Friday, January 18, 2013

A history of gaming from the fourth generation to now (opinion)

Some SEGA fan in the early '90s probably called Nintendo shortsighted for never releasing any of the proposed 32 bit CD addons for the SNES, then the Mega-CD and 32X flopped like a fish and those people slunk away to find something better to do. Then came the 3D era of gaming in the fifth generation, SEGA and Sony had just gone the CD route and Nintendo chose to stick with cartridges.
This is when the "Nintendo is short-sighted" train started being the "cool" thing to do, then it was found that the SEGA Saturn, Atari Jaguar, and Sony PlayStation were in order: Released too early with not nearly enough games or support, overpriced and under-powered, had issues with any and all FMVs, and for all of the above: DRM that is beyond laughable. Nowadays you can stick any CD game into any computer and make a copy of the game, no problem. The worst part is the PlayStation never corrected the DRM issues even with the thirty four revisions it had. Other issues were fixed with each revision of hardware, but the FMV issues stayed until they were fixed in the late 5000 series, not to mention there were other issues leading up to the 5001 model, namely the disc drive wearing out due to plastic components, etc.
You may say "Alex, there are ways to play and make pirated games from cartridges too" but you can't just run out to the corner shop and buy a stack of them on the cheap, then use any and all free software to copy them, you need specialized hardware and software for most of those. For the rest you can buy SD cards or flash drives, but they're more expensive (Although flash memory is getting dirt cheap).
Then came the Dreamcast, PS2, and Xbox. The Dreamcast's DRM was even more of a joke than the Saturn's or PSX's, the PS2 could be hacked with any off the shelf cheat device and a USB memory device, and the Xbox has so many mods someone wrote a book on it. People may have called Nintendo short sighted for no in-built modem, hard drive or even a hard drive bay on the GameCube, but on the plus side there exist very few hacks for it aside from one involving Phantasy Star Online and the modem that Nintendo released eventually. On top of all that optical burners were becoming standard equipment on most computers  and recordable media was getting cheaper by that time, which also spelled problems for the PSone since it lasted until 2004 and did I mention they never fixed the DRM issues? At least SEGA got wise and fixed the Dreamcast's lockout before they discontinued it.
The year is now 2007 and the Wii and PS3 have just been released, the PS3 cost $500 new and the Xbox 360 has been out for two years and has had countless hardware and software issues to the point of Microsoft giving every console an extended warranty. The PS3 might have less hardware issues, but it's still got enough, as well as a $500 price point. Even though they eventually dropped the price it's still $200 new even though I'm writing this in 2013 and right about now Sony should be releasing they new PS4 or Orbis or whatever. On top of having less hardware issues the Wii also has a wider selection of control options, ranging from typical D pad and two buttons, to full on usage of the motion controls.
Mind you they weren't perfect until recently, but even the pre-Motion+ WiiMote is better than the Kinect's control.
Now, you might be able to pick up a USB drive and SD card, then hack the Wii to your hearts content, but the Wii is nearing the end of its lifespan and Nintendo has released a new console to replace it.
Shifting to the handhelds, Nintendo handhelds have only had one exploit that anyone's been able to use, and that's SD adapters. The DS series compared to the PSP series is like comparing an adamantium safe to a wooden box, all it takes is a few off the shelf materials and you can have all the homebrew and pirated PSP games you want, wheras if you want a DS to SD adapter you have to spend upwards of $50 on one from a shady dealer in China instead of popping off to Wal-Mart or Staples.
This brings us to the eighth generation of gaming: With Sony pricing the Vita around the same as Microsoft is pricing the Xbox 360, the various proprietary hardware required, the lack of a PSP to Vita service in the US, and the fact that five years from the manufacture date the screens of the Vita will lose the blue in them, Nintendo is still winning the console wars, especially since Sony seems to not pay attention to the people telling them to start making things cheaper or they'll go under. Did I mention that despite proprietary hardware galore the Vita was the first to get hacked, not the 3DS with its SD cards and IR port?
Honestly in this entire mess Nintendo and SEGA seem the most sane, at least they've managed to patch their issues whilst still keeping what people like about them, unlike Sony which disabled PS3 Linux support on the second hardware revision of the PS3.
All in all I have to say that when people hate on Nintendo for no doing what the rest of the big companies are that they're just shooting off their mouths, the PSX was under powered and used an inferior media format, the Xbox 360 and PS3 are more likely to fail than the Wii, and will cost more to replace, and the Vita is flopping like a fish.