The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games is the previous 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 already 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 (in Britain, there was a bizarre and weirdly durable Urban Legend pre-release that it was to feature a toastie-machine), 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 (and some still do to this day). 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 based on last generation hardware (like the TurboGrafx-16 in the Sixteen Bit Era), and it couldn't even output in HD resolution. It's hardware was simply updated from the GameCube's chip set with a few other things. 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 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. On the other side of the handheld arena, Sony released the Playstation Portable a.k.a. the PSP handheld device in 2004 as well. Attempting to use the device as not only a powerful gaming machine but a complete multimedia device capable of playing not only Sony's new heavily invested UMD format but MP3, digital video, etc. The device had healthy hardware sales early on but was outpaced by the DS, the UMD format failed to expand as digital downloads for movie media also began to rise. It achieved strong success, primarily in Japan however thanks in no small part to the new phenomenon that was the Monster Hunter series and various other Japanese developers and publishers finding the device the perfect home for several titles. While the PSP never beat the DS worldwide toward the end of the DS's life cycle it began to match and beat the Nintendo handheld within the Japanese market. The success of the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS also proved to be a turning point in the Japanese market as most of Japan's smaller publishers and developers began focusing on the handheld market rather then the main consoles. Another phenomenon was the arrival of casual video games now becoming family game night events, much in the same way card games and other family games were for earlier generations. This represented a true turning point in the history of video games and entertainment as a whole- a ghetto had begun being torn down, and videogames- once seen as toy-like novelties for children or Murder Simulators- were finally gaining mainstream acceptance. Despite pulling in a larger crowd than video games ever had before, "hardcore" gamers have eschewed these casual games and the systems have largely been panned by this audience, [[Hate Dumb believing the increased focus on casual games to have allowed the industry to decay.]] However, 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, especially but not exclusive to those who were met with crushing polygon ceilings, 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 Little Big Planet. 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 occasional WiiWare releases for games less than 40 MB. With indie game's massive success returns the notion that individuals or small groups of developers can create quality hit games, something that, ever since the 3rd generation of video game consoles, had become all but impossible. 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. It is during this generation of games that video games transcended a niche or 'geek' market for teenage boys and young men and became a mainstream, global phenomenon bringing whole families together, bringing in a massive female audience, and tearing down many pre-assumed stereotypes about games and gamer culture, especially as gamer culture itself became pop culture. Video games, for the first time, were now a media that could be discussed in common conversation, or seriously debated, with fans and followers in as much earnest as any movie or TV phenomenon. Controversies continue to rage, with Moral Guardians continuing an argument that has persisted since the 2nd generation of games, but with added ammo that the sheer realism- and very realistic violence- of many titles such as Call of Duty and Gears of War, claiming that they were prominent causes of major acts of violence, such as the Virginia Tech, Colorado movie theatre, and Newtown shootings. Despite this, casual games have exploded in popularity so massively that game developers have yet to fully understand the market themselves. And thanks to motion control allowing for sports, dancing, and aerobics and forcing players to experience a workout in order to play, the Wii, Kinect, and Playstation Move have been applauded by many for their fitness potential, which, thanks to the obesity panic in the United States and a culture becoming increasingly dedicated to fitness, became one of the largest markets in the video game industry. They have also brought in a substantial female audience, who were, beforehand, mostly ignored by the male-dominated market with clearly defined 'girl games' having the stigma of either being overly easy, overly feminist, or overly girly, and rarely achieved anything resembling critical or commercial success. At first, most non-gamer women were drawn towards the casual games especially since many were marketed towards women concerned with their fitness or towards women with no prior gaming experience, but their introduction to video games have since led many to become hardcore/semi-hardcore gamers, and their added presence as a video gaming demographic is sure to affect future decisions by companies while also tearing down many prejudices about women's relationship to video games. Also during this generation was the arrival of video game releases becoming major events on par with major album and movie blockbusters. Although the concept of camping out to wait for a game release had already begun in previous generations, it reached major levels during these years, with some releases, such as Halo3, Halo4, and Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 even being reminiscent of a Beatles release. 1st day and 1st week game sales became so great that even movies and albums were being affected by game releases. The success of Casual Games and Indie Games on mobile devices, and mobile devices themselves growing in power, has also led to a sea change grunge-moment in the video game industry. For the first time, games of nearly any bit quality can be played on portable consoles, and the quality of portable games have begun to close a gameplay and graphical gap that has long existed and prevented console games from having authentic handheld releases. And with mobile phone games, many video games have become casual distractions. With the advent of the Wii U by Nintendo, the PS 4 from Sony, and new, not-yet-officially-named console on the horizon from Microsoft, it is likely that this generation is winding down, and The Eighth Generation Of Console Video Games has begun. The Other Wiki considers the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS, Sony and Nintendo's most-recent handheld consoles (respectively), part of the 8th generation as well.
Consoles of this generation
Handhelds of this generation
New franchises on these consoles
Games of old franchises