Sony’s Big Announcement: Will it Bring Innovation, or More of the Same?

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Today’s a big day; Sony is poised to announce the “future of Playstation” in just a few short hours. We can only assume this means the next Playstation console. I’m very excited, not because I’m foaming at the mouth for a new console, and not because I’m a Sony fanboy  (I haven’t owned a Sony device since the PS2/PSP days); it’s because finally, hopefully, I’ll start to see the changes in video games I’ve been hoping for.

For the past few years, I’ve had a pretty interesting relationship with video games. Mass Effect and Metroid Prime got me back into games in a big way. I was given an Xbox 360, and for the first time in my life became a console-centric gamer. I now own my first handheld in close to 6 years with the 3DS. But at the same time, I found it harder and harder to find the types of gameplay experiences I wanted. I don’t care much for shooters. I don’t play much multiplayer. Neck stabbing or violent combos don’t sell games for me; and most importantly, I don’t play games on my phone. At times, these past 4 or 5 years, I’ve felt left behind in terms of the type of gamer I am and types of experiences I want.

It seems like the driving force behind a game today is “how do we make it marketable?” Who the fuck cares!? Games feel more like products these days and creative experiences. I understand this is a business, but for a while there I really thought we were on to something. I used to see games big and small being talked about as artistic creations, lauded for their creativity and innovation. Now I just see pandering and stagnation. I don’t mean to say that all the big game franchises out there are simply “products,” but from the way games are marketed, to the way they’re covered in the gaming press, to the way they feel and look, the entire medium looks dull.

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There are literally thousands of games out, right now, that you can go play and experience. Games from throughout the medium’s history, from a plethora of genres. There are thousands of unique characters to meet, hundreds and hundred of worlds to explore, and a near-infinite number of stories for you to create. But those games are out. We’ve played them. No matter how much I try to convince myself there’s change coming, it won’t: older games are irrelevant compared to the new Playstation; The Ouya won’t outsell the next Xbox; An iPad will be more appealing to the mainstream consumer than a game console. Maybe, these pandering money-grubbing companies will leave consoles behind and flock to tablets and phones. And though the PC and console markets will shrink, they could be home to the game creators who are interested in making interesting and creative adventures and stories for us to explore. Or, maybe, we’ll all just be playing Angry Birds on our TV’s for the rest of our lives.

Gaming has (hopefully) reached its peak. I say that not because I don’t want people to experience the creativity or innovation of videogames, but because I want the medium to stop caring about catering to the mainstream. I’d be more than okay if the next generation of consoles weren’t as ubiquitous as the Wii, Xbox 360, or PS3. Maybe the gaming landscape would become interesting again.

So here were are, mere hours away at our first glimpse of the next generation of consoles. Whether or not you’re a fan of Sony this is a big day. I am filled with hope and excitement, but also anxiety and concern. The seemingly immenent failure of the Wii U disappoints me because I felt the Wii U represented the type of innovation the industry was (maybe) moving towards. Now, I’ unsure.

I don’t know if I’ll be buying into the next gen consoles. I feel like I’ve been playing (or at least seeing) the same games over and over. I’m ready for new ideas. I’m ready to wowed. I don’t care how powerful these new machines are – I’ll always prefer PC to console in terms of processing muscle. I care about games and experiences. I hope Sony delivers.

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