Do you ever get the feeling at some point where you slowly realise that something or someone that you used to have great fun with, spend a lot of time with and really care about doesn’t actually do all of those things any more. It’s not necessarily an overnight thing, and there’s not necessarily a reason for it, but it’s definitely not the same. As melodramatic as it may seem, that’s how I’ve felt about video games for the last few months. The thing is though that there’s a few reasons why, and both sides of the bargain to blame.
First of all is the time in which we both live, games and I. For the video game industry, the last year or so has been a transition point – where the old PS3s and Xbox 360s are slowly dropped from support and development and the focus shifts towards developing for the next-gen. This leads to a strange halfway house in terms of new releases that doesn’t really suit either generation very well. Old generations get lower-resolution, lighter-featured versions of the new titles and new generations get games that are limited in their true potential by not wanting to leave the old guys too far behind. Games like Titanfall, Destiny and Advanced Warfare have done well on both consoles in recent months, but none of them have been quite as far-reaching as I’m sure their developers have wanted them to be. Granted, they are all the first in their respective new franchises – but as the biggest titles of the last year it shows a lot that the games industry is still learning the ropes with the new hardware.
The new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are both now well over a year old, and it should be this year where we see them really find their form. The problem that this generation has, compared with last-generation at least, is that they aren’t as massive a step up. When we moved into the HD era it was easy to show just how much better things were becoming in video games with the incredible new graphics and the masses more memory at the hands of developers. The jumps aren’t nearly as big this time, and as such, it hasn’t given games that wow-factor that makes people like me run out and buy.
Perhaps it’s the lack of impressive hardware that has meant that there haven’t been any real killer apps on the next gen as of yet, and that’s the core of the gaming side of my slump. There is no new Mass Effect, no new Red Dead and no new must have IP that tempts my fancy. The new release of GTA V is perhaps the best game available on the new boxes and for all the bells and whistles added to it for its’ new release and all the success it’s had, there’s no doubt that it’s only adding a new sheen to what was already a great game on old hardware.
Now games aren’t all to blame for my lack of love for them. I’m a student, and as I go on with uni there’s a distinct problem of the workload getting higher and money supply getting lower. I don’t have nearly as much time now in which I can sit down and indulge in a long gaming session, and certainly don’t have the funds to go out and buy a new game every month or two to force a novelty, never mind buy an entirely new console at the cost of a few hundred pounds. I’m not the only one in this predicament, and many of my friends also find themselves further and further away from their controllers. Part of the fun of games, certainly online multiplayer ones, was that you would be there with your friends. When not as many of your friends are there it peels back a little layer of what made the game quite as good and makes it a little less exciting to play. Without that excitement, why play games at all?
So there’s a perfect storm that has resulted in my time on the controller being drastically lower than it was even a year or so ago. This year could prove make or break for my involvement in games. If E3 this year goes by without throwing some amazing new titles my way and getting me really interested in following the industry again then there’s a real possibility that the bulk of this generation could pass me by, as I leave the relative shelter of university for the world of work in 2016. I’m hoping that this is just a video game slump, and not the end of my interest in them, but only time will tell.
This isn’t quite Master Chief going into cryo sleep, but I’m definitely waiting for my gaming sense to wake up.