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What is “next gen”?
With the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles, Godfree claiming the WiiU is next gen, and a friend who will not give a game a shot if it looks 16-bit, I felt the need to ask myself a question. What is next gen? It is obviously something new and improved over a previous product, but we are always quick to draw a line in the sand. I propose a standard line based on my following opinion. Before I get started, I want you to tell me if I’m right, wrong or even crazy, this is an opinion piece after all. Hopefully it opens up some healthy discussion on what the term “next gen” means to you. With all that said, let’s begin.
When the WiiU was first shown Nintendo was adamantly claiming that it was “next gen”. Despite what Sony has shown us, and speculatively what Microsoft will show on the 21st, there is a crowd of people that will say the WiiU is still next gen (isn’t that right, Godfree?). All the while, what seems like the majority of people says it is not. Guess what? We have already hit the first wall in this fiasco. Why are we encapsulating all three consoles into a sole next gen category, it doesn’t make sense. Each console is its own product that is going for consumer’s money in the same market: video games. When Apple brings out their new iPhone, do we proclaim this as the next gen of cell phones? Nope, it’s the next gen iPhone. Same reasoning can be applied to many other products (TVs, cars, etc.).
It is with this logic that I say the WiiU is a next gen system. For Nintendo. Just like the Playstation 4 will be a next gen system for Sony. Each console is new and improved over the previous model. They are all next gen in their own right. It doesn’t matter if the graphics are better or not, which leads to my next and final point: the games.
Next gen is also applied to games in a way that automatically attaches them to these new consoles. For example, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a next gen game. That sentence right there is plain lousy. Just like I did with each console, let’s put games on their own pedestal. This is what I believe the right way to say it should be: Killzone: Shadow Fall will be on next gen consoles. A truly next gen game pushes the genre beyond what it already is. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is or where you play it. Make the game developers responsible for their own generations.
To this day one of the best Xbox 360 games is still Geometry Wars 2. It may not look like much but its game play is timeless. Most of these games coming out in “launch windows” are essentially the same games just made prettier. The only thing they are pushing is pixels. Graphics are only there to enhance our game play experience. Kind of like a person with an awesome personality. If they’re attractive, then it’s just a bonus.
To wrap things up, each console manufacturer has a next gen system on their hands. It improves upon their previously released system, regardless of what the competition is doing. Secondly, make game developers responsible for running their own generations. Don’t let them label their game “next gen” unless it is truly pushing the envelope and setting a new standard for games to follow. Now only one question remains. What do YOU think “next gen” is?