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The future of the gaming industry

Gaming consoles seem to be heading in a strange direction. They are actually going to publish less games. The games that are published will probably only be from existing AAA game studios, that have the most power to negotiate. Any successful indies will quickly be bought by existing publishers, maybe even the publishing arm of the console manufacturers themselves. Then they will inevitably be encouraged to create exclusive titles for the console. So the players will lose out unless they own both a playstation and an xbox. Sony seems to be getting the best titles at the moment, at least the ones that I want to play.


The advantage that the console had over PC desktop gaming was that it was plug and play but that has all been ruined. The consoles behave more and more like computers with unavoidable automatic upgrades. When all you want to do is play, you are forced to wait for all the unnecessary changes to the launcher to download over the internet, whether you want them or not. And they try to tie you into an ecosystem that cannot be escaped.


On PC, Steam used to be the number one platform but now there is not enough signal and too much noise. Many games never get played and the indie publishers get lost in a sea of content. The sheer volume of games released seems to be ever increasing, making it hard to stand out. And the quality control is somewhat lacking. With new stores like Epic or Itch, steam could quickly lose out.


Phones are changing everything. They have brought in a new wave of casual gamers who are not very interested in consoles, the grind of games with over 50 hours of play time. They want instant gratification, on the move and usually for free. The phones might even catch up with the consoles and outperform them as a computing platform. And the huge gaps between console releases, which seems to finally be getting shorter, could mean that they eventually become irrelevant.


On another dimension, consoles are pretending to be just a part of a home entertainment system. I don't understand why they think they need to compete with the existing movie business. They already dominate them. Video games already make more than Hollywood. And there are plenty of higher quality home entertainment and media player systems available. Unless you really go high end, they cost a lot less than a console and come with a remote. You could even build a media server using a Raspberry Pi.


I think free to play ruined the game market and there is no going back. Maybe I am old skool but I do not like advertising and I do not like micro-transactions. I do not see anything wrong with charging for a game. If people do not think it is worth the money then they do not have to buy it. What I do not like to see is game companies employing attention engineers to figure out how to make games addictive in nasty ways. Instead of making a game addictive by making it amazing and fun to play, it is easier to find these people who can trick your limbic system into purchasing things you don't want or need. I think that is unethical and I sympathise with parents who complain that their children won't do their homework because they are playing games where they are gambling - paying money for loot boxes that may or may not contain an awesome weapon. I see what you are doing there, which is breaking the law, the 2005 Gambling Act which requires that you make provision to protect children and


These are my opinions and mine alone. I do not own a crystal ball and this should not be used as a basis for any financial or legal decisions. But things have to change.


#gaming

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