There are many great aspects to the video game medium, but one of our favorites has to be how quickly and drastically things can change. It’s the basis for all of those horribly cliched opening lines whenever mainstream outlets write about games, right? “Not since the days of Pac-Man” and whatnot — games are all grown up!
As far as the last generation goes, the changes were more subtle than they’ve been in the past — you can’t always make a shift as big as going from 2D to 3D, after all — but that doesn’t make them any less significant.
Here are five of the biggest ways that the last gen changed the gaming landscape.
Whether you’re looking at games exclusive to services like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live or the advent of formerly retail-only titles now available digitally, there’s no denying that the way we consume content was changed dramatically. Better yet, it’s been a tremendous boon for gamers and developers alike.
You can make an argument that this past generation of games belonged to scrappy independent developers, something that couldn’t have happened if so many of the barriers to console development weren’t torn down. On the consumer side, digital games can be discounted more easily and the store is always open (so long as it isn’t under maintenance). It’s win-win.
It hasn’t been all gravy, but overall it’s fair to say that the PlayStation Network has been a success. Sure, PlayStation Home was left to die on PS3, and the month-long outage in 2011 was an embarrassing blight no matter how you slice it, but yeah! A success!
PSN as it exists now is a huge step above what it was when the PS3 launched late in 2006. Remember when you couldn’t even read and reply to messages in your inbox without quitting your game? How crazy was that?! Together with Xbox Live, though, Sony’s network helped connect gamers in ways that they hadn’t dreamed just a few short years before.
Back when the PS3 launched, it was a multimedia powerhouse. Blu-ray, DVD, *and* Super Audio CD? Hot damn! Yet 7-plus years later, much of that fell by the wayside as Netflix blazed a trail that turned consoles everywhere into the primary source of entertainment for those who owned them.
When we got this party started, Netflix was just a handy way to get DVD rentals, but now it delivers movies and shows with startling ease at an instant. Amazon didn’t even have a streaming service yet, and no one had even thought up the word “Hulu” yet. Game consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii all played a huge part in their success, with well over 200 million combined units with the potential to pipe in premium programming.