Has this generation of gaming finally begun?

It's been a really slow start to this generation, but now we're at the halfway point and things finally seem to be picking up...

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The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S were both released at the beginning of the pandemic, which had several consequences ranging from hardware availability to hampered game development. The latter has since never really been the same again and many people got used to working at home and there has been a reluctance in many places to actually return to a physical workplace - despite many companies claiming it makes development more efficient.

Added to this, we also have the explosion of what we now know as live services. Huge games with more content than anyone could possibly need, designed for us to play for at least a year, requiring huge amounts of resources and resulting in games that are largely untouched (a majority of the content in these games is never used by those who bought the title). Then we can also add the fact that today's advanced technology has itself increased the resources required to develop games significantly, as Nintendo itself recently admitted.

Has this generation of gaming finally begun?
The pandemic and live service has contributed to a barren generation.

So, is this a doom 'n gloom chronicle? No, not at all, quite the opposite actually. I just want to establish the basis for why I reason the way I do. To summarise, few would argue against that we've had a really poor first half of this generation. Not only have the big games been few, they have also not been optimised for the new generation's hardware and are largely released for PlayStation 4 (where Sony states that half have not upgraded yet) and Xbox One.

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In short, looking back over the past four years, the picture for consoles is not a happy one, either quantitatively (with the possible exception of indie games) or qualitatively, and few seem to be genuinely excited about the amount of microtransactions/season passes that have washed over us in the wake of the live service trend. But... it wasn't a doom 'n gloom column as I said. Because I think things are about to change for the better.

Has this generation of gaming finally begun?
Sony is attending the Tokyo Game Show for the first time since 2019. They obviously have a reason for this decision.

While it's summertime and the gaming world is basically at a standstill, a really exciting autumn awaits us. Microsoft had a really nice Xbox Games Showcase last month and is also focusing on Gamescom. Just a month later, Nintendo and Sony are ready for the Tokyo Game Show, where Sony is also speculated to have its own major event and will also celebrate 30 years of PlayStation in December.

And there's no doubt that Sony has games in the pipeline. Studios like Bend, Sucker Punch, and Naughty Dog hasn't even released a new game for PlayStation 5 yet, and for several others, next year (we know that Sony has flagged that they have no new games in their largest series before April 1, 2025) it will have been three years since the last release. In addition, there are many indications that Sony has a new, more powerful version of the PlayStation 5 in the works, which of course will have to be released with some game that shows why we need it. Sure, it might be a drier autumn than PlayStation gamers are used to, but there will be a lot going on, a lot of talk - and then there's Astro Bot and Lego Horizon Adventures (also coming to Switch).

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Has this generation of gaming finally begun?
Both PlayStation and Nintendo players can look forward to a more unique Horizon adventure later this year.

Nintendo, on the other hand, has mostly been feeding us made-up scraps for the past year, but we know officially that they have a new console around the corner and have already waved Metroid Prime 4: Beyond under our noses. People like to say that Nintendo stands alone and doesn't compete with others, but at the end of the day, a lot of people are choosing whether to buy a Switch 2 or something else. Nintendo also needs to have good games, and I'd be very surprised if there isn't a new 3D Mario (or possibly Mario Kart 9) in the months after release. Plus, they're loading up with The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom, Super Mario Party Jamboree and Mario & Luigi: Brothership - so Switch owners are going to have a great autumn.

Even Xbox owners finally have a reason to be happy. After an unreasonably long drought since 2022 given Microsoft's size and capabilities, things are starting to pick up. Recently, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II arrived, and in the autumn we can look forward to the trio of Avowed, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, on top of Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 which will be played by half a dozen people given that it is included with the Game Pass. I'd also like to make a case for the Castle Crashers-inspired Towerborne coming in 2024, followed by a 2025 with Fable and South of Midnight and probably at least two of Gears of War: E-Day, Perfect Dark and State of Decay 3. Then there's Doom: The Dark Ages, which is also coming to PlayStation 5 and will help set a high bar for console graphics.

Has this generation of gaming finally begun?
After years of rumours and speculation, Indiana Jones and the Great Circle will be released late in 2024.

And that's not even mentioning third-party games, which are also teeming with great titles in the near future such as Star Wars Outlaws, Visions of Mana, Sonic X Shadow Generations, Life is Strange: Double Exposure, Assassin's Creed Shadows, Monster Hunter: Wilds, Wuchang: Fallen Feathers, and of course Civilisation VII. Just to name a few.

In short, it's been a slow and tedious generation (relatively speaking, look at what started the last and previous generations and you'll see), and the threats to the console as a concept have been mounting. But there's quite a lot to suggest that we're now on the cusp of some kind of turnaround. It's going to be a lot more fun to be a gamer in the coming years, with more and more interesting projects to choose from. And this is true from next month onwards.

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