2017 The New Golden Age of Gaming
I remember back in 2012 working in the electronics department of a large retailer, and having a Nintendo rep show up to inform us about new Nintendo products. He was dropping off some marketing material, and he told us about the the new soon to be launched Wii U. As a serious (and teenage) gamer, I owned an Xbox 360 and a PS3 already and didn't care much about the Wii. I didn't like the controllers or the kid oriented library. I had never heard of the Wii U at this point; as it had only been just announced. Looking at the small picture in the flyer my first assumption was this was just some new “tablet accessory” for the wii. Remember, back in 2012 the tablet was still very new technology. Apple had only launched the first iPad two years before, and Amazon had just recently revealed the Amazon Kindle. Tablets were all the rage and every one started making one. It was still “hip” to own a tablet, only the "cool kids" had one. When the iPad Mini launched it was this hot ticket item I had to hide in the stockroom in order to secure mine. No where in my mind did I even think this “tablet” was some sort of “wii 2”: a simple name change that would have done wonders for Nintendo as a company. I went on with my day and it wasn't until months later when I learned it was an entirely new console with new games. When all 8 people showed up to buy the console at launch, I was amazed to find out that even then two people in line thought they were just buying some tablet accessory for their existing wii. This life lesson Nintendo learned about the importance of names and proper marketing, lead to to a disappointing generation for Nintendo. The Wii U sold poorly, especially compared to its predecessor being one of the most successful home consoles ever made. Third Party support quickly evaporated from the Wii U and the Xbox One and PS4 eventually released putting the final nail on the coffin for the Wii U. The Xbox One and PS4 launched. They were popular and every gamer friend I knew was slowly buying them. The only problem was… Games. The first year for both these consoles felt so sparse on games. The Xbox One launched at 499$ and yet the games for both these consoles felt lacking. The gaming industry kept using buzz words like “Next Gen” but the consoles were expensive and felt lacking in games. The PS4 and Xbox One section of gaming stores felt tiny; plus during this period, game developers were still developing almost all of their big title games for previous generation. The previous generation consoles were holding the new ones back, and the need to upgrade felt unnecessary. Over the next few years, many felt like the gaming industry was in some trouble, at the least not what it once was. Games were launching left and right unfinished. Games like the Division and No Mans Sky were launching so far from what was promised. New beautiful graphics were promised with “next gen”, but so many games failed to achieve this new look. Games were launching with poor graphics than what were promised. One of the “Big Three” (Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation) was virtually absent from the game. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, while still seeing large sales, saw the lowest players for the franchise in quite some time. Over the past year 2016, Xbox has been widely criticized as having “no games”. 2016 marked a difficult year for Xbox because the only new AAA IP for Xbox, Scalebound, was cancelled. This only added to the illusion that PS4 had all the great exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona, Nier, The Last of Us, and others. Were we about to see the fall of Xbox too? The Big Three felt like "the Big Sony". What was the state of gaming going to look like in the future? The NEW GOLDEN AGE of gaming is 2017. Nintendo is Back. Virtual Reality hits mainstream. While the industry as a whole was in not in serious trouble; tens of billions of dollars were still spent on games, and 2016 saw many successes such as Overwatch selling over 20 Million units. 2017 felt like a major renewing year for Gaming. This E3 2017 is the biggest and most exciting E3 we have had in years. The Big Three has been reinvigorated and is alive and well and all are present at E32017. Nintendo has launched their fast selling console to date with the Nintendo Switch. Xbox unveiled the first truly 4K console with the Xbox One X. Virtual Reality has been slowly gaining traction over the past few years but really showed its full true colors at E32017. For many reasons 2017 marks a new golden age of gaming. THE BIG THREE RETURN IN FORCE:
The Nintendo Switch is a complete 180 turn for Nintendo. While few purchased the Wii U or fewer still even knew what it was, the Switch has been selling out of stock in all major retailers. Game Stop has said this was the strongest console launch they've seen in years. There was always this hesitation on whether or not third party would support it. This E3 showed that third party’s are doubling down on Nintendo Switch with games like Skyrim, and Fifa, as well as Ubisoft announcing a cross over with Mario+Rabbids. Near launch, first party games games such as Legend of Zelda BOTW and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe broke records. Mario Odyssey, a new Pokemon RPG, and Metroid Prime 4 promise to be major players into 2018 as well. Now for the first time in over 5 years, there feels like there are truly three consoles and three platforms for games to care about. We see real innovation in the Joy Con controllers and a completely new and redesigned mobile experience for traditionally home console gaming. 2017 marked the year that console games could be taken on the go with the Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo is so far standing behind their promises to bring many games to Switch.
Microsoft unveiled they're newest generation of platform, the Xbox One X. This console is exciting in that it is the very first console capable of true 4K games. Resolution is not the whole story but this console also has unprecedented power in environments, graphics, shadows, textures, and more. We got to see beautiful 4K games like Anthem and Assassin Creed Origins. These are massive open world games, that have the detailed environments that were promised by games years before. When we look at major disappointments like Division or No Mans Sky; games that promised massive worlds that looked beautiful in demo but then fell majorly flat when released. We are finally seeing facial animations, rich detailed environments, and freedom in games that we were promised years ago. Is history going to repeat itself? I don't believe so. We are seeing massive beautiful games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda running in upscaled 4K on PS4 Pro. On Xbox One X and even PS4 Pro we are being promised even more true “next gen” gaming experiences. These games we are seeing out of E3 are some of the most beautiful environments ever seen in gaming history. Games like Detroit Become Human, Anthem, and Assassins Creed look astounding. In Addition to all this true next gen gaming, Microsoft expanded backwards compatibility to include original xbox games! This is the first time we have ever seen three generations of games existing on one console. The Future of Gaming is Here.
2017 gave us the first full length AAA first person shooter VR with Farpoint. With the consumer arrival of VR headsets such as Vive, Oculus, and PSVR the availability of virtual reality is becoming more and more available to consumers. Cost of Entry is now at an all time low with PSVR’s starting at 349$. This E3 brought many major titles to VR such as Skyrim, Fallout, and Doom all on VR. With the arrival of the Aim Controller we see the potential for the future of shooters.
We are seeing some the most amazing games launching, and the largest amount of titles we have seen at E3 in a long time. We are seeing the dawn of VR gaming. We are seeing the dawn of console games on the go. We are seeing the dawn of real 4K gaming. We are seeing some of the most beautiful game environments ever made. We are seeing a fluidity with multigenerational gaming with Xbox backwards compatibility, as well as services such as Playstion Now and Xbox Game Pass, putting previous gen games on Playstation and Xbox One. Nintendo is also bringing classic games to Switch later. We see a bright future for games. We see so many amazing games being announced. We see an exciting new golden age of gaming.