Many years ago, around perhaps 2006 or so, there was a real slump in gaming. Looking back it’s fairly obvious as to why, even if it was lost on me at the time.

The previous generation of video game consoles had many excellent games but really didn’t compete on an even playing field with Windows PCs. For example 2004 saw Doom 3, The Sims 2, Far Cry, and Half Life 2 released. There were plenty of good games for home consoles, certainly, and many of the aforementioned titles were later ported to them, but the PC was head and shoulders above them.Doom3-726x248

Then in late 2005 the Xbox 360 was released and changed things.

I’m not suggesting it suddenly made things better, it’s more that it changed the playing field. On the one hand its better hardware allowed home console games to begin competing with Windows PCs. That said, on the other hand, as with any console, it took quite some time for developers to “get the hang of” the hardware meaning that launch games weren’t anything all that special.

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Its direct competitor, Sony’s Playstation 3, didn’t launch until the end of 2006/first quarter of 2007. In the meantime this meant that there was a mix of Windows, 360, Game Cube, PS2, and so forth. A real mess.

Why would anyone choose to launch any games around then?

Come 2007 and things were starting to get fun again as there was a stable set of platforms to work from. In the meantime though, ugh.

I raise this as I’m conflicted. On the one hand I don’t recall a time when I’ve been so excited about game development. The rise of crowdfunding, the Unity engine, social media empowering developers to see how people play and what they enjoy… It’s exciting stuff.

That said the PS4 is coming relatively soon and Microsoft’s offering probably isn’t far off either. What’s that going to do to the established playing field? Will there be another few years while the transition happens?

I don’t know the answer, but it’s nice to have a bit of an emotional stake in a console war again, even if this time I’m not on the side of anyone but myself.

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