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GDC: Luminaries agree next-gen gaming isn't about technology

Executives from some of the industry's leading games creators have all agreed that next-generation gaming isn't about new technology or the blockbuster release.

Executives from some of the industry's leading games creators have all agreed that next-generation gaming isn't about new technology or the blockbuster release.

For Sony, Electronic Arts, Lionhead and Areae, added value from community, user generated content, connectivity and metagames will define what we'll come to understand as a 'next-gen' title.

"It isn't graphics, it isn't the processor. It's really the connectivity and the metagames that cut across our entertainment spectrum," commented Raph Koster of Areae. "The new games in this generation are really Xbox Live achievements or Miis."

Sony's worldwide studios head Phil Harrison agreed, suggesting that the most exciting aspects of new games won't actually be created by games designers at all.

"It won't be characterised by graphics and processing power and storage media in this generation, it will be characterised by servers, community, using created content and all the things that the game developer doesn't do.

"That's an interesting thing for our industry — all the things that are going to be cool about our future products are things that we won't actually be making — it will be the space between that will actually create the value. The emergent things that are unplanned," he added.

EA Blueprint's Neil Young pointed out that consumers don't always want brand new technology or even what developers may have considered to be new gaming experiences.

"One of the interesting things that happened from the last generation to this generation was how essentially the same games with better visuals out-performed new games and new engines trying to do new things. I think that speaks a little bit to the customer — I'm not sure that the customer is necessarily ready for or accepting of things that are completely new," he said.

Of games already on the market, Activision's Call of Duty 4 and Nintendo's Wii Sports were held up as good examples of true next-gen gaming.

"There are some great inventions and some great things happening in the industry, and a lot of times we in the industry think we're going through a next-generation shift," said Lionhead's Peter Molyneux.

"But I just wonder if I was a consumer what I'd be thinking was 'next-generation'. Would I think of Call of Duty 4, with all its drama and all its excitement — would I call that next-generation? Or would I call Wii Sports next-generation? Call of Duty is about the experience, it's not about how many people you shoot. But if you ask consumers what is a next-generation console they would say the Wii," he said.

Harrison added: "Connectivity numbers on Call of Duty 4 would say yes, it's a next-generation title, because there is so much community built around it."

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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