Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

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Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

Post by Ludovsky » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:52 am

(Apologies if this post is a bit all over the place, since I wrote it almost at the same time than I was finding myself musing about all this)

Been randomly musing about this lately but over a couple of generations it feels like the "consoles arms race" has always been one of constantly pushing the "bleeding edge"-est games, at the cost of ever rising development cost(and similar pressures on PC, especially with the hardcore constantly boasting about their PC's ability to "push higher resolutions than consoles... whilst not talking about the price-point behind that).

This kind of reminded me lately about Mecron's past point about feeling like the game industry may be heading to a breaking point where "something's gotta give"(which was also in regard to Steam sales and pricing, but that was also in how this tied to comparison with the cost of game development if I recall. Feel free to correct me!).

To a degree I'm wondering if the Switch's success, to a degree, is not a result or hint of this breaking point being approached. Specifically that such a "middleware" console(when compared to it's competition) seems to be having such successes... and that it might seem able to carry it for at least a bit.

But I think it's also in comparison of seeing the other two console manufacturers which, after 4 years in the current console generation started in 2012(iirc), basically.... just released stronger versions of the very same consoles they were already selling. And to a degree this make me wonder if we're indeed approaching the point where "something has to give" since it feels almost as if the "hardware/horsepower race" approach is starting to run out of steam.
Especially since at this rate(though it might be just me) it feels like Sony and Microsoft might just as well go flat out and release "gaming PC" that are simply chassis with built-in structure to swap in and out "component boards" of already pre-selected graphic cards/processors/motherboards/etc combinations so they could simply release new boards instead of dealing with the cost of developing a new console proper, especially when the current selection for Sony is between a PS4 and a PS4... "Pro".

But I'm also seeing how some games seem to sells on the Switch for higher prices than, say, their Steam version(that's often on sales to boot) yet still apparently end up selling more units than the "cheaper" editions.

So I'm wondering if we're not also getting to that point where players are indeed starting to reach the point where they're ready to pay a larger sum for a single game they know they'll complete than buy bundles of games on sales that they'll know they might never even open once.

I know there's likely a lot of other factors at play, but at the same time I'm wondering if we're not about to see a potential turning point in the gaming industry(though it's too early to say).
At least, to a degree... I often see people that were talking about the "weaker" hardware of the Switch yet seeing the success of even DOOM/Skyrim on it sofar I wonder how much of it matters at all.
Or even, I wonder if that "weaker" hardware might not end up being a blessing in disguise for segments of the industry, in the ways it seem to bucks the trend of ever pushing for more horsepower that often resulted in ever rising game development costs just to meet the price of the "graphics tax" almost.
Especially considering the ways where developers don't have to cover "mandatory" motion controls or figuring what to do with an handheld screen of a gamepad unlike previous Nintendo consoles(which ironically, despite all the big deal about it's "hybrid nature" gimmick, perhaps make it the more "traditional" Nintendo console in a very long while?).

If that trend can continue, where segments of the industry can achieve major success without having to pursue HDR and 4K Textures... I can't help but wonder what the future may be like in gaming.

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Re: Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

Post by Rossinna-Sama » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:31 am

Nintendo do a good job of doing things which allow a wider audience to not only experience but to play their games. A true example that I myself went through earlier this year: do I get a Switch or PS4 (Xbox one was never in contention)?

The answer turned out to be the Switch for two main reasons, the first being that for the most part the games do have ways to allow younger kids to play them - Assist Mode in Odyssey is a good example of that - while usually having enough information that with only a little help, even disabled kids can play them.

The second part was, well, at that point I was supposed to be getting ready to return to studies (which didn't happen) and since my travel time is so long compared to the amount of free time I have when I got home (Roughly an hour before I had to get to sleep), the fact that I could take the Switch with me was good enough.

This all said, I did and still do hold concern over the console; justifying its purchase with such a small game library especially at launch was not an easy thing to do. Fully expected the console to be a failure and that seemed to be justified when people noted the console was warping; albeit that apparently was due to poorly designed carry cases. For the record, mine hasn't warped.

There's also one other thing which pushed me into buying it - the games Nintendo tend to offer have no real counterparts on the PC platform where Sony\MS have little excuse for not putting their stuff on the PC. I would not like to try playing a game like Mario Party on a PC after all. :googly:

Now if only Nintendo didn't have such a poor business outlook when it comes to Youtube, Twitch and didn't vastly overprice the controller hardware... but ohh well.
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Re: Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

Post by Ivan Green » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:55 am

Well gaming was never about HD or 4K. They just need to be fun to play. The thing that harms and helps gaming most is the fans. Usually the internet creates illogical negativity around random gaming products. I was told "by internet reviews and "fans" of the series" that Sonic Forces would be absolutely terrible. Because of physics or something. It wasn't and I enjoy it a lot.

I also think the "surprise" success of the switch comes from one of the negative echo chambers.

When game companies crash in the future indie game companies will become a little more popular. And gaming news media will write stories on how you could see this coming from a mile away. Actually I think a few have already crashed and no one noticed. Like that VR thing.

I had more to say, but I ramble, and forgot.

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Re: Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

Post by Slashman » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:52 pm

Somewhere along the line, the "big heads" in gaming forgot what designing and budgeting a game around a reasonable target audience means. Greed is a great corrupter.

I don't know if there will ever be the big crash that some were predicting, but the wrong hints always seem to be taken away from any failed game.

The largest of the game publishers have enough resources and cash to continue doing the wrong things until they hit on a successful formula (sustainable or not). Then they hold that formula up as the blueprint to follow. Milk it until it dies and then keep trying again. Kill studios off and fire people in large numbers as needed to 'streamline' the process.

When will it end? Who knows. Maybe gamers will wise up and stop buying every 'AAA blockbuster' just because marketing told them it is the cool thing to do. I doubt it though.
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Re: Thoughts on the Switch: a possible return of successful "middleware" games?

Post by Cpt. Awesome » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:45 pm

Slashman wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:52 pm
When will it end? Who knows. Maybe gamers will wise up and stop buying every 'AAA blockbuster' just because marketing told them it is the cool thing to do. I doubt it though.
There is always the next cohort of gamers aging into "AAA blockbuster" games each year. Gotta remember that Assassin's creed 17 is the first one they played, so there is zero fatigue. Most of them have now have grown up on mobile app games where "loot boxes" are just standard and have barely known another business model.

Nintendo got a lot of flak over the years for how they are reluctant to follow trends, but seems like they are enjoying another wave of success due to following their own path.

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