Is It Time To Leave The Last Gen Behind?
It’s 2014 and the announcements of new next gen titles are rolling out nearly each week. Recently, Assassin’s Creed Unity was confirmed to be a next gen only game, set during the French Revolution and featuring a new Assassin. Rocksteady also announced that their newest game, Batman Arkham Knight, would be a next gen only open world Batman game, allowing you to use the Batmobile for the first time. Other titles such as The Division and The Witcher 3 have already been confirmed to be next gen only, however we probably won’t see either of these this year. As we get further into the next gen, developers are beginning to push the emphasis of the next gen version of their games, or in the cases recently, develop solely for next gen. The majority of the triple A game companies are beginning to embark off the last gen train and head towards the future with new titles and new technology. Is it time to leave the last gen behind?
Massive Entertainment previously showed us the power of the Snowdrop engine during GDC 2014, demonstrating how a solid focus on next gen development can yield marvelous results. The engine is immaculate, producing textures and visuals that can truly be considered ‘next gen’, even compared to other games currently on the market. It can be argued that developers that still make games for current gen alongside the next gen versions aren’t focusing all their time and resources into making the next gen version as good as possible. Some developers have chosen to let others studios handle the last gen port, such as Respawn Entertainment tasking Bluepoint Games with the development of the 360 version of Titanfall. There might be a possibility of this becoming a trend for the next couple of years, as it could allow for developers to focus their main team on the next gen version and let a separate studio handle the port, though this could be problematic for its own reasons. EA has already had to stagger the release date of Titanfall’s 360 version by 2 weeks, twice, in order to give Bluepoint Games ‘more time’. The problem with having a separate studio handle a big game is the chances of delays such as this one, however delays aren’t always a bad thing, especially if the finished product is good.
Many gamers aren’t all that enthusiastic about making the jump to next gen just yet. If the next gen hardware race wasn’t already an issue, then the recent resolutiongate debate is. Consumers don’t feel like shelling out a large sum of money for consoles that, they feel, can’t even handle a certain standard of quality. While a lot of the games coming out are promising stellar visuals and amazing presentation, with the usual ‘1080p and 60fps’ tagline, a lot of people aren’t buying it, primarily because they have been let down so far. Even if some players aren’t bothered by the resolution, the pricing of the next gen consoles is still something to be considered, with the PS4 holding a lead in that department. A lot of gamers feel that there’s a severe post-launch drought on both consoles regardless and it’s leading them to feel very anxious for good titles to come out. This has been mitigated somewhat by the release of HD ports of current gen titles, such as Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, though how long people will be satisfied with that is uncertain. For a lot of people, they just aren’t ready to make the jump and if developers want to abandon last gen development, this is the first thing to consider.
On the other hand, the possibilities that next gen can accomplish also beg to be payed attention to. Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Knight is already shaping up to be impressive from the few screenshots they have released so far and the inevitable release of Halo 5 has got Xbox fans in high spirits. While development of current gen titles and multiplatform ports will still go on for a long time, many gamers wonder when the cut off point is. It would have to be at a time when the price of the next gen consoles is reasonable enough and there are enough available games to justify the move to next gen. Triple A development has a new set of tools at their disposal and they could truly begin to wow the gaming public even more than before. With the arrival of a new generation of hardware is the arrival of endless avenues for innovation and storytelling. As it stands now, game development is severely limited by the aging consoles and developers can only do so much, even though games like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V are amazing examples of what they can still do. Game companies know that gamers aren’t quite ready to let go of their old consoles quite yet but in time the move will happen, but maybe just not right now.
So what do you think? Is it time to leave the last gen behind and focus purely on creating hit next gen titles? Will you still buy games for your Xbox 360 or PS3? Let us know in the comments.