It feels like in some ways, online platforms are going to be one of the main differentiators; who has the most seamless, streamlined online experience. Nintendo is still mired by Friend Codes.
JO: There's some legacy issues there.
Again, I think the challenge is that today's young consumers and 16 to 18 year-old adolescents and college students... they consume so much media, and how much they parse and absorb is still in question, but they do consume a lot of it. So how do you motivate them, what do they really want to do and play, and I think when you lay three systems out... I would love to see what would happen if we put out a Wii, a PS3, a PS2, an Xbox 360, somebody's nice $2000 PC system... and put 5 games out there and see where the lines form.
That would be interesting.
JO: And I don't know if there would be as much of a differentiation between the lines as we might all believe on the surface. I think all these things have such strong, attractive play values and entertainment value. So it might be the short line can win right away and then as soon as the line is long people move over. Because I don't think any of the systems fail in entertainment. I don't think there's... as you said earlier, they do it differently.
Where do you see the industry skewing in five years, in terms of demographic? Is it really going to be a lot more mass-market?
JO: I certainly hope so. I’d like to believe that someone who is 35 and playing games today will be playing in 10 years going forward. I think the challenge will be creating entertainment options that mirror the other things in culture that people find entertaining. I don't think it's a limitation of technology. I think it's really... I don't think anyone could have imagined that The Sopranos was going to be a seven-year ratings... “stop everything, make sure you're in front of your set on Sunday night to see what happens this episode.”
So do we have those things within games? I think maybe certain aspects of World of Warcraft play, friends get together, things like that, but I think that there are other aspects of dedicated single games that I know that, for example Tuesday night, I'm playing Call of Duty. I know that Fridays are for Fallout, and it's... looking forward five years, what do you think is really exciting? If any of us could pick out what’s going to be popular five years down the line, we'd all be working for networks making zillions of dollars.
I actually wonder if this generation is going to last longer than previous ones. Because given the way the technology is moving and that sort of thing, it seems like the next round is going to be pretty daunting. How do you change this? How do you make it necessary to buy, the generation that we are in? I guess people say that about every generation, but this feels closer and closer to the plateau.
JO: I think that's true, and it's hard to know how the chipset people and scientists are going to be able to push delivery of screen [images], and audio, and voice. I think a lot of things like connectivity, are still undiscovered, and how to manifest that how to interface. And then we had things like the Wii, the Wii [Balance Board], and the EyeToy for example, from Sony.
Those are really good exercises in terms of getting people... to put them inside the story and that's one thing to look forward to, but I don't know that it's going to be because you can generate another half a million colors per second, or if your VRAM goes up to 16 or 64 megs, and I think it's... all those things are good, and a lot of engineers love more memory or bigger bytes or datapaths and I don't know that it's going to change the way a rock is rendered. It means we will do less cheats to try to master things.
They might just spend more time putting in detail that people probably won't see. Or they may, in fact.
JO: I think that the story and the way things are constructed are going to be really about the design process more so than in the engineering process. I think that some of David Jaffe's quotes in terms of what he likes to work on... it’s the design element, “how do I engage someone”, and “give me a small box, and what I want is way to break the box,” and I think that more and more game makers feel the same way. And I think that can be great for the future generations.
I certainly hope so. I understand the need to continue to sell upgrades, but I think that since most platform makers have always been about software sales over hardware, you know... the PS2 had a 10-year life, this generation should be able to go 10 years. Physically it should, store counts are pretty stable.