It's hard to go into a game store these days and not realise just how lucky we gamers have it now. I never had to endure the videogames crash of 1983, where Atari screwed up the gaming industry so bad that it took a plumber to save it! I was barely born when the dark days of the early 90’s brought forth horrors like the Atari Jaguar CD, Philips CD-I or the Pioneer Laseractive. Since the mid-90’s, there hasn't been a negative shake-up in the gaming world, with technology, accessibility and game quality all reaching pinnacles in the last three generations of consoles.
But ladies and gentlemen, heed my words: The Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move will kill gaming for us all, bringing about another videogames crash!
A rather bold claim to make; how can I be so sure? Ah, well you see, history teaches us this. Although the Xbox Kinect and Playstation Move have sold ten million and nine million units respectively, all you have to do is look back at history and see where things have gone wrong before. Have we really learnt from the mistakes of the past?
There is one unwritten rule of gaming technology that has yet to be broken – console add-ons fail. Every single one. The history books of gaming are littered with many a console that have either flopped, produced shoddy games, or helped to kill a beloved company. Atari was going downhill and tried to save themselves with the Jaguar, which died due to a poor library and a suicidal add-on – the Jaguar CD. Infamously known for its unreliability, only 20000 are known to exist, with many of these models defective for reasons that few can understand.
The Sega Megadrive, simply put, is a classic console worthy to enter gaming heaven with its own wings. However, the end of Sega began with this console, thanks to the many add-ons they decided to create for it. The Mega CD, 32X and Nomad all came and went, leaving a sour taste in gamers' mouths, and ultimately killed any momentum the company had, leading to them becoming a third party developer in 2001.
With titbits coming through that a new Xbox may be around by 2013, and that the new Playstation could be out by next year, it's hard not to say that Kinect and Move are really stop-gap add-ons.
Even the almighty Nintendo has fallen into this trap before, releasing the Famicom Disk System in 1986 and the N64 Disk Drive in 1999. Luckily the damage for the plumber's employers was limited, as these machines were only released in Japan. The Virtual Boy however made it to America in 1995. Although it was a standalone console, it made the second mistake add-ons make – it became the stop-gap system. Nintendo fans knew that the N64 was just around the corner and ignored the console. The Sega 32X failed for the same reason – gamers knew that the Saturn, a much more powerful system, would be released the year afterwards, and the 32X crashed.
Add-on systems also have to contend with a smaller, poorer gaming library, which can be the first and final nails in a console's coffin. CD-based consoles and add-ons like the Mega CD, 3DO and Philips CD-I all had to endure the horrors of the FMV era, a time where shoddy acting, limited gameplay and cheese galore were fed down gamers' throats, being touted as the next big thing. The fact that none of us are playing Night Trap 17 should say enough about the games themselves.
So what of Kinect and Move then? Both have sold rather well, especially considering the number of actual 360’s and PS3’s that are under TV’s at the moment. Therefore it could be said that these add-ons have actually broken the rule of failing, simply by succeeding. However, with titbits coming through that a new Xbox may be around by 2013, and Sony announcing that the new Playstation could be out by next year, it's hard not to say that Kinect and Move are really stop-gap add-ons. It's clear both of these concepts were created to cash in on the Nintendo Wii motion control craze. While not unexpected (the Wii is trouncing both systems with about 90 million sales), copycat systems have only ever led to disaster. Both the Kinect and Move lack the killer-app needed for people to really take the add-ons seriously, and with most titles catering to a casual audience, how long will it be before another videogame crash occurs?
That may not be the worst thing to happen though – if gamers turn on Microsoft and Sony because of Kinect and Move, it could harm the reputation of both companies beyond repair. While it would allow fresh blood to come into the console market, the loss of the Xbox and Playstation brands would leave a bloody stain in the gaming history books that few would forget.
Will Kinect and Move kill gaming? It could swing both ways, and the full effects will only be realised over the next few years. Fingers crossed that both companies learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, and make sure that their systems don't get labelled as stop-gap cash-ins. Imagine if Nintendo have to send in Kirby to save the day?
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