The other day I was quoted a few times in a CNN article, unfortunately entitled “Why console gaming is dying“.
When I was interviewed for that article – way back in August – I obviously didn’t know the headline would take such a negative slant, otherwise I wouldn’t have participated. I suppose that’s what generates page views, however.
I worked as a producer in the console games industry from 1995 to 2008, when I founded AC+A. Many of my friends and colleagues still work in console games. If you want to see what cutting edge tech and visuals in games look like, it’s still the hands-down best place to find that. The devotion and artistry of those who often toil away for years on a single console title is truly impressive, and likely unrivalled by any other sector of the game industry.
I believe there will always be a role for a high end consumer games experience. Precisely how and who delivers that experience is in a state of flux, but then again, the games industry as a whole is in a near-constant state of disruption – so this should come as no surprise. Social games have plateaued somewhat, mobile is still accelerating (but not immune to what ails social), casual downloadable games petered out a couple years ago, PC gaming is on the upswing again after a few years of depression, and so forth.
The bottom line is that the games industry is a cyclical one, both on a seasonal and more macro platform level. Some companies come and go, delivery methods and revenue models adapt to consumer demand, but ultimately the end goal stays the same: deliver a variety of supremely engaging games, from the high end to the indie end and everything in between. Labeling one sector of gaming as “dying” is akin to saying trees die in fall because they lose their leaves.
While most of my group’s work these days is done in the mobile social sector, I still marvel at the richly detailed, handcrafted, epic-sized experiences created by my colleagues in the console games sector. Seeing your work being played by a kid using Kinect in Walmart is a level of mainstream that few in mobile get to experience (aside from Rovio, of course).
I have huge respect for those who create these long-form console experiences, whether what they make is a hit or not.
Long live console games!