I’m not a big gamer, I have a Wii and a PlayStation 2 gathering dust somewhere. But even I can sense a shift in the gaming environment.
Being (just) the youthful side of 40, I’ve grown up seeing games develop from the stick and square ball of Pong on my Grandstand TV Game 2000 in the late 70s, through Manic Miner in the 80s, into the world of Mario and all things SNES in the 90s – up until the almost life-like XBox 360 titles I’ve seen the “young folk” play with.
Visually and audibly games have got better. Comparing the latest version of “Halo” with “Pong“, it’s hard to believe things have moved-on so quickly. But, in terms of game play? Yes the XBox 360 and PS3 have amazing graphics and high-quality surround sound but it often feels like the ‘fun’ element of gaming has been forgotten in the incessant battle to make things bigger, faster, louder, brighter.
When Nintendo decided to attract casual gamers back to consoles, it put graphics to one side and concentrated on fun; and the Wii has been a runaway success. Similarly, the Nintendo DS has got ‘em young, and there’s few pre-teens that aren’t packing their dual-screened buddy.
And now, it seems, the iPad and iPhone could be the latest games platform to bring the fun back into gaming. And possibly replace the standalone consoles altogether.
The new iPad is, in essence, twice as powerful as its predecessor. Its graphic capabilities are – so Apple says – 9x better than the original. Because it has a gyroscope and an accelerometer, the whole device becomes almost a Wiimote in its own right, with the separation of action and reaction on screen completely removed. Move the iPad and the game responds to your actions. It doesn’t get more interactive than that.
And with the ability to have the iPads display ‘mirrored‘ on a big screen TV – who needs another game system?
Angry Birds is the most-popular game on iOS (which powers the iPhone and iPad), having been downloaded approximately 50 million times (*) since it was released in December 2009 . The gameplay isn’t revolutionary. The graphics and sound will never will awards. But it’s fun and incredibly addictive.
And it costs 59p.
How much is the average PS3 or XBox 360 game? £40? £50?
Which one are you most-likely to take a risk on? A game that costs the same as a Mars bar – or one that costs the equivalent of a good night out? (**)
According to Donald Mustard, creative director at game developer Chair Entertainment, in terms of the iPad’s graphical capabilities: “we’re about two years away from surpassing consoles”
So, in 2013, will your videogame joy be brought to you by Sony? Microsoft? Or Apple (with maybe a little Android love thrown in) ?
It’s easy to see the way the tide is turning. The fun’s coming back to games. And not before time.
* This also includes downloads for Android-based systems but, like iOS ones, as they develop I believe they’ll become the games consoles of tomorrow, so let’s not let minor facts get in the way of a good story!
** I’m a cheap date, what can I say.