The Amazon-Sponsored (not) Bookshelf Edition
2, Issue 11
February 10, 1999
I think that consoles have a better chance of making online business
profitable than the PC in its present state. The standard hardware
format of a console is a big, big plus, as is the knowledge that
everyone is running the same version of the game - I'm sure these
factors are what led to the development of Microsoft's X-Box.
Also, having a single company in charge of a network (like Sony,
Sega and Square all plan on doing) means that the riskier concepts
can be followed through, and development teams can be "encouraged"
to focus on exploiting these features. Sure, nobody owns the internet
(as we know it from using our PCs) and that's great, but it also
means we (and developers) have to wait for the standards and ideas
to emerge. The console giants will have the utmost control over
the content of their networks - a worrying thought, sure, but
it might just speed the evolution of the online experience, transforming
it from a fragfest with brains (usually) to something entirely
new and original. Or we might just get ports of Quake III Arena,
only look at how Epic pounced on the opportunity to get the Unreal
Tournament engine running on the Playstation 2 to see that
"middleware" is going to become a massive part of game
development over the next few years (and also how seriously many
PC developers are taking the next-generation consoles). The size
and ambition of many titles getting underway means that many (if
not most) development teams will have to outsource a lot of their
content-creation work and licensing elements of technology will
become a matter of course. This increase in the costs of development
means that developers will be looking to sell their game across
as many formats as possible. As usual, id led where others are
destined to follow when it chose to develop Quake III Arena
with cross-format portability in mind.
to predict what this might lead to: will we see more and more
PC developers looking to port their titles to the console formats?
If so, will these developers design games with the limitations
of various hardware formats in mind? Will this lead to stifled
creativity in the interests of maximizing sales? Somehow, I doubt
anything so dramatic will happen - but there will definitely be
some kind of impact. Perhaps the PC's days as a stand-alone gaming
format are numbered?
indicated their desire to see the Playstation 2 stick around for
even longer than the original Playstation hardware. To PC owners
(used to upgrading some element of their system on an annual basis)
the thought of a system remaining "static" for a six
or seven year period must either be nuts, or terrifying beyond
belief (or both). I must admit that, from an academic perspective,
I'm curious to see how game development is influenced/forced to
innovate by Playstation 2's hardware remaining in stasis over
that time. The original Playstation format has looked very dated
for some time, but it managed to fine-tune some of my favourite
genres close to perfection - survival horror and rhythm-action
("I gotta believe!"). The fact that so many of the PS2
launch titles are merely graphically-accomplished versions of
PlayStation games makes me think it will take some time before
developers use the power of the system to really enhance the gameplay
(as opposed to the graphical) experience.
Nick Ferguson lives five minutes in the future (or five hours,
if you go by EST).