The games industry moves pretty fast, and there's a tendency for all involved to look constantly to what's next without so much worrying about what came before. That said, even an industry so entrenched in the now can learn from its past. So to refresh our collective memory and perhaps offer some perspective on our field's history, GamesIndustry.biz runs this monthly feature highlighting happenings in gaming from exactly a decade ago.
Hasta la Vista
"If there's a single word that sums up today, it's 'Wow'."
That was Microsoft UK managing director Gordon Frazer, speaking at the Windows Vista launch event in London. He probably meant "Wow," as in, "Wow, look at how great Vista is," but it's hard to look at it now and not think, "Wow, we really dropped the ball with this one."
In keeping with its tradition, Microsoft promoted the launch of its newest OS with talk of how it would revolutionize gaming and this time they're really serious about getting behind the PC as a gaming platform and so on. For Vista, that argument took the form of two big initiatives. The first enticement for gamers to install Vista was DirectX 10, a fancy new version of Microsoft's multimedia and game programming APIs that was deliberately incompatible with previous versions of Windows. The other was the promise that Microsoft would expand its Xbox Live service onto Vista PCs with Live on Windows.
"Windows Vista marks the biggest investment from Microsoft around Windows games since Windows 95, making games easier, safer and more fun to play on the PC," Bill Gates said in his 2007 CES keynote in Las Vegas. "For consumers, we believe gaming is one of the top reasons to upgrade to Windows Vista."
Needless to say, mistakes were made. Sentiment surrounding the OS was negative from the jump, and it probably didn't help that respected industry voices like John Carmack were openly questioning the value Vista would have for gaming.
While gamers (and people in general) never did migrate to Vista en masse, it's clear that Microsoft was pursuing a vision for a unified console-PC gaming that it still pursues today. The company has spent much of the last year touting the connections between the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, most notably with cross-network multiplayer and the Xbox Play Anywhere cross-buy program.
In January of 2007, mobile gaming was still finding its feet. Publishers worried about how to make people aware of how they could download mobile games. Developers complained that operators weren't letting enough games hit the market. Nokia still thought N-Gage had a chance. It turns out Apple was already well on its way to solving all those problems, although it was introducing just as many new ones in the process. The company used its January Macworld Expo to announce the iPhone, which wouldn't launch until June.
You ought not to be in pictures
In 2002, Capcom's Resident Evil made its feature film debut with Paul W.S. Anderson's commercially successful but critically panned adaptation of the zombie horror franchise. Ever since, we've been treated to a succession of sequels and the publisher's insistence that its other games can make the leap to film just as well. 10 years ago, Capcom hired longtime THQ licensing and merchandising executive Germaine Gioia to strengthen its ties to Hollywood, with a push to turn more of its games into movies, and to use more licensed movie IPs in its games.
Judging by the company's releases, the latter part of that effort yielded little fruit aside from perhaps the Phoenix Wright-like adaptation of Adult Swim's Harvey Birdman: Attorney-at-Law animated series. As for the part about getting more game franchises turned into movies, that didn't go so well either. Brad Pitt's production company optioned the rights to make a Dark Void game, then didn't. Capcom said it was going to make a Lost Planet movie, then didn't. As for the new theatrical feature the company did make around this time, 2009's Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Capcom maybe wishes it hadn't.
However, that could only dissuade Capcom for so long. After Anderson puts the long-shambling Resident Evil franchise on hiatus with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter later this month, he and Capcom have said they will focus on bringing a Monster Hunter cinematic universe to the big screen.
In other news
- The Stamper brothers left Rare a decade ago, and it's been a very different developer ever since.
- Sony pats itself on the back for all the PlayStation 3's warming shelves at retailers two months after launch.
- How is Boris Johnson the last of the game industry's GTA-era cultural critics to still be active and relevant on the international stage?