We’ve been hearing about next-generation consoles and next-generation games for a long time before the Xbox One and PS4 were released, generating the biggest hype level in the history of gaming and we witnessed the most important transition between consoles, generation-wise. We’ve been fed engine trailers and demonstrations that defy the graphic limitation of everything we’ve seen in the past. Our minds were inundated with concepts like photorealism and ultra-HD visuals, the gaming industry placing great emphasis on the idea of technological advancement. So it’s no wonder that we all expected something really out of the ordinary, deep down we all wanted our minds to be blown by this transition between generations. So now, months after “next-gen” becoming “current-gen”, did the industry really delivered?
To be honest, I tend to be disappointed by the actual release of next-gen merchandise and by merchandise I mean games. Of course, along with this jump came a number of “gimmicks” like the Steam Box or VR devices like the Oculus Rift, but I don’t really care about those, they are just mere distractions. The so-called brilliance of next-gen games is what I’m interested in. With the recent release of Thief, which calls itself next-gen, and a number of other self-entitled games which were released up to this very moment on the Xbox One and PS4 systems, I’m not sure if I really understand what next-gen means. Or if anyone does, for that matter.
But let’s look back at another transition between generations, the jump from the PS2/Xbox to PS3/Xbox360. I was one of the first to put their hands on the new Playstation 3 system which came bundled with Insomniac Games’ Resistance so that, of course, was my first “next-gen” game. I immediately noticed the similarity between it and other Playstation 2 titles, graphic-wise which was kind of a bad thing. Of course, I was a tiny bit disappointed, but it didn’t bother me that much. And I know that the PS3 was a difficult hardware to work with and it took a while before really beautiful games were released on it. So what’s keeping me to apply the same thinking concept on the transition between the PS3 and PS4 and why am I bothered this time? Because of their advertising. Of course next-gen consoles are at their very beginning and I’m sure that in the following years we will see games becoming better and better, but the problem is their marketing strategies.
They generated just too much hype. Sony and Microsoft were a bit overwhelmed by their own advertising success. And not only the consoles manufacturers, but also the developers and 3rd party studios. They created this idea that we will witness big, major changes, on the spot. And I, like most of the people, got sucked in. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with next-gen games, except that the current ones don’t actually feel like being next-gen. They just don’t live up to my personal expectations. You may call me naive for getting all hyped up before their release, but let’s face it, we were all hyped up. I expected the jump to another generation to be sudden and explosive while in reality it was smooth and linear, but in a very subtle manner. Gamers just didn’t really know what to expect, and neither did the big companies or the developers. The psychological definition of the word “next-gen” was ambiguous and confusing and we just gave the term a hyperbolic meaning, we developed a dangerous concept, a scenario in which we witnessed a huge transition between technological levels. We just fooled ourselves and therefore hurt the whole idea of evolving from an old system to a new one.
I can only hope that the upcoming games will really stand out and deliver that thick, clear difference between generations and when I look at titles like The Division or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I can only get my hopes up, which I actually hate because I get all hyped up again and have a really nasty chance at being disappointed.