The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games
Describes the current generation of consoles + index of games of this era.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-07 17:33:17 sponsor: WaxingName (last reply: 2012-10-24 17:03:58)

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The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games is the current generation of video games by the time of this writing, and a time of both revolution in new areas and an evolution of old elements.

Ahead of the competition by a year, the first to launch a console in this generation was Microsoft with the Xbox 360. While it wasn't the first console with the ability to output in HD resolution (The PS2 and Xbox had that ability), it was the first console with HD as a standard for games. It also kept the PC-based architecture of its predecessor, making it easy to develop for. Unfortunately, the early launch was plagued with hardware issues, most infamously the "red ring of death". The next year, Sony's PlayStation 3 saw a release. The PlayStation 3 was marketed more or less as a household supercomputer, as it was manufactured with cutting-edge technology like the Cell processor and the very high-capacity Blu-ray format. The latter was actually put in as a push for the Blu-ray format, since there was still competition as to what the standard high-capacity optical disc would be. Indeed Sony's executives outright said that the success of the PlayStation 3 and the Blu-ray format were dependent on each other. However, the high-tech hardware came with a hefty cost, as the console was released with the infamously high price of $600, and many studios found the hardware very difficult and expensive to make games for. Despite early launch issues, both HD consoles did drum up excitement for what could be done on these powerful machines.

The company that had much different attention than Microsoft and Sony was Nintendo. In the sixth generation, the Nintendo GameCube fell behind the PS2 and Xbox in the Console Wars. Many thought that Nintendo would either quit the console business and go third party like Sega, Hudson Soft, and Atari did before, or that Nintendo's own entry into the Console Wars would simply be like the others yet fail due to their "kiddie" reputation. Instead, Nintendo did something completely different.

Released within about a week of the PS3, the Wii was indeed completely different from its competition. Its hardware was a generation behind the competition, and it couldn't even output in HD resolution. Its hardware was actually the same as the GameCube's slightly sped up. But that wasn't the big thing that made it different. That was its very unconventional controller. It was shaped like a television remote and it had the ability to use motion as a form of input to the console. The Wii then managed to become much more commercially successful than its competitors.

The Wii's success led to a new era in the realm of Casual Games. Before then, casual games were confined to the PC, with PopCap Games controlling that department, and the mobile phone, where the games were very simplistic. The Wii's low price and low learning curve towards its games led to it becoming commercially successful towards people who don't regularly play video games, which turned out to be a large percentage of the world's population. The motion control was revolutionary in that moving the controller around was much easier to learn than knowing where all of the controller's buttons were and using each of them for a specific function. Because of this the competition followed its lead. Microsoft introduced the Kinect add-on to the 360, which allowed a no-hands approach to motion control (similar to the Eye Toy for the PS2), and it became very successful for its even greater simplicity to control. Sony introduced the PlayStation Move to the PS3, which garnered much critical acclaim for its greater depth of control than either of the competition, but didn't quite capture the attention of consumers as much because its appearance was suspiciously similar to that of the Wii Remote and Nunchuck.

Another realm where casual games became massively successful turned out to be the handheld market. The Nintendo DS, which was released in 2004 was named the "Developer's System"[[note]]This is where the name "DS" comes from, not "dual screen"[[/note]] in hope that it would inspire innovative design from developers. It managed to gain widespread popularity among casual gamers for the simplicity of games controlled by simply using the touchscreen, as well as earning the appeal of traditional gamers for its traditional controller setup. The DS's success foreshadowed the success of games in the smartphone and tablet market. Not only was the iOS easy to develop for, but is was powerful enough that it could support a variety of games. The success of iOS games led to many other smartphones getting their own libraries of games and the rise of smartphones as a viable gaming device.

Developers of "hardcore" games, as they came to be called during this era, carried on with their traditional work, mostly unaffected by the success of the casual market. These developers, who felt that more power would better showcase the evolution of their work, tended to prefer the HD duo to the Wii, so most big-name third-party games ended up on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Many trends set during sixth generation would be taken to higher levels in this generation. This generation marked a visible "merging" between the console and the PC mediums. Prior, the history of PC gaming was mostly separate from the history of console gaming due to power and capability differences. In this generation, Multi-Platform games shared between the PS3, 360, and PC became very common. Related to this, most of the third-party libraries of the PS3 and 360 were shared, whereas there were a good number of third-party exclusives in previous generations. Also, continuing the trend of darker games, M-rated games dominated the core market, with rare T-rated and even rarer E-rated games only occasionally coming through.

In previous generations, eastern-developed games made the bulk of the market and generally outsold western games worldwide. This generation is notable in that western developers dominated the worldwide video game market. Because of this, western-oriented genres like the First-Person Shooter and Western RPG gained much popularity in this generation. In the previous generation, the Halo franchise popularized the FPS genre and led to an influx of developers wanting to capitalize on its success. This FPS craze became very apparent in this generation, but the Call of Duty series made the genre even more popular and outshone Halo, particularly after Modern Warfare hit the scene. The Western RPG genre was already quite popular on the PC, but several console releases of WRPGs lead it to becoming a phenomenon on consoles. BioWare in particular spearheaded the increased popularity of WRPGs, especially with the Mass Effect franchise which reconstructed the Space Opera in the vein of Star Wars for a new generation. The popularity of both genres contributed to the rise of western developers in this generation.

An interesting genre development in this era was the surprising resurgence of the 2D Platform Game. It was a genre that went by the wayside by the time of the fifth generation due to the more open polygonal worlds. However, Nintendo revived the genre's popularity with the release of New Super Mario Bros., which overjoyed fans who wanted a new 2D Mario game last generation. This sparked a movement of classic franchises returning to their roots such as Sonic the Hedgehog with Sonic 4 and Mega Man with Mega Man 9. NSMB's influence also lead to a good number of original IPs of 2D platformers such as LittleBigPlanet.

Also, the presence of Street Fighter IV as well as the new IP, BlazBlue caused a resurgence in the 2D Fighting Game genre's popularity. Like 2D platformers, it was thought to have been fallen by the wayside due to the presence of more "modern" 3D fighters such as Virtua Fighter and Tekken. Many other games followed this resurgence like Mortal Kombat 9, which restored credibility to a franchise that had long fallen to the Polygon Ceiling, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Somewhat related to both the casual and hardcore market was the rise of indie games. Big-name publishers have started to support games made by very small development teams. These games included Braid, Minecraft, Bastion, and Geometry Wars among countless others. These games were mainly released on the PSN, XBLA, and Steam, with occassional WiiWare releases for games less than 40 MB.

The way consoles were marketed changed in this generation. The 360 and PS3 were not marketed as game consoles, because they did more than just play games. They were instead marketed as multimedia entertainment centers that could play music, play movies, browse the web, and do much more than just play video games. The Wii seemed to be the only console marketed for the ability to play games, but even it adopted some multimedia capabilities with its web browser and Netflix integration.

Please namespace every entry on this page; it's going to be an index.

[[index]]

Consoles of this generation

Handhelds of this generation

New IPs on these consoles

Games of old IPs

[[/index]]
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