It seems like only yesterday that the upcoming and highly anticipated release of the supposedly groundbreaking new Xbox Series X was announced. By that timeframe, of course, the amount of time that has passed between its public release and this very moment is nothing more than a blink of eye. It is, however, certainly unlikely to feel that way to those who are still trying to get their hands on the console – or, indeed, to Microsoft themselves, who have been floundering against a tide of demand since autumn 2020.
It is true that what was once (and still so recently) billed to be the new generation of gaming is merely trickling bit by bit – or console by console – into our lives. So many continue to feel glued to stock updates, Twitter pages or, really, anything that offers even a modicum of hope that restocks are forthcoming.
And, sadly, the significant flaw in Sony and Microsoft’s plans has been revealed – the fact that, in this day and age, consumers want instantaneous access. It is, after all, what the new consoles promise to bring with them: an end to waiting, loading, buffering and wasted time.
Besides, as consumers, we are more accustomed to instant access than ever before. Downloadable content has already taken over the physical disc, for the most part, and cloud gaming now enables us to bypass the physical hardware altogether.
With those nameless servers capable of carrying the burden of the games, and the PC and the mobile capable of offering the ideal platforms on which to play them, can console-based gaming continue to lead the industry? Read more below.
The consoles have never quite been able to capture the market in the way that their developers may have wanted them to. The PC has always offered its own unique abilities – abilities that, to varying degrees, trickle over onto the mobile and ensure a well-rounded, portable gaming experience that, in many ways, represents the prototype for cloud-based gaming.
Genre-leading developers like Blizzard, GGPoker.co.uk and InnerSloth LLC have long since mastered the trials of creating cross-platform titles. The result is the upmost convenience for players – and, of course, the ability for these developers to maintain an incredibly strong level of visibility among their players, whether they are at home or merely have ten minutes to spare on the commute.
Mobile and PC, then, arguably hold the most enviable position in our day to day lives. They are not quite so limiting as the console, which is growing increasingly bulky and, of course, tethered to the home television.
The Rise of DLC
In the summer of 2020, industry critics’ suspicions that downloadable content (DLC) was on its way to quashing physical disk sales came to fruition when multiple Triple-A developers, including EA, revealed that more than half of their sales came via digital channels. What this means is that we are closer to the digital future of gaming than we are to its physical past, and that the change is occurring must faster than some said it would.
Of course, many of these digital downloads are occurring on consoles – whether digital versions, or those still featuring a disc-drive – but many are occurring on other platforms, such as mobile and PC. The difference is that mobile and PC are preparing to rival the console more than ever before, and they boast better convenience and, often, more competitive price points. More damning still is the fact that, for many, the high promise of a new generation of gaming has been met by a console that is not quite game-changing enough to meet expectations.
The new generation of console gaming is settling in – albeit more gradually than many of us would have liked. It is, without a doubt, here to stay for the near future, and won’t be nullified by cloud gaming and other platforms all at once. There are, however, those who can already envision its end – and this is only expedited by what amounts to a very old fashioned struggle to meet with consumer demand.