to more robust streaming. SO...

    1) Am I right? Will this upcoming console generation be the last one to offer games for actual purchase?

    AND

    2) If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing on balance, in your view?
    Last edited by IMPress Polly; 06-16-2019 at 08:09 AM.

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    I haven't played a video game since P1 fell down the stairs in her walker in 1991 when I was supposed to be watching her but was instead playing Nintendo River Raid. Scared the Pelosi out of me.

    I think you are right though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IMPress Polly View Post
    With the ambience of this year's E3 trade show still hanging in the air (I guess), I figured this a good time to discuss video games. Namely the future of video games as a medium.

    Here's what I want to pose to everyone today (but especially to @The Xl and @Ethereal): as of this year, there are now more people playing video games through increasingly Netflix-like subscription services than through traditional direct-purchasing models like buying physical or digital copies of games. Other entertainment mediums like music and TV have undergone an analogous transformation over the last decade, though gaming has taken a bit longer owing to a stronger ownership culture that has persisted around this particular medium. Trump's elimination of net neutrality will probably also slow momentum toward subscription/cloud-based gaming for obvious reasons, ensuring the ongoing viability of at least semi-traditional gaming consoles for at least one more console generation. (Microsoft and Sony have both announced new ones that are expected to release in the fall of next year.) But the long-term trend seems evident.

    Demand for physical games has bottomed out, with corresponding retailers like GameStop suffering major losses in recent years. At present, only 17% of video game purchases are acquisitions of physical copies according to the Entertainment Software Association's latest annual report and the shift to digital and especially subscription-based gaming of late has caused VG Chartz to abandon its traditional business of recording game sales data, as it's becoming increasingly futile, being as a growing number of publishers don't measure a game's success in sale terms anymore and therefore don't bother releasing sales data. Google has recently announced that they'll be releasing their first gaming console this fall...and it won't even offer physical or digital purchases; it will be entirely subscription-based streaming. Microsoft and Sony are planning to seriously beef up their subscription services on their next consoles as well (in fact, it has been reported that Microsoft may even offer a low-priced model of their next system that, like Google's upcoming Stadia system, will be exclusively subscription-based, priced at about half of what the corresponding traditional console will cost) and even Nintendo now offers a subscription service of its own for quick, otherwise free access to a bunch of mostly first-party games from their old NES catalog, although the latter is hardly competition for any of the former as a service.

    Subscription-based services increasingly allow players to access "their" games on multiple devices instead of just the TV and the free-to-play access model has proven to encourage people to experiment more with different game genres than they would normally play if they instead had to pay say some $60 up-front and thus also to play more video games even outside of their subscription catalog. Publishers are rushing to provide these services now since, as Newzoo founder Peter Warman aptly put it, the gaming industry is facing a lack of "fresh, innovative blockbuster titles replacing the current, aging top titles." People here know this is something I've complained about for years; that nearly all the real creativity in the gaming business today seems to come from smaller, independent developers rather than from the mainstream AAA market, as the astronomical cost of making mainstream, AAA games today has rendered major publishers increasingly risk-averse in terms of what content they will allow developers to release. Real, substantive innovation today, accordingly, mostly only happens when major publishers aren't in the equation at all. Subscription services help combat that dilemma the industry faces by effectively re-monetizing a publisher's older games that have already been through sales.

    What it all suggests to me is that, whether their Stadia platform itself succeeds or not, perhaps it's Google here that's ahead of the curve in launching a totally subscription-based system. Whether this first such machine sells well or not, it's very announcement seems to me to portend the sort of direction that Microsoft, Sony, and even Nintendo may eventually wind up going after perhaps one last quasi-normal console generation that still offers the traditional purchases in addition to more robust streaming. SO...

    1) Am I right? Will this upcoming console generation be the last one to offer games for actual purchase?

    AND

    2) If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing on balance, in your view?
    Still buy and own my vehicles when I could lease them.
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    One of my biggest concerns about this trend is that...well, to start with, there's long been a running debate over whether the primary manifestation of video games going forward will wind up being essentially as a form of competitive sports or as more of an art form and, kind of preferring the latter, I feel as though my overall personal preferences are on the losing end of that long-term trajectory. (Which, incidentally, is part of why I don't hate Sony like so many gamers seem to these days. They're really the one console company that has continued to focus mainly on launching single-player adventures of various kinds.) Although I guess it does make sense. After all, the first video games, like Tennis for Two and Spacewar, were competitive multiplayer games. Still.

    Well anyway, a lot of my favorite games in recent years have been, as one who has paid attention may have noticed, small, narrative-adventure games. So an example of a concern that I have is...will that type of genre remain financially viable under a subscription-based access model?

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    I will always prefer the physical copy of a game. If I can't hold it in my hands, I don't own it, imo. It seems we are trending towards digital only and subscription releases and it kinda sucks tbh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IMPress Polly View Post
    One of my biggest concerns about this trend is that...well, to start with, there's long been a running debate over whether the primary manifestation of video games going forward will wind up being essentially as a form of competitive sports or as more of an art form and, kind of preferring the latter, I feel as though my overall personal preferences are on the losing end of that long-term trajectory. (Which, incidentally, is part of why I don't hate Sony like so many gamers seem to these days. They're really the one console company that has continued to focus mainly on launching single-player adventures of various kinds.) Although I guess it does make sense. After all, the first video games, like Tennis for Two and Spacewar, were competitive multiplayer games. Still.

    Well anyway, a lot of my favorite games in recent years have been, as one who has paid attention may have noticed, small, narrative-adventure games. So an example of a concern that I have is...will that type of genre remain financially viable under a subscription-based access model?
    There is room for both. Shooters/fighting games/sports sims will be competitive endeavors and RPGs/Action adventure games will be more an artform

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Xl View Post
    I will always prefer the physical copy of a game. If I can't hold it in my hands, I don't own it, imo. It seems we are trending towards digital only and subscription releases and it kinda sucks tbh.
    Do you feel the same way with music? I have lots of CDs which I have copied to my computer. But I really only listen to Pandora now.
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    I don't mind purchasing games digitally at all. I mean like 90% of my current-gen purchases have been digital ones. But it's this trend toward everything being subscription based, where you don't get ownership of games ever that I'm kinda iffy on.

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    I prefer physical copies for the simple reason that I can sell them when I'm done with them. I suspect that is a big reason why large companies would prefer transitioning away from them, since it will effectively eliminate the secondary market for video games. Still, I've seen some really good deal being offered up digitally, including many "free" games (if you don't count the cost of the subscription), so perhaps it will balance out in the end.
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    I have an arcade Galaga machine in the game room. That's how behind the times I am. The pool table, dart board and pinball machine get more use.

    I bought some games for my nephew at a game store one Christmas only to be told, "these are Console3 games that won't work on my Console4 machine". That was the end of my future involvement in purchasing any gaming products from companies like Sony.
    " I'm old-fashioned. I like two sexes! And another thing, all of a sudden I don't like being married to what is known as a 'new woman'. I want a wife, not a competitor. Competitor! Competitor!" - Spencer Tracy in 'Adam's Rib' (1949)

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