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Industry Talk: How To Revive Previous-Generation Gaming
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Industry Talk: How To Revive Previous-Generation Gaming

by Nick PinkertonAugust 27, 2012

When it comes to gaming, I’m a little set in my own ways. Though in tune with the gaming media multiple times a day, I learn more about the rapidly changing games industry by following it than playing it. Frankly, I wish I could go back to a simpler time…maybe 10 years ago with my best friends, some Mountain Dew, two bags of popcorn, and 4-player Super Smash Bros. Melee on a Friday night.

Despite beginning to explore the online & social spheres, the previous console generation held up a level of intimacy among gaming culture. We’re now at a point where gaming has a high degree of social integration and where casual and hardcore gaming coexist. That said, there have been pieces of the gaming industry that have not carried over into now but are of significance nonetheless. What specifically have we missed out on in this current generation? Here are some of the most prominent examples below and the big question following them: Which of these MIA will make a comeback with Wii-U, PS4, or Xbox 720?

Third-Party Console Exclusives

Third-party developers still come out with games that are exclusive to consoles, but such games are not responsible for selling hardware and thus are becoming rarer. Here are several of the highest-rated third-party console exclusives for the current generation. Some of these games were also released on PC around the time of initial launch: Demon’s Souls, Valkyria Chronicles, Disgaea, Left 4 Dead, The Witcher 2, Dead Rising, No More Heroes, Boom Blox, Mad World.

Now for the previous generation: Grand Theft Auto III, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy X, Ninja Gaiden, Knights of the Old Republic, Chronicles of Riddick, Rogue Squadron, Super Monkey Ball, Tales of Symphonia.

At that time, Sony had a stranglehold on several third-party developers and sold millions of consoles with other exclusive franchises such as Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Guitar Hero. Microsoft took advantage of PC game franchises while offering Oddworld, Panzer Dragoon, and Dead or Alive 3. The differences in libraries across the consoles was significant but continued moving the industry’s big players in a similar direction for a few more years. Now the hardware platforms feature more identical lineups of third-party games.

Likelihood of Revival: With the way Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Madden, and The Elder Scrolls sell in the market, there is little reason for third party developers to focus their investments on one particular platform. Nintendo’s hardware is different but has discouraged the EAs and Activisions out there from making Wii-exclusive games. That said, with the evolution of current home consoles from their 2005-06 inception, Microsoft and Sony are going to find new ways to make their hardware authentic to their audiences. That will call for third-party developers to jump through hoops if they want the same game on multiple systems. In short, it’s equally possible developers will focus their attention on individual systems or struggle to keep a uniform design for all games to make everyone satisfied.

Exclusive to PS2 upon launch, Rockstar’s GTA series sold millions of Sony’s console.

3D Action Platformers

Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and Sly Cooper were three (or five) faces of Sony in the PS2’s heyday. Nintendo expanded its 3dAP lineup with Luigi’s Mansion, Wario World, and Star Fox Adventures. Even third-party titles like Metal Arms and Oddworld made a splash in the market. With a new wave of consoles, Nintendo and Sony kept the genre alive with Mario Galaxy and Ratchet and Clank, but the rest of platforming went back to 2D. HD remakes of generations past showed up, but little original content made an impact.

Likelihood of Revival: The complexity of third-person gameplay — cover-based motion and shooting, pop-up menus and icon displays, and in-game cinematic sequences — has evolved so much that it has alienated the 3D Action Platform genre. The graphical potential of an action platformer is either not as appealing to developers or can be achieved through a mobile platform. It’s unlikely we’ll see the next home consoles churning out more 3dAPs.

Extreme Sports Games

There was a time when every sport represented in the X-Games had its video game counterpart, and, no matter how “extreme,” many of these games were great. Tony Hawk, SSX, and ATV Offroad Fury were some of the most successful sports franchises over the 2000s. Let’s also recall how traditional sports were taken to the next level with NBA Street, NHL Hitz, and MLB Slugfest. This console generation brought us Skate and a revived SSX franchise, but otherwise extreme sports games were left off the map.

Likelihood of Revival: Much of this depends on the popularity of extreme sports. Extreme sports and its athletes have found other cost-effective ways to successfully market themselves: clothing, music, social media, and other branding opportunities. In addition, many of the genre’s studios have either fallen by the wayside (Neversoft, Tony Hawk franchise) or have bigger fish to fry (EA Black Box, Need for Speed franchise). Few signs point to a resurgence.

Star Wars

Despite giving us The Old Republic, Lego Star Wars, and The Force Unleashed, the Star Wars franchise has not captured the same scope nor quality of gameplay that the previous generation did. Much from these games was a re-hash from what we already experienced. LucasArts has teased Star Wars 1313, which offers a new perspective and gameplay style for Star Wars fans, but we know little so far. Last generation’s KOTORs, Empire at War, Battlefront, Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron, Jedi Knight, and Starfighter are a handful of the diverse and critically acclaimed titles under the LucasArts banner.

Likelihood of Revival: Star Wars has thrived as a cultural icon for the past 35 years and shows little signs of stopping. With 1313 on its way, an overwhelming demand for the next true KOTOR, and a currently over-saturated market for Marvel/DC games, Star Wars will likely reign supreme in licensed game content.

Split-Screen Multiplayer

You’re probably thinking “I can play Halo/COD/Borderlands on split-screen.” Plenty of games still feature 2 and occasionally 4-person split-screen campaign and multiplayer. However, the emphasis of online multiplayer gaming has devalued the need for split-screen. For mainstream core gamers, split-screen multiplayer offers nothing new when compared to the diversity and scalability available in the online sphere.

Likelihood of Revival: Like the Wii, Nintendo plans to follow through with Wii U by offering motion-controlled, casual gaming experiences for friends & family. Microsoft and Sony have their spin-offs as well. But the immense question remains: What core-gamer franchises can be successful in a motion-controlled system? Perhaps developers will find a way by starting with their games and not the hardware/technology. Imagine a game like Gears of War diversifying the action by implementing a sensor-controlled chainsaw battle mode with which you and three friends could partake. Split-screen may have changed, but it is still relevant.

It was a pain to set up, but it was a lot of fun.

Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Survival-Horror

Building on the PS1’s successful titles, Capcom took our fears to new heights with Resident Evil Zero and 4, and Konami tempted us to turn off the lights with Silent Hill 2 and 3. However, these survival-horror trailblazers have left our frights un-quenched and, with a slough of lukewarm titles that featured unreliable cameras, sloppy controls, and fragmented stories, have left a void in one of the community’s most passionate audiences. Resident Evil 6 is due out this October, but other than games with survival-horror elements like Dead Space 3, there isn’t much to look forward to.

Likelihood of Revival: It’s difficult to imagine two flagship franchises getting canned, but with the market thriving from action-oriented games, we could be walking our last dark corridors. Horror-based games like Dead Island and Left 4 Dead can give us constant action with an occasional spook, so the classic survival-horror approach is on the outside looking in.

The gaming industry evolves just as quickly as everything else in consumer tech and entertainment, and along the way we encounter a plethora of technologies, perspectives, and games that we want to hold on to. But how much of that have we harnessed from the past 30-plus years, and what have we left behind by mistake? The examples above are only a vignette, but they illustrate that, rather than progressing based on its present and future, gaming also evolves based on its history. Some of it will be repeated, and some of it won’t. But there will always be someone to remember it.

About The Author
Nick Pinkerton
  • Michael

    I have already tried the Dead Island mod tool 1.9 but it didn’t work. I am using Logan if that matters.
    I need to lower my level because I want the skill points but I want to be level 2.

  • Mistry

    When your attacked by a zombie on dead island and it says “time to recover” how do you recover? I have 9 mealies but don’t know how to use them in the downed state can someone tell me how please?

  • Harriet W

    Can someone please please help me, I am a 14 year old boy and just under the age limit to get Dead Island myself and I tried to convince my parents to get if for me. I have to money but they won’t let me. Someone please help me. Thanks.

  • Sonny

    Dead Island is in a different setting, is in first person, has fast zombies, has coop, and foar characters

  • Kobe

    I’m at my sisters house and she has xbox live, we want to play dead island, 2 players like we do on left for dead 2. Can i play split screen online or offline with my sister?

  • Moore, Ron

    I beat dead island at a level 42. If i start over, will I still be?

  • Xavier Hawthorne

    Dead island, survival tree please help. I have saved points scared to use because no idea how well It heals I have drunkin master so it would be nice if it healed me a lot while drunk

  • Keaton

    Portal 2 had a free download off Steam. Is Dead Island on Steam and allowing this feature too?

  • stephen m

    In Dead Island, city of Moresby, near the water pump station, I keep seeing “enemy to kill” skulls on my minimap. My girlfriend and I assume they are on the roof, but we have no clue how to get to them. Can anyone help? Maps or videos would be greatly appreciated.

  • Nick

    When i start playing dead island and i click new game it says

    Your gamer profile does not have the
    correct permissions to access
    Xbox LIVE functionality.Please
    change your game type in the online
    preferences menu.

    What do that mean?Please help.

  • fattiemanny

    Im looking for a new zombie game and after a little research iv heard that Dead island is good but id like to hear it compared to some other games, maybe like resident evil,dead space, COD zombies, etc.

  • x_blind_x_gamer_x

    I heard good reviews about both games from friends. I played the first to Gears games and enjoyed them. How is Dead Island? it looks neat from what i seen on gameplay vids and the trailer.

  • Caltel T

    My friend and I play dead island but he gets about half the money and experience as me, the only difference is that I have live so I can play with other people and he doesn’t, but I only play solo. Any suggestions?

  • Travoiz

    Got the game yesterday with the purpose of playing with the misses in the comfort of our home so got dead island coz it had in the green writting that you can have 2-4 players without system link or going online, but cant find the option to do this, are we missing something before i take it back coz the info on the box is wrong and in contradiction of trading standards? Help us……

  • supernerd567

    Because I have a friend who wanted to play dead island with me but I dont know how to add a second player to Dead island with me. Can I? Yes or no? O.o I am very lost!

  • evil chevy

    Me and 2 of my friends r trying to play dead island together and me and one of my friends can connect to the other but we can’t connect to each other why is that? We have tried it before bu it won’t let us, my other friend can connect to both of us but we can’t connect, is it an update or are connection?

  • Armas

    In the xbox game Dead Island, what happens if you didn’t take the antidote (in the lab) when you go to the prison island?

  • morbiusdog

    These codes have seem to become the trend, so I’m wondering if Dead Island needs one.

  • lildevilgurl152004

    Ok, so a ton of people play dead island and have like, 2,000 shotgun rounds. Can anyone tell me how to do it?

  • Sophia C

    I can’t figure out how to start a co-op match on dead island. Is it multiplayer only? Help please.

  • NC Baller

    I have a dead Island disc but it has stopped working at the same spot and I want to try to use it on my hard drive so I don’t need the disc to play can I download the disc data to my hard drive if so then how do I do it?

  • Dark_LovexXx

    I bought dead island and its really boring. How much can i get at gamestop if i want to put it towards gears of war 3?

  • thinkthought

    How can I download non torrent versions of Dead Island, and both Resident Evil 5 and Operation Raccoon City for free?
    Oh it is on PC I forgot to mention that…

  • gail C

    I just downloaded Dead Island from the Xbox Marketplace. I do not have a gold membership, but other people connected to my game via Xbox Live, and the game gave me the option to join other people’s games. I checked, and I DO NOT have Xbox Live Gold.
    I am not using XLink Kai, so I still don’t understand how people are in my game…

  • Milk84

    So,dead island popped out of nowhere,and everyone is like OMG THE BEST GAME EVER without it being a sequel or being released yet. Why did it get hyped so fast without being a sequel?