4 Video Game Gimmicks Nobody Likes Anymore
A decade ago, sci-fi movies like The Island and Minority Report promised us a future where we didn't have to pick up controllers to play video games. Well, guess what: It's here! The future arrived! And it sucks! After the promising start of the Wii, the impressive technological potential of the Kinect, and the "hey guys, we're doing this too, we guess" of the PlayStation Move, it looks like the state of interactive gaming has screeched to a painful halt. Here's why:
The PlayStation 4 Camera Is Used for Porn, Drugs, Weirdness (Anything but Gaming)
The world was introduced to the PlayStation 4's Playroom (a mini-game that uses a camera to show you interacting with cool special effects on your TV) when Ice-T kicked little virtual robots on Jimmy Fallon's show. Remember that? Lots of people do, because the PS4 camera immediately sold out as gamers began broadcasting their Playroom sessions online. Here's how Sony imagined everyone would use this thing:
And here's what the Internet did instead:
He starts blowing the gun too.
Yep, turns out that having something deeply, deeply wrong with you is a prerequisite for being the sort of person who would want to broadcast your life through a video game console. Some people got drunk and gave their numbers to the Internet, with predictable results. Some people performed live sex acts or knocked robots around with their nearly bare asses. And this guy just used it to show the world his Yu-Gi-Oh card collection.
This is exactly how we imagine everyone who's still a Yu-Gi-Oh fan in 2014.
And of course Japan makes it weirder because they have to. Those links are from a specific show called Pinup Girl Party, which is less sexy than you'd think. Or exactly as sexy, if you're into housekeepers stripping down to blow birthday cakes and just being Japanese in general.
Pictured: someone's pants right now.
The average users of Playroom seemed to fall into four often-overlapping categories: perverts, drunks, weirdos ... oh, and children. Like this kid here, who is told by a random commenter, "I'm at your window watching you" and actually goes to check:
Aww, that's adora- wait, no, that's terrifying. Why is that kid on the Internet's equivalent of a sex dungeon, and why are there 10 people watching him? Only two weeks after the service started, Twitch banned all Playroom broadcasts and so, for the most part, ended this great experiment. Clearly, humanity isn't prepared to put Internet cameras on our game machines, and we doubt it ever will be.
Of course, this "interactive gaming" thing might have been fucked from the start ...
Nintendo's Motion Controls Peaked With Wii Bowling
Back in 2006, Nintendo's Wii Sports was hailed as the beginning of a new era for video games. An era where you could play bowling by swinging the controller with your arm, for example, or you could ... no, that's it. The bowling game was Nintendo's first great idea for how to use their new motion-sensor controllers, and eight years later we're still waiting for them to think of a second one. For half the Wii's games, the best they could come up with was shake the controller to do whatever:
A game so complex, Homer Simpson's drinking bird could master it.
Wii Sports sold 82.5 million copies and became the Nintendo Wii's best-selling game, followed by Mario Kart Wii (35.5 million) and another version of Wii Sports (32.6 million). The lesson was obvious: People like pretend bowling ... and mustachioed Italian plumbers driving go-karts. Even though they never developed the painfully obvious Mario Bowling Kart, and allowing for the caveat that those units-sold numbers include bundled copies, the Wii did pretty well on the implicit promise that Wii Sports was only the beginning and that something even more amazing would come in the future. It had to, right?
Nope, that was it. Fast-forward to today: The best-selling game for Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, is New Super Mario Bros U -- basically the same Mario game you played as a kid, with slightly better graphics. It's sold only 4.16 million copies, and like 4.15 million of those probably went to actual mustachioed Italian plumbers.
"Yes, honey, this is exactly what daddy's job is really like."
So that's where Nintendo's "new era of interactivity" ended up: in retro-style Mario games. Nintendo all but ditched the motion-sensor technology (or at least stopped trying to come up with new uses for it) and decided to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing: touchscreens!
How's that working out for them? Well ...
Everyone Hates Touchscreen Controllers (Especially Game Creators)
You would think with how screen-obsessed our modern culture has become, combining touchscreens with game consoles would result in pure gold. However, game design isn't an exact science: Sometimes "good thing" plus "good thing" equals "pure butt."
"Dinosaurs and fighting! How could it go wrong!?!"
Turns out most real game designers (as opposed to the people trying to scam you through your phone) hate touchscreens because they keep the player from focusing on the TV, which is pretty much the exact opposite point of a video game. That's why big developers want nothing to do with Nintendo's touchscreen-based Wii U, and why Microsoft has released exactly two Xbox One games compatible with their tablet-based SmartGlass system since last December. Sony probably had the right idea: They abandoned their touchscreen controller before it even launched.
It still sold more copies than the Vita.
Here's someone else who doesn't like touchscreens, besides developers: your child's doctor, since they can apparently stunt development in young kids. We're betting a large number of adult gamers aren't big fans of these screens either, since it's kind of difficult pretending to be a bad-ass space marine when your chubby fingers keep getting your digital self murderized.
But maybe we're thinking too small. All this technology might suck for games, but maybe there's another cool use for it. Like, for example ...
All Those Interactive Shows Coming to Xbox Are Already Canceled
This year, Microsoft announced this hugely ambitious idea: a whole bunch of interactive TV shows for Xbox 360 and Xbox One! Including cool Halo shit by Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott! What could be better than combining the sweet couch-potatoeness of TV with the epic control a video game has to offer? Literally anything else, apparently, because a month after the service debuted, the shows were canceled.
Don't worry: Microsoft says the Halo movie with Spielberg is still coming out ... you know, like when they said the Halo movie with Peter Jackson was still coming out, back in 2005. But we're sure this time it's different. Anyway, we found a trailer:
So, why did Microsoft cancel the entire project so suddenly? It might have had something to do with the fact that the shows would have used Kinect to let you interact with them, and everyone hates Kinect -- to the point where taking it away doubled the Xbox One's sales. We hated it so much that the idea of interactive TV shows was murdered before it even started.
OK, so cameras are for weirdos, Wii remotes are a dead end, everyone hates touchscreens and Kinect ... what's next for the video game industry? Well, look at this headline for the latest interactive gaming technology:
Now everyone will know exactly what part of Lara Croft's anatomy you're staring at.
They're right! Eye tracking is the next joystick -- as in something we stopped using because it didn't have enough buttons. As in, this is just a small step forward from the Kinect, that thing that everyone hated so damn much. In other words, start investing in arcade machines and air hockey tables, everyone.
Carolyn loves zombie and Silent Hill games. If you tweet at her she promises not to be too interactive.