The Future We Deserve

Tom Mc Shea dreams of a future where every game can be played anywhere, and it's not as far-fetched as it seems.

The next generation of consoles is finally upon us, and with its arrival, visions of new technology dance in our heads. For many, graphics take center stage. More bits and bytes could pave the way for previously unimaginable experiences, and even if developers fail to innovate, at least games will look like a digital re-creation of our unrestrained dreams. For others, it's a new control type that's most pressing. How we interact with our games is more important than how they look, and a new controller could open the door to better accessibility and more nuanced input. And yet, as impressive as the idea of these new technological plateaus is to me, there's another category that is taking all of my attention: flexibility.

Consider, for a moment, how recent technological breakthroughs have changed entertainment. Physical media demanded that we needed to procure a tangible piece of software to watch a movie or listen to a song. It's a strange concept now, but only a decade ago, downloading our favorite creation seemed like a futuristic pipe dream, best left to science fiction wizards inhabiting a crazy utopian future. But now, we need only be near an Internet source (which flows through the air like data-carrying oxygen), and we can stream our favorite piece of entertainment directly to whatever state-of-the-art device we have in our hands. It's a fundamental shift in how we consume goods that has overtaken every aspect of our lives. We can now watch our favorite movies, listen to our favorite songs, read our favorite books, play our favorite…

Wait, that last one isn't right. We can't play our favorite games wherever we want. While riding a commuter train, I could stream Rocky IV directly to my smartphone. I could watch Mr. Balboa fight the unbeatable Russian to end the Cold War with one seismic punch. I could shout with delirious glee alongside cheering passengers while we shook our fists yelling "USA! USA!" Oh, sure, such a scenario is preposterous, but it is possible. And yet, if I wanted to plant a plasma grenade on the face of a chattering grunt in Halo 4, I would be unable to. The only way I could steer a Warthog into a brute or hijack a Banshee out of the air is by commanding the faceless Master Chief from my living room couch. Halo 4 can only be played on the Xbox 360, after all, and trying to fire up a console on a commuter train just isn't realistic.

The disconnect between my demands and reality have to be shattered in the coming generation. We've grown accustomed to games being delivered and playable in only specific places, but it's an archaic situation that offers a sharp contrast to every other form of mass media. Imagine if you could only read J.K. Rowling's latest non-magical novel from the throne in your bathroom, or were restricted to rewatching the third season of Community in the library. Pretty asinine, no? And yet, we're perfectly fine with playing Halo 4 sitting on our comfy couches in front of our high-definition televisions? Well, I sure as heck am not fine with that. At least not anymore.

Whether Sony or Microsoft takes the reins on my dream console, or another company that's waiting in the wings jumps in on what is assuredly a gold mine, doesn't matter to me. What does matter is that technology is used to tear down the walls that are separating video games from their destiny as the most consumed form of mass entertainment. There are so many rules right now, so many types of games restricted to one device or another, so many excuses to make and explanations to dole out that it's incredible games are as popular as they are. Imagine a device that removes all of those "nos" and instead offers a hearty "yes!"

The diversity and flexibility of every gaming device would be possible, so long as a large enough audience demands this wealth of entertainment.

My idea is not as preposterous as it might initially appear. There have already been systems that fill the exact purpose I have described. Take, for instance, the often neglected though wondrously adventurous PSP. Not only did Sony's first handheld have access to a prodigious online store offering all manner of satisfying morsels of entertainment, but it could connect to a television as well. The middle ground between handheld and console the world desperately needs, the PSP strove to be the perfect entertainment device no matter what situation you found yourself in. Problems arose, which seems to happen to anything with untold potential, that derailed its success, but nothing insurmountable. As a mere handheld, the PSP never received the wealth of support of its console brothers, and though it could display on a television, it never replaced a proper console because the image quality was poor, and it did not support extra controllers.

But it was a worthwhile start.

My dream console would have a library that caters to the needs of all who fancy themselves gamers. It does not matter if you crave match-three puzzlers or first-person bloodbaths--avian slingshots or dragon yells--an ideal console would have the best games from every genre represented. Take the cartoony adventure you were enjoying at home on the train to make your commute fly by, or slap the social game you've been bugging your friends to play on the big screen to annoy your entire family. Need help? Plug in an extra controller to tackle those conniving demons with a friend, or just log into the online infrastructure to procure the best talent from Western Europe. The diversity and flexibility of every gaming device would be possible, so long as a large enough audience demands this wealth of entertainment.

Caveats arise in every situation, even one as ideal as my proposed console. The freedom this new system would deliver would cause a serious hit to one important facet of gaming: graphics. Technology has simply not progressed enough to allow a fully portable device with graphics that fulfill what we imagine would be found on a next-generation system, so our flights of visual fancy would have to be tempered slightly. To release a product such as this with a digestible price would require sacrifice in polygonal might. Still, games that look as good as what we're currently playing would still be possible, so it's not like we'd be stuck in the 8-bit ghetto. But where one element might stagnate, the other parts would rise up in its stead to create a glorious new regime.

We've seen glimpses of my proposed console becoming a reality. OnLive was a service capable of streaming graphically stunning games, without forcing you to chase the upgrade cat every time new hardware came out. Windows Phone uses Xbox services, and even lets you play some Arcade games, but that only scratches the surface. At some point, a company is going to understand that handheld vs. console gaming is a silly distinction and that any game should be playable at any time. And that's when gaming will realize its enormous potential.

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Discussion

318 comments
onionking108
onionking108

I guess it's just nostalgia or comfort, but I would much rather play my favorite games in the comfort of my own home lounging on my bed with a decent size screen in front of me than on my iphone on a train ride somewhere.  I know that the future will see more and more portable games, but I'm ok with home consoles for now.  interesting thoughts though...

realguitarhero5
realguitarhero5

At least he realized that a mobile focused device would require graphical sacrifice.

 

And that's where consoles SHOULD be.

 

As PC gaming comes into the forefront even more, THAT'S where the graphical power should be.  Consoles should focus on the convenience and portability.

 

As the next generation of consoles looms on the horizon, I wouldn't be upset if they had similar power to the current consoles if they had the portability.  The current generation has proved that you don't need new hardware every 3-4 years to keep developers innovating.

 

PC's are for the power, consoles are for the convenience.

sullyliam
sullyliam

good aricle interesting comments something to think on...

itchyflop
itchyflop

Take the x spectrum by Sinclair, he didn't want it to be for games. he says himself  "Clive Sinclair the man who bought you fkng jet set willy!!". What ever the mass's think, someone will always ask "well can we play games on it". The future will be upon us before we blink, tablet and free roaming gaming, not to mention tower based pc's wont be long coming. Be prepared and be excited!! 

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

Doesn't sound implausible. I mean take the Wii-U for example. What's to stop that idea being further developed to provide an internet output functionality so instead of the console talking to the tablet/controller by Bluetooth or whatever it uses, it sends it over the net, only bandwidth needs to increase and with the future, 4G, 5G etc, that will happen.

Also, its not implausible for Android or IOS software to be developed to act as a controller like the Wii-U so console games on phones could be doable.

Wake on network etc means its possible to wake the console when required so console games on the move could become a reality one day.

The only thing about this idea is, if its any game, anywhere, any device, that means companies need to standardise and not do exclusives, this I don't ever see happening.

I like the idea McShea, nice thought

Tanares
Tanares

Portable games are the future. More importantly, the format should be something above what we are used to. Think a tablet approach would be best.  Tablets would offer the right size and capability from that size (to borrow an old car axiom, 'There's no substitute for cubic inches').

 

Cloud based gaming would probably be the right direction to take it, but the ability to have some sort of physical media outlet shouldn't be completely ignored.. most certainly when this said gaming device needs room to expand upon itself.

 

Finally, on top of it being WiFi enabled it should be able to communicate with other devices, PC communication would be an absolute must. Battery life can be a bit immaterial; as long as the device is easy to recharge. 

 

That, ladies and gents, would be the natural evolution of the next generation of console.

UKSavage
UKSavage

I love the looks of the Vita and I still love my DS ever since I recovered it. But I never really liked portable gaming that much. I prefer to be comfy at home, playing on (even my portable devices) my Xbox and PC. I will probably stick with my consoles and PC for now. Portable gaming is not my thing, and no, the surface is not for gaming god dammit.

GreySeven
GreySeven

If I'm not mistaken, the popularity of the Vita, a portable gaming device that has mainstream titles, was not doing so hot while the popularity of devices that simply play Angry Birds, Gems, or Farmville were on the rise.  Handheld seems to be better suited for humanity when it is simple to play, repetitive, and segmented.  It's perfect for phones as a tertiary function.  If we're really talking about the future we deserve, I would trade portability for better quality in story writing and innovation any day.  Also, I'd prefer not see Modern Warfare tweens on my morning commute trash talking  someone's mother and dropping the N word over their headset. 

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

   This guy has no clue what gamers want. Thank god he's not working for a game company. I have a Vita, ipad, and a smartphone and I in no way think its anything more then to pass time. When I'm out and about I use them because I have to be still aware of my surroundings. You cant get involved,pay attention, and be totally immersed when on a subway or killing useless time like on a break from work. I never want to get rid of my surround sound, big screen, total immersion that comes from my living room. I think if this guy was working for MS or Sony and calling the shots then it would be the last system that they come out with and they would see major revenue loss. Don't lose your day job Tom.

Zarkhaine
Zarkhaine

Well, clearly McShea has no idea what gamers want judging by the comments being left here. You can't post articles like this without any proof to back up the claims. Maybe he should have posted this on his own blog or something - it's clearly just his own opinion and not that of the gaming community. This should not be posted on this site! 

lobobastard
lobobastard

1- the TRUE question here is not about going out of your home and play everywhere you want, that is up to you to decide. The question is once you by an IP, a game of any kind, you must have the right to download it to any device you wish. 

 

2- For example, Dark souls, I had the Xbox 360 version, than if I wanted to play on Pc, I hade to buy another copy of a game I already had. Same thing with Skyrim. That is not right, cause I already paid for it once.

 

3-Today it is possible to do that. You can easily adapt your game for your hardware. For example, any pc game goes from low to ultra settings, with many resolutions to choose, that is to fit your personal system.

 

The true question here is not if you are going to play Dark Souls while you are on the bus going somewhere, but you sure have the right do to it once you bought the game. Just like you do when you bought a book, a songs etc.

 

 ITS ALL ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER, your freedom of choice. And history does not lie, whenever freedom won, better were the results.

 

Freedom, understand it and support it.

XABDOS
XABDOS

I love gaming on the go, I play my Vita literally every day. And I can only say that portable gaming is only getting better, - less than a year old my Vita has more games that I enjoyed than on my 'Phat' PSP ( that still lives ) combined ! The PSP sure had, MGS PW, Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia - those were the only real games that I enjoyed on my PSP alot, but with my Vita I love playing Uncharted, AC 3 Liberation, NFSmostwanted ( I've been playing this game ever since it's launch in Oct.30 ), and of course my favorite game on the Vita - Gravity Rush, that game is one of the best games I've played this year and is one of the best portable gaming experiences ever.

soheil_m
soheil_m

I really love to continue playing whenever I want , When I'm tired I like to sit on my bed play Assassin's creed 3 , for example , on my phone , or at least my phone can work just as a monitor .. I guess Onlive is gonna doing this and that's gotta be the future of gaming , at least the future that I would love !

findingaplace
findingaplace

this might be your dream, tom, but it's certainly not mine.  I don't own any handheld systems, ipod, ipad, or anything like that.  If I game it's going to be at home where I can actually pay full attention to what I'm doing. 

Tee_Mal
Tee_Mal

Realistically speaking I think it's a bad idea and in my opinion is certainly not the future. I can't speak for everyone but I know I, and my friends barely EVER take their "portable" consoles out with them.

 

No, the 3DS and VITA's of this world rarely go travelling because:

 

A) 90% of people already carry around a mobile phone - carrying multiple expensive devices is annoying.

 

B) to play a game in a travelling situation is usually for the purpose of wasting time, not for the purpose of gaming - when you're at home in your comfort zone, in your free time, you choose to turn on your console to play a game for entertainment, when you're travelling, you like to kill time, to distract yourself from what might be a tedious journey - mobile phones already suffice in this department with a multitude of options for achieving that goal of wasting time until you arrive to your destination, whether it's halo 4 or fruit ninja I don't think it would matter as both offer enough levels of entertainment to be "distracted".

 

C) I think if you're talking about an eco-system of devices that allow you to pick up on the go from where you left off at home on your game, that's actually realistically hard to enjoy, because I for one like to enjoy my game and absolutely hate to feel like I'm missing any of the action, which is why I like to play those games the way they're meant to be played, in the comfort of your home, I guess what i'm trying to say is, I don't think it's nearly as easy to immerse yourself into a top-flight home-console game on the move as it is to mildly entertain yourself with an app, book, or movie.

 

I believe the PSP and now the VITA have already proved this.

oldschoolvandal
oldschoolvandal

That does not sound llike the future to me...even if fanboys or console war (or console vs PC) comments suck...to think that a single device would provide all this varied experiences with quality is very naive.

To compare Skyrim with any casual game is even worst, even if this idea is merely implied in the article by saying that both experiences would be just as enjoyable on the go, where I assume is not as safe to loose yourself in a game as it is at home.

My true questions are:

Where would be the competition that drives the media forward?

In what universe to standardization of format is good for customers (or companies)?

 

Unless I misunderstood something from the text....I really don't want this future for me.

KillzoneSnake
KillzoneSnake

I only game at home on a big screen TV, but outside? lol never

apnance
apnance

oh yes, we all deserve a future full of retrograde gimmickry!

bakasora
bakasora

I used to own a PSP and now that I have a Vita, the PSP look so weird now.

MondasM
MondasM

although i can relate to the desire of a truly mobile and packed-with-features gaming experience, i do think it is meant only for the casual gaming market, where you do not need to invest most if not all of your attention to the game you are playing... as for competitive online or face to face gaming, i feel the need to be immersed in what i am playing and the large screen coupled with a decent surround sound system are an integral part of this immersion level...

 

we are catching the first glimpses of either vr or non-vr commercial headsets incorporating virtual / real surround sound and the feeling of a large screen, however they are nowhere near where our expectations lie... i can see that in the coming twenty years this might change drastically, however i still would prefer to rant / shout / swear (it happens every now and then) freely about how cheap the opposing team scored or the opposing player fragged me alone in my living room...

 

ps: these are my personal feelings, i can relate to people who do not have the freedom as i have and require a portable and less volume consuming experience, but believe you me, i find gaming much more fulfilling, when i do have my own large screen and loud surround sound without anything attached to my head (oh, wait, i use a bt headset for online chat)...

_huh
_huh

Your overuse of personal pronouns like "my" really gets nauseating to read.  Ok, we get it, this is an aritcle that you are writing to tell all of us know-nothings about what type of gaming experience we should want.  Guess what, your idea sounds lame and I don't want it.  I want to play on a big screen within the confines of my own comfortble environment, without distractions, not on a subway while trying to keep hobos from peeing on me.

GoldenEagleXT
GoldenEagleXT

While it is an interesting idea, Tom's argument is pretty lacking. He offers no evidence that people want to play full games on the go, and that the industry is heading in this direction. There is actually evidence against it, like the beatdown the vita and 3ds is getting by apples app store. People don't want an immersive rpg on the go, they want doodle jump. Tom makes the assumption that we aren't happy sitting in front of the couch playing skyrim; I disagree. It's kinda cozy, and beats the hell out of the bus

TacticaI
TacticaI

I think the success of handheld devices at this point has actually little to do with being readily available on the go. Look at how great the PS Vita and its games are doing right now, SONY trying to blur or streamline your console and portable experience is clearly not something gamers are begging for or even want. 

LoG-Sacrament
LoG-Sacrament

It sounds appealing when the console game in question is something I have no investment in outside a score like with Halo, but the very best games need their own space. I think of a contemplative game like Braid or a game that requires complete investment like Dark Souls. I don't want to play those games on a small screen while chatting it up or on a crowded bus surrounded by distractions.

GriffinBalls
GriffinBalls

Although to be fair, if you can develop an app to be the controller away from the base unit then as with all other ideas, each company will develop its own version of it so as not to lag behind and so the whole non exclusive point isn't relevant

travo0159
travo0159

 @Infinity_Gauntl

 yeah, its hard to give up a big poofy couch, big screen TV's, and a fridge full of one's favorite beverage, plus rage fits out in public would be unseamly.

Giancarlo
Giancarlo moderator

 @Zarkhaine This is an editorial. It is, by definition, an opinion from an individual. That's the point. GameSpot isn't just one giant robot that churns out content.  It's made up of people with varying opinions. 

pcty
pcty

 @lobobastard I disagree, I had the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on DVD according to your logic I should have the right to get a free Blu-Ray Copy or download it in Full-HD for free.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

 @lobobastard Yep then I would be able to play Skyrim on my Xbox and be able to buy the DLC's for it... sign.....

thegroveman
thegroveman

 @lobobastard

As much as I hate the fact that we now have to have an account for every publisher, I can hope that will lead to some universal access to a game that we purchase.  I think I'm being overly optimistic though, publishers most likely want to have their cake and eat it too, preventing us from selling games used AND tying our purchase to specific devices.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

 @XABDOS PSP also had a good edition of Harvest Moon on it which was almost the same as the original but layed out diffrently and with an extra character to play as with a diffrent backstory.

Zarkhaine
Zarkhaine

 @findingaplace Exactly! When I play a game I want to sit at home in a nice comfy chair, stick my headphones on, and lose myself in the game world. I want to be fully immersed in the game - no distractions. I want to experience everything from the story to the graphics and sound design.

 

I don't want to sit on the frickin' bus where I can't hear anything and getting knocked about while i'm gaming, or sit outside where I can't see the screen properly from the glare and where there's too many distractions to properly concentrate on the actual game.

 

I think portable gaming has its place, but I think i'm gonna stick to my gaming rig, so I can play in peace and enjoy everything the game can offer.

razvan_fdr
razvan_fdr

 @GoldenEagleXT Exactly.Imagine playing Dark Souls on a city bus.Who the hell would want that?I'd rather listen to some music on the bus and play my games in a dark lit room where i can concentrate all my imagination on that game and not be bothered by all the old people coughing left and right.

highlanderjimd
highlanderjimd

 @itchyflop hehe i cant stop playing it. someone on an MMA forum used it for when a fighter pulled out of a matchup. It seems to fit everything I look at atm lol

 

It sums up so many reactions to games Ive had over the years such as Dragon Age 2, Mafia 2, Mass Effect 2 and 3 etc.. hehe

lobobastard
lobobastard

 @pcty  @lobobastard 

thegroveman

 

all tools are available for the publishers to show some respect for the consumer's money. At the end, it's up to us to support companies and groups that respect us and avoid those who don't. 

 

The Witcher 2 was a fine example of a good product to support. I guess Crytek is heading for the right way as well.

 

pcty

 

at least gaming industry has not come to the point to charge for hd textures yet . VHS - DVD - Blu ray = ripoff. If you already have it on dvd, blu ray should be cheaper.

 

I am talking about content (that is fundamental to any IP), not only pixels.

pcty
pcty

 @lobobastard "the FORMAT of a game is SOFTWARE"

No offenses, but that is a very shallow definition. Although the game that you play is almost the same, is a known fact that program behind a game that runs on a XBOX360 differs from the program of the same game that runs on the PS3 wich, according to many developer studios, is harder to program.

I think that your idea may fit for PC where you buy the game and are allowed to run on different machines.

Also format can change according to the media that you are using.

lobobastard
lobobastard

@pcty@lobobastard

you say: "the fact is that right now it can't so a XBOX 360 game is a different format than a PC game"

 

that definition is the one the people on the business uses to make you buy new things, now I dont see it that way, that is how I see it, the FORMAT of a game is SOFTWARE, not cd, dvd, bluray.So, a xbox game and a pc game have the same format.

 

When you buy a game, you are not paying for the plastic case and dvd, those costs under $1. You pay $50 for the software inside of it. That is why digital download costs the same as a dvd one.

 

Cd,Dvd, Bluray are the MEDIA.

 

MEdia: the bridge between you and the software. Just like a pen drive, or hard drive. You use it to transport data.

 

The reason the xbox software does not run on pc is because microsoft adds a blocking in its software, and if you are a real good programmer your might even find and and change that. That incompabilty has nothing to do with format.

 

You raised a good point about the license question. I would prefer to pay once for a free license that I can use everywhere I want to, than pay 2, 3 times for the same content cause of multiple hardware. Even if that means that I cant resell these license. Like those account linked games migt be in the near future. I think that would be a fair exchange between industry and consumer.

 

At the end of the day, all resumes to this, everybody on both sides, industry and consumer wants the best deal possible. I as a consumer cant start to talk about a good deal for me, if it does not have respect for the money I spent. Sure the industry is happy with multiple deals, and products that dont work fine, huge marketing lies, etc.

 

That is not enough for me.Whenever I feel a company has not respect my time and money, I immediately start boycotting it,and sharing the word with everyone I know. What they call as bad publicity, I call truth.

 

The opposite of this example works too, whenever I see that a company has respect for my time and money , I spread the good word around, not because I have a financial deal with them. But becasue I truly believe that I have the obligation to support only the good and healthy business and all the implications this have in all sectors of society.

pcty
pcty

 @lobobastard If the PC could or not run an XBOX 360 game is irrelevant because the fact is that right now it can't so a XBOX 360 game is a different format than a PC game, so yes I would say that is fair to pay twice for the same game.

There is a huge discussion going on the game industry about if you buy the CD/DVD/BLU-RAY or if you are just acquiring the license to use the software. Again, by your logic one can assume that you believe that when you pay you are getting the license to use the software and because of that the consumer doesn't have the right to sell his copy since it doesn't own it and I just can't agree with that.

lobobastard
lobobastard

 @wweraw123  @pcty  @lobobastard  I am talking about IP, not format.

 

Whats Skyrims Xbox 360 version? Is the Low setting of the PC version.

 

So, whats the difference? in buying one skyrim, let's say on steam store, and if you download it to your xbox or any other device, it would run with low settings, and if you have another device that can run it higher you do that there.

 

It is not another format. It is the real and only one running on lower settings. Why pay twice?

 

Microsoft can easily make xbox games run on pc as well, its a simple software matter, not a format matter. they dont do it so you buy more hardware. 

 

If I agree with you, I have to take a mp3 (format) that works on pcs, and for cellphones I have to get another sound format as phonep3 and buy the music twice. Thats stupid.ripoff.

 

Also I think its really bad that you can work on any of the console hardware as well.

wweraw123
wweraw123

 @pcty  @lobobastard

 actually, he's right. By your logic, he is entitled to a free blu ray copy of the movies. You bought your games in one format (say 360), so you can CHOOSE to also buy it in another (say PC). Sorry, but allowing you to play it on all devices is only going to up the price, which is going to make everyone unhappy, especially the ones who don't want to play a game on more than one platform. If you could play a game on multiple platforms for one price, then there'd be no reason for you to own more than one device. There'd be no XBOX, no PS3, and no PC gaming. everything would be on a handheld that could also hook up to a TV, because that'd be the only thing that makes sense.

pcty
pcty

 @lobobastard NO it should not. You paid for what was avaiable at the time and you got your product if you think it is worth you can buy it again in another fromat or media but if you don't think that an HD treatment is worth you just don't buy it.