One of the greatest things about trying to foresee the future is that you just KNOW that you'll be in for a whuppin' when you're wrong, and noone but yourself is there to tell you that you were correct. Nevermind though.
The future of gaming is here ladies and gentlemen. And it is called XBox Live for 360. Why? You say. XBox Lives been here for a long time, and it hasn't caused that much commotion. Sure. There have been a lot of gaming there. But it has not really been taking anything to the "next level". Whatever your definition of that is. Well, the Live experience on 360 is fiting my definition of "next level" very much. And in many ways I think it is suceeding in unexpected ways.
I've always been an avid gamer. But the last couple of years I've been using my XBox more for viewing vids than for gaming. Not because the games for it were bad as such. But more because I am a social gamer more than anything else. In the ol' days we always sat 2,3 or four guys around the C64, Amiga, PC whatever hardware was providing our kick. When the PC swept the scehe, I had a lot of fun netgaming. But the posse just lost touch, got kids, worked too much, and the social aspect fell apart. And in a way that put a lid on my gaming as well.
But now that I have gotten the 360 I see things getting pulled back together again. We were trhee of the team that got hold of a box a launch. We all got NFS as our only launch game, and we are already in competition even though we haven played against eachother. And all of it just because of the ingenuity of achievements. You can always check up on your friends, see what they have been playing and how far they are. I just love that. Bragging rights right there my friends!
Better yet. More and mor egames seem to be coming out that have coop modes. Even on the old XBox it was possible - but not many games did it - not enough. Now, it seems, it is going to be a factor for a succesful game. My prediction is that focusing so hard on Live as MS is doing with the 360 is redefining the future of games. And about time! Gaming has always been a social experienca. Ask any nerd who games the night away. True, gaming is fun, but when you have someone to share the experience with it is triple fun.
Then there is the Arcade element. Having these small downloadable casual games is another feather in the 360 hat. Not everyone gets their rocks off on FPS, racing, survival horror and sports games, which seem to be all thats coming from the biggies these days. It is too expensive to make games, so nobody wants to gamble. With the arcade there is a prime spot for indies and others that have a good idea but are not ready for the big time. Hopefully we get to see games that are inspiring and toy with the game media in new ways - without needing a multi million dollar budget. It all comes down to how liberal MS is with letting people get games on the arcade. Information that is very hard to come by while the launch motor is still roaring.
So I sincerely hope that making games for the Arcade will not be limited to the established houses, but that Indies will get a shot at having their work on it as well. Hopefully that can bring more innovative ideas into the hands of the customers and break the monotomy on the game market.