The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
(Dear God, I wrote more than half of this blog, and it accidentally deleted it, so this will probably be a worse post. Sorry, but I'm going to have to write this quickly, as I was already pressed for time.)
With one console already having been released, another just recently announced, and the final waiting in the wings for its turn in the spotlight, one may argue that we are already in the 8th generation of consoles. Both Nintendo and Sony already have a strong lineup of games announced for their consoles, with titles like Watch Dogs across both platforms, and exclusives like Pikmin 3 and inFAMOUS: Second Son, respectively.
However, while their is a focus on gameplay and hardware innovation with both consoles, there's also been a larger-than-ever focus on social aspects on both consoles.
With the 7th generation, like it or not, the biggest, new focus was on motion gaming. Each of the Big Three introduced their own motion and/or voice based interface. Major titles including Skyward Sword, Heavy Rain, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier each required/allowed the use of motion on devices released by the Big Three for their consoles. The use of motion controls has introduced more people to the video game industry, and with the 8th generation, I think that the console manufacturers are all aiming for a more integrated, unique social experience.
Nintendo has already released their console, the Wii U, which makes use of the online service Miiverse. It allows for consumers to post drawings and messages to communities, which coincide with the games and services available for the console. This lets people build small communities within one large one, and for people to be more creative with what they show to others, as opposed to simple text statements. The feature also lets people acquire advice for tough parts in the games they play on the system. For example, New Super Mario Bros. U allows players to post comments and advice about each specific level in the game. Also, Nintendo has confirmed it is planning on making Miiverse accessible through smartphones and PCs in the near future.
As for Sony, their recent PlayStation 4 conference had an early focus on the social interactions between players. The new console has been shown to have a more personal system implemented, with the encouraging of actual names being used, as opposed to something like Yensid493. They've also put a new share button on the new iteration of the Dualshock controller, which allows for PS4 owners to post screenshots and video for viewing by others. Sony is pushing hard for this social service, and is even allowing for streams of gameplay visible to other PS4 owners.
While Microsoft already has a robust and popular service, it isn't as personal and social as what exists on Nintendo's Wii U and what will exist on the PS4. However, I expect that Microsoft will be making Live more social, by integrating the use of things like Skype, and more of their other services. Live is currently too menu focused, awkward, and confusing(at least, I think so-it takes forever to find things) for more people to use it-by making it easier to use, they'll be able to attract more consumers, which both Nintendo and Sony seem to have recognized.
I know that the gaming community is divided on the issue of social integration into consoles, but one cannot deny their popularity nowadays. Even though I hate Facebook with a passion, the increased usage of similar services on game consoles will no doubt at least offer new gamers a reason to stay-more people are playing than ever, and now the Big Three are trying to get them to stay.