The lights are on
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The next console generation hit and continues evolving their
features but new technology announcements suggest that where games settle in
the next few years remains unknown. More
and more gamers are being given the option to shape our gaming set up with our
2014 CES found gaming relevance this year with Sony's keynote and PC gaming's foray into our living rooms.
The new gaming generation may not be so much the
differentiation between the television consoles but defined by the disappearing
lines between console and PC gaming. The
2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brought us more announcements of the
television based consoles branching into entertainment, PC games playable on
the television, and gaming libraries distilled into apps.
Personally, I have not yet jumped into the new console
generation. Instead, I game happily on
my Xbox 360, Steam account, and even occasionally on my iPad Air. The upcoming new generation blockbuster games
have my attention but with the gaming news from 2014 CES I am more confused than
ever as to what gaming platform I want most when I upgrade.
Sony's Console-less Playstation Now
Mind. Blown. All of those missed Playstation exclusives via my television? Now I just need to avoid all spoilers for The Last Of Us...
Sony's CES 2014 announcement for Playstation Now is
stunning. Sony presented an app that
plays Playstation games. For now the
reality is that in summer 2014, Playstation 3 games will be available on the
Playstation 4 essentially meeting the demand for backwards compatibility less
than a year after launching the Playstation 4.
Admittedly, Playstation Now is not truly backwards compatibility because
the app most likely requires a new purchase rather than playing currently owned
games given that the gaming is cloud based.
Sony revealed that both subscription and a la carte purchase options
will be available but did not release any price points.
However, a service originally announced as providing
previous generation Playstation games on the Playstation 4 via Sony's recently
purchased Gaikai's game streaming service has morphed into a much larger
feature. Sony distilled its entire, and
impressive, Playstation gaming library into an app that does not require a
Playstation console for playing Playstation games. The mind reels. Instead, a Bluetooth connection to a Sony
Bravia television will allow gamers to play The Last Of Us with Playstation Now
and a Playstation 3 or 4 controller.
Eventually, the app will transition onto tablets and other internet
connected devices which raises the question of porting the controls to the
touchscreen or using a Playstation controller.
Still, Sony is bypassing its own consoles by creating a pipeline for its
games onto nearly any electronic device in the future.
Questions abound about whether or not the game streaming
will be effective on most home internet connections or suffer from lag and
unresponsiveness. But the idea is there,
if the app works as advertised, Playstation games complete with all single player,
co-op, and multiplayer modes will be available without a Playstation console.
Valve's Preconfigured Steam Machines
IF I find a Steam Machine that is comparable price-wise to consoles, IF I like the Steam Controller, and IF I don't have to overly worry about system upgrades...I may be persuaded.
Valve's Steam is already the app that Playstation Now wants
to be. In 2014, Valve is stepping squarely
into the console manufacturing business but diversifying by allowing PC
companies to build their own Steam Machine.
Essentially, Valve is porting the PC from the home office or bedroom
into the living room for sitting alongside the television for Steam gaming. The Steam library is already vast, only
requiring successful ports onto the SteamOS that runs the Steam Machines and
roughly 250 games are already available.
Many remain skeptical of the Steam Machine. PC gamers' longtime boast is the upgradable
nature of PCs. The Steam Machines are
preset systems intended to provide more impressive technology compared to the
other consoles with some systems allowing for unspecified upgradable
components. But the greatness of the Steam
gaming library is indisputable as well as access to exclusives. Most Sony and Microsoft exclusives are
available on the company's console and on PC.
The looming questions remain of final pricing for a
successful Steam Machine running all available games and whether or not the
controller is effective to use. Valve's
extension into the living room is confusing with the multiple machines, a
bizarre controller, and the all-important pricing but as soon as the Steam Machines
are set up and working the games are there for playing.
Microsoft's All-In-One Xbox One
This screen looks surprisingly like my Windows 8 (now 8.1) screen. Conspiracy?
Microsoft famously stayed home from CES 2014 regarding major
announcements. The Xbox One is touted as
the all-in-one box that as of now allows for streaming the gamer's cable
connection through the Xbox One, snapping two different features onto the
screen, and instantaneously switching between apps. The all-in-one box seeks to outdate the cable
box and DVR as well as possibly casual PC use for using the television through
the Xbox One for all entertainment apps and electronic social interactions.
Xbox's heritage is social connectivity. The Xbox brought online multiplayer to the
consoles, the Xbox 360 refined the feature with party chart, and the Xbox One
launched with a Skype app made possible by the Kinect's integrated camera. The Xbox One highlights gaming that connects
us to each other and to other features.
While the Playstation 4 is already known for its friendliness to indie
game developers and launched extolling the virtues of games such as Resogun and
Doki-Doki Universe. The Xbox's response
to exclusive games is one word, Titanfall.
Titanfall will include no single player only content instead gameplay is
a single player and multiplayer hybrid that is seemingly more multiplayer than
Steam sales are fabulous. We are quickly paying extra for the option to buy physical copies of games.
We are all gamers who want an avenue for game playing. But we are also people who have a world for
connecting with whether friends or family or homework or work assignments. Finding the time to game is not a given
without a dedication to carve out the time from our daily lives. In 2014, interconnectivity is now a
given. I, who left Facebook for years
until recently, even have a Twitter handle (@rhia29). How we interconnect and what platform we use
is what the corporations are fighting for.
Technology is breaking apart into what does any given
machine "do" versus what I need to "do" and finding the solution that allows me
to "do" what I need on the devices that I prefer to use.
As a gamer, I want to play games. Playstation Now suggests that I can game on
nearly any device that I choose. The
Steam Machines suggests that the higher end PC gaming capabilities of larger
online matches and better graphics are available on my television. The Xbox One suggests that while I play I can
watch a television show, hold an online conversation, or work on my musical
playlists. Now the question is, which
one do I want? Such a question eventually
becomes, which system are my friends on?
Did any 2014 CES revelation blow your mind?
How do you feel about your decision to or not to upgrade to the next console generation?
Do you want Steam in your living room and Playstation an app on your laptop?