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Looking Forward: What Next Gen Can Learn From The Current Console Generation

It is a great time to be a gamer. This current generation of consoles are leaps and bounds ahead of previous years so, when people ask me what my favourite console ever is, I have to take off my rose tinted glasses and say that PS4 is my favourite console ever. 

This may be in due part to now being a fully-fledged adult (something I think is still very debatable) with a job and such. I have been fortunate enough to buy games regularly so have reaped the benefits of having lots of different and unique experiences. I have had some of the best gaming moments of my career this generation. From finally being able to reliably connect with my friends online to gaping in awe at a game as beautiful as Horizon Zero Dawn.

The gaming landscape has changed significantly this generation. There are, however, certain things that the next generation needs to avoid. Some of these things have been commonplace this generation and I hope that going forward lessons have been learnt by some of the more baffling modern day gaming trends.

Below are some of things that I hope developers will be addressing in the next generation of gaming.

Patches / updates
The ability for a game to be patched post-launch is generally a good thing. In the past, this would be unthinkable and yet it remains a very contentious issue. Sometimes I feel that developers lean too heavily on the ability to patch a game post-launch rather than get it right day one. There have been some very high profile games that have been shipped with game breaking issues. Driveclub is a game that really springs to mind. I got this game a few months after release and then saw a 13GB patch come storming into my PS4. I was lucky enough to have a decent internet connection but if you were to be less fortunate then this would be a huge issue. 

I understand that making games is incredibly complex, more complex than ever before, and sometimes ambition gets the better of studios so of course there will always be unforeseen issues. I guess the bottom line is that developers need to make sure that their game is playable without a patch before shipping. Any other extras they want to throw on top is great but, please, release the game when it is good and ready.

Announcing games too early
How many times have we seen high profile games get announced only to be delayed or even cancelled mere months before release? I would be so bold as saying that it has happened this generation more than any other. The Fallout 4 model was perfect: they announced the game when they knew they could hit a close release window. I personally get so sick of games getting announced with no date.

I get it, gaming is a huge business with investors, shareholders and competition so announcing a huge AAA exclusive game to light a fire under the competitors makes sense. Sony have been bad at this and has repeatedly delayed games probably because they wanted to grab headlines at E3 (No Man’s Sky, The Last Guardian, The Order 1866 and Death Standing are prime examples of a game being promoted far too early). I just hope that we can get to a place where delays are no longer common. I just want there to less of a trigger happy culture. 
Lack of content / DLC
There have been so many games that have felt like they are lacking content - Star Wars Battlefront is basically the poster child for this. It’s the same old thing: a game comes out with what? no story mode? You only get a handful of maps? You then realise that all the content is packed into the DLC that will be another £30 - £40 quid to spend. 

This kind of sucks. I am not against DLC; I actually think it is an okay model depending on how it is used. The problem arises when you feel you are being ripped off, for example, Battlefront with the DLC season pass would have set you back £85 on day one! Granted that the price has plummeted but that is not a great way to bold a fan base or community. Some developers give their DLC away for free which is a masterstroke in getting players back into your game after a year or so of dropping off. Overwatch is a great example of this and the community is very strong because of all the support the game gets. It is also a fantastic shooter. 

Micro-transactions are the worst. There are time they they are less offensive such as items that don’t affect the overall game such as skins and collectables; these are fine. I think when implemented effectively micro-transactions can give developers easy income and can afford gamers something they want but sometimes they can really be annoying, you scroll through an inventory and you see a good gun you want only to realise that you have to buy it in store.

Physical media still matters
We hear the same old thing every time a new system launches. Rumours swirl about it being online only and ‘ditching the disc’. The vast majority of gamers still have trouble with the internet and last time I checked, AAA games were not exactly small to download. Some people have bandwidth limitations and the UK’s infrastructure is simply not good enough to guarantee internet for all. 

Things are getting better with more investment but we are a huge way off going fully digital. Call me a luddite but I do really like having the disc, and like the fact I can trade it in or lend to friends. I am not much of a collector but I do enjoy seeing all my games stacked up. 

And what about competition driving prices down for the consumers? I am not a fan of GAME but it is important for parents that haven't a clue about gaming to walk in and get what they want after speaking to someone. Would high street game retail die? Would Game / CEX be able to deliver online stores to the new consoles? I doubt this as Sony / Microsoft would not want retailers to undercut them. 

I don’t care what kind of physical media we have in the future (discs are a bit out of date now) but I do hope that the two big platform holders follow Nintendo’s lead and stick with physical media.

So what do you think? Agree with this? What do you want to see out of the next wave of hardware?

Jake Buchanan | @hdd_heart

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