Sunday, 13 April 2014

History of Gaming Part 3 - 2000 - Present

The long awaited third instalment of gaming history, this post will cover the history of gaming from 2000 up to now. I will try and keep it relatively condensed; obviously there is a lot to cover as this is the period where gaming becomes a lot more mainstream and popular. This is also the period where I started to really get in to gaming as it was when I grew up so I actually owned a lot of these consoles and had great experiences with them; if I didn’t pick up these consoles and get in to gaming I probably wouldn’t be at university studying game design. The industry advances in leaps and bounds in the years to come, three generations of consoles, massive advances in technology mean for much better graphics and the online revolution really kick-starts with help from Xbox live, PSN and Steam.

The first step towards modern day gaming was the release of the PlayStation 2 in early 2000, this showed a massive leap in graphics compared to the PlayStation 1. The console was home to many great titles that many consider to be classics; games like Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Jak & Daxter, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Kingdom Hearts etc. When Sony officially discontinued the PlayStation 2 in January of 2013, over 5 years later than the game cube and 4 years later than the original Xbox. For over a decade, the console has proven itself a reliable entertainment device and an affordable bridge into gaming for people who couldn’t afford newer consoles and models. As of March 2012, the console has sold over 155 million units. It’s a machine that was home to experimental games, pure titles released for all manner of niche gamer and it bridged many age groups.

A year later Microsoft and Nintendo announce their new consoles within days of each other, Xbox pushing more towards power and Nintendo pushing more towards new forms of interactive gaming. This is also the same year that Sega announces they will no longer be releasing hardware and will instead focus on software due to its Dreamcast failing to sell well due to the PlayStation and PlayStation 2.

This decade of gaming also saw the release of the current generation of consoles, well not quite current as next gen has been available for a couple months now but in my opinion that will only become current gen when the Xbox 360 and ps3 become obsolete. 2005 saw the release of the Xbox 360 a whole year before the PS3 and the WII which gave it a massive head start against its opposition however it also means the technology in the PS3 was considerably more powerful.  However the Xbox did considerably better in the early years mainly due to the PS3s price which was a lot more than the Xbox; Sony combatted this by offering free online play and a cheaper optional subscription service that gave you so many games a month for free. These consoles again brought us many fantastic games that defined the decade, Grand Theft Auto 4 and 5, The Last of Us, the Halo series, Heavy Rain and many more.

PC gaming has also come a long way, especially toward the latter half of the 00s; this was mainly because of the advent of steam. It was first unveiled at GDC 2002 and when it launched a year later, it was far from the popular sales system that we know it as today. In fact, it was first released as a digital distribution surface whose main purpose was to distribute patches and updates to online games. However steam did get better with age and have slowly snowballed in to the go to online distributer for pc gamers, selling triple A and indie titles alongside each other and making pc modding a breeze with Steam workshop steam has soared in to popularity among many.

As of last year we saw the arrival of the next generation of consoles, the Playstation 4 and the oddly named Xbox One. The consoles have been out for around half a year now and have fluctuated a little bit but with the PlayStation 4 coming out just on top on sales. This is mainly due to it being cheaper and the odd announcement of the Xbox One putting off some of Xbox’s fans. They announced there console at a standalone event just before E3 but focussed on the consoles non-gaming functionality and saying that they will get rid of second hand games. They have however pulled a 180 turn on the second hand games due to fans creating a fuss about it and them not getting enough pre-orders in the first few days. I suppose only time will tell who will come out on top, I know Xbox has better games coming this year in comparison to the PS4 however I can see the Xbox struggling unless the price drops.



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