2011: The current console cycle’s sweet spot

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Just because the mainstream media isn’t reporting on some latest craze in the video-game industry  – outside of the astronomical sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 — doesn’t mean that things aren’t good right now. In fact, I believe that we’re in the middle of a perfect storm for hardcore gamers.

No brand-new consoles this winter means no mad holiday rush for the “it” item and no depressing price gouging on eBay. Do you remember debating whether or not a having Wii in time for December 25, 2006 was worth $450 (as opposed to the original $250 sticker price)?

According to the latest rumors, Wii-U might be out in time for the 2012 holidays, “Xbox 720” could be around the corner as well, and an unnamed, supposedly important development team owned by Sony is already shifting gears to start making a PlayStation 4 title. But that’s all speculation. For now, we have the current generation in full swing and no impulse to cough up a week’s worth of pay just to keep up with the Joneses.

At a time when plenty of people in the industry want to take it in several different directions (including, but not limited to: mobile phones, Internet browsers, casual, indie, 3D, and social-networks), I’m actually excited for some console sequels. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and its one-to-one Wii-Remote-to-sword controls looks like more fun than you can shake a stick at. I’m intrigued by the prospect of easily spending more time in the expansive universe of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim than in the real world. And any night I want to saw my friends in half with a chainsaw, all I have to do is boot up Gears of War 3.


I’m particularly grateful to not have pricey motion-control and music peripherals shoved in my face when planning my Christmas shopping…and wish list. With the vast majority of this year’s hits, players use each console’s standard controller (I’ll give Zelda and the required Wii MotionPlus a pass), which is the method of choice for core gamers.

Skyward Sword

These are the same people who at times this past year might have felt marginalized in their own hobby. We all had a nice laugh at the notion that recently deceased Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs and the iPhone had some of the biggest impacts on the video-game industry. But how true is that as a sign of things to come? Though those two things aren’t directly related to traditional gaming, they did help to usher in millions of casual fans. Angry Birds, anyone?

If the industry does shift more towards mobile and social-networking experiences, that would undoubtedly change the way we play. But for now, hardcore gamers are safe, and 2011 is dedicated to them — err, us.

At some point between now and the end of the year, I recommend taking a moment to pause and appreciate everything we’ve got. After all, all signs point to the world ending before we reach the 2012 holiday season, and then we’ll never even get to see what the next generation looks like. So let’s live it up. Oh, and don’t forget to tell your loved ones how much you care about them and all that yadda yadda yadda.

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