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Garriott: Consoles Are 'Fundamentally Doomed'

Jonathan Lester
Consoles, Doomed!, Portalarium, Richard Garriott

Garriott: Consoles Are 'Fundamentally Doomed'

Improving Graphics Makes For "Shallow" Games

Richard "Lord British" Garriott, Ultima developer-turned-social gaming boss, has slammed the current state of the console market - suggesting that there's probably only one more generation left before mobile and social games overtake their living room brethren. On top of that, the need for increasingly pretty games is apparently stifling creativity and depth. We're "fundamentally doomed," I tell you. Doomed!

Or maybe not. Click through to read Lord British's latest bombshell in full.

Speaking to IndustryGamers, Garriott makes his case for consoles nearing their last generation - and why mobile gaming is bound to overtake it.

I think we might get one more generation [of consoles], might, but I think fundamentally they’re doomed. I think fundamentally the power that you can carry with you in a portable is really swamping what we’ve thought of as a console.

I play most of my games now on my iPhone and my iPad. In the last two years I’ve found more games that I’ve put way more hours into playing as a player than I have in any other period of my life. So I’m very excited about the new era, I’m a big believer in this new era, but it is very early on in this evolution, so there’s still a lot of work to do.

Improving graphics and high visual expectations for new games is apparently also holding us back. Garriott believes that each new advance is followed by shallow, vapid but beautiful games - and only periods of stability allow developers to focus on gameplay over style.

There are also major moments of technological improvement. Things like going from floppy disk to hard drives, the invention of 3D graphics processors, the emergence of the Internet to connect people together.

As soon as there’s one of those big technological upheavals, I’ll say, the emergence of the CD drive. Immediately the graphic quality of the way you would draw your hallways and corridors in a simple first-person shooter became so much more beautiful that the game design, it allowed a great-selling game to be nothing more than a run-around-the-maze-and-shoot-things. It went back to its simplest form again, you didn’t need the depth.

Every one of these inflection points resets gameplay back to where games are very shallow, but much more beautiful than they ever were before. But to a person who appreciates the art form of computer games, it’s during those periods of stability of the platform that force developers to compete not just on my game looks better than yours, but my game is more interesting than yours.

Actually, we agree with him on that point. Just look at most historic launch titles. He makes an interesting argument, and you can read more through the link. However, as far as "doomed" consoles are concerned, we'd love to get your feedback!

Add a comment5 comments
Anarchist  Nov. 30, 2011 at 13:59

Lord British (being a long time Ultima/Ultima online player, it's all I'll know him as! I even remember his personal appearances in early Ultima Online!) does make some valid points.

Look at Rage - absolutely stunningly beautiful game, shallow as sin. That can be said for any number of great looking titles.

But graphics appeal to idiots and children. I'm fed up of going round to my idiot mates house and watching him spend half an hour looking at a tree, saying constantly 'oooh doesn't it look awesome'. No, it **** doesn't. If I want a tree that looks awesome I'll go outside and look at a real tree.

Uh, rambling...

belgoblacks  Nov. 30, 2011 at 14:18

The article should probably read
"self serving and proclaimed expert HOPES consoles are fundamentally doomed so as to peddle derivative, lowest common denominator tat just like everybody else." Hopes his brand of bovine excretions will float to the top quicker than competitors' so as to cash in. A man that is arguably one of the gaming industry's Simon Cowells. Only Simon comes across as painfully shy & self deprecating compared to this joker...

jk12324  Nov. 30, 2011 at 15:07


iPods and iPads have nowhere near the power that consoles have and don't forget, touchscreen controls are more often than not very clunky. Casual gamers may not mind but for the most people who would actually call themselves "gamers", the iPad/iPod will NEVER substitute for a console.

Imagine enjoying the next Metal Gear Solid game on an iPad. You can't.

JonLester  Nov. 30, 2011 at 15:14

@jk12324: Maybe the iPad needs a Circle Pad Pro? :P

J/K. Possibly. An inexpensive Bluetooth controller might be nice... but in all seriousness, tablets and mobiles are better at supporting new, exciting and (most importantly) *different* genres of game from traditional console fare. The idea that one parallel market can eclipse another is hard to swallow.

Last edited by JonLester, Nov. 30, 2011 at 15:21
Anarchist  Nov. 30, 2011 at 19:04

I agree that his thoughts on the advent of mobile gaming being the death of consoles is garbage. It will never happen. Phones or tablets will never substitute for getting three mates and some beers on a Friday nit and staying up playing mario cart.

But making games look nice DOES seem to excuse lazy developers with no innovative ideas. People will buy them no matter how bad the game is, if it is a breakthrough in appearance.


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