Nick Simberg: We tend to romanticize the past, be it a first love, a favorite TV show as a child, or – as is all too common in today's rocky gaming landscape – retro games. We remember the Super Mario World's, the Sonic the Hedgehog 2's, and the Final Fantasy VII's. And that's great! But then we forget that things like Wand of Gamelon and E.T. on the 2600 happened. Looking at many of the games of today (I'm giving you the stink eye as hard as I can, NBA Baller Beats), it's hard not to feel disenfranchised. On-disc day-one DLC, overly oppressive DRM, and a never-ending deluge of iOS shovelware don't give much hope for the future of gaming, either. Are games really not as good as they used to be? In a lot of cases, yes. But in a lot of other cases, a huge, resounding no.
What a lot of modern-day gamers seem to be forgetting is that so many of the new experiences we're having today weren't even possible as little as ten years ago. The world of Skyrim could never have fit on an N64 cartridge. The transcendent Journey multiplayer just wouldn't be possible without all of the advances we as a society have made in the online space. Without the NES-shaped building blocks of our youth, the familiar, yet entirely new, Rayman Origins wouldn't be able to tickle our fun bone, our nostalgia bone, and our “holy balls this game is beautiful” bone all at the same time. Sure, it's been a slow few months recently, but we're on the downward slope of the current console generation – that's to be expected, and it never lasts forever.
So go ahead and enjoy those old games; as long as there's money to be made or a story to tell, people will keep making bigger and better new games. We will never – and I say this as a gamer, as an American, as a member of the interminable human race – run out of fresh ideas. That is why gaming will never die, and why the best is and will always be yet to come.
Steve Bogda: As an eternal optimist (no, really), I've always felt the best is always just around the corner. I feel like things do tend to get better, progressively, even if disconcerting trends are hit, cyclically. Gaming is no different.
The monetization of the gaming industry was to be expected, and now that it's here, it is quite annoying. Big budgets used to be required to make games with any sense of taste. Now that capital is being turned into money grabs and sequels. In many ways, I look at the future of video games and don't see much that grabs my attention like prospects used to. As I get older, older games start to look so much better. The fact they were made with such limitations and so many creative unknowns is more astounding.
Now that games have become rather formulaic, the occasional surprise is all the more delightful. Look at film: so many people wish for the gaming industry to become like the movies. But the movies are often generic. Same can be said for music, and any other creative field that has become mainstream. Dollars don't lie.
But all that makes the rare gem more valuable. And that's something to look forward to.
Kelly Rubert: Monetization isn't the same anymore, though. With the rise of Kickstarter, we have yet to see if fans can actually finance and support a creative game that the big publishers are afraid to take a chance on. If they succeed, which I believe they will, we might be entering an entire new era of gaming as we know it. Kickstarter will not only keep the industry fresh, but help tell big publishers exactly what we expect as gamers. Even if Kickstarter fails and there's never another game financed by fans alone, I believe that any kind of pessimism from fans right now comes merely out of shortsightedness. Consoles are getting closer to the end of their cycle and this has simply been a slow year for game thus far. Yes, there have been some bumps in the road, but publishers and developers rarely get away with making something that upsets their fans. You have to remember that the last six years of gaming have been nothing but innovative and exciting, so just because we've reached the end of a generation of games doesn't mean we've fallen off the edge.
To be fair, I've never been one for nostalgia in video games myself, but there are things that I don't want to lose from the old days. I like stats, I like picking skill trees, I like shooting dudes in the face and I love dialogue choices. I know that games are building towards streamlining options, but I'd hate to see certain staples of gaming vanish. Those who don't believe the video game world is better now probably have seen their own favorite qualities of a game fall by the wayside in favor of more popular features. But, I would argue that those things are never gone forever. The video game industry is probably one of the most fan-involved entertainment mediums in the world, so it's more malleable towards what gamers actually want. Look at the recent Sonic the Hedgehog game that actually makes both third person and second person platforming fun. Or how Bioshock: Infinite promises an old school mode that's harder and makes death more penalizing. Gamers from completely different sides of the fan spectrum are getting what they want by being vocal about it.
Nick Simberg: The thing about money is that people won't buy the same game FOREVER. Sure, we can sell them another Call of Duty every November, but there will always be people expecting more. The not-as-good-as-Black-Ops Modern Warfare 3 sales suggest that even formulas that have been polished to perfection grow stale. The rise of ideas like Kickstarter imply that some – not all, but some – gamers are fed up with the way things are being done today. Still, we can't go back to the way things were done in the 80s, either; the internet has fundamentally changed all of that. The game industry has become this hulking behemoth, surpassing movies, music, books, and every other entertainment medium, and there is NO WAY that it will fall back to the niche hobby sidelines. Don't give up – a brand new batch of consoles is right around the corner.
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