At GDC, David Perry organized an illuminating and exclusive "Lunch With the Luminaries" which brought together Peter Molyneux, Phil Harrison, Chris Taylor, Raph Koster and Neil Young to discuss issues at the core of the games industry's future.
The discussion began with the topic of innovation -- the concept as posed by David Braben that there have not yet been any truly next-generation games.
Neil Young brought up two important points: "Everything is incremental to some degree." Blaming incremental improvements in development is aside from the point, in other words -- that's how things naturally happen. And the uptake of truly innovative games may be difficult for the audience, according to Young. The lack of success with innovation "speaks to the customer too."
Raph Koster, of course, feels that true innovation stems from the network. When it comes to innovation, "It's not the graphics, right? Xbox Live is the next gen game you play on 360. It's the connectivity and the meta games. Next-next-gen will cut across more platforms." According to Koster, the experience will be interconnected across multiple platforms and media.
Sony's Phil Harrison agreed. "It won't be characterized by graphics processors or media, but by services, all the things that are new. It will be the space between that creates the value."
Harrison explained that he pushed social gaming in the form of Buzz and Singstar onto Sony Japan, only to be told Japanese players are not social gamers and that these products had no future in Japan -- only for the Wii to come out, and as it does in North America and Europe, market itself as a social gaming engine. "How pissed off was I?" he griped.
This led Peter Molyneux to mull over what the very concept of next-gen gaming is. "If I was a consumer, what would I be thinking is next gen -- Call of Duty 4 or Wii? I suspect that we get excited by great and creative ideas but what do consumers get excited about?"
When it comes to the possibilities for next generation experiences, Molyneux agreed that it'll be in the collaboration between different media. "We have a lot of things colliding together."