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Is the Future of Consoles Arcade?


As I can't help but keep pointing out, last year was a big one for games. There were plenty of big names, big sequels and big awards thrown around. And I'm not just referring to Skyrim. But what might have been eclipsed by these massive titles is the amazing range of games that were deployed on systems like Steam, Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network.

While the money is and always has been in big game development, we are approaching a crossroads in games where there is a increasing focus on the smaller titles. Much like how there are a few great movies a year but dozens of great tv shows, these smaller (and cheaper to develop) titles might not make as much money or as noticeable an impact, but that doesn't change the fact that they are becoming a new frontier for gaming.

Wind back the clock a few years (if your clock has years) and the titles on Xbox Live Arcade (and the other systems like it) were mostly poor ports of classic PC games like Worms, or were a gimmicky way to spend 800 Microsoft points on a game you could throw on for 2 minutes while you were waiting for your food to microwave.

However this began to change with titles like From Dust, Bastion and Trenched - which brought sophisticated graphics and gameplay into our homes for a fraction of the price of their AAA big brothers. While, understandably, these games might be a bit shorter or a bit less involved on the gameplay side - they quickly proved they could equal or even surpass the bigger title games in certain areas. Whether it's the amazing graphics of From Dust, the heartstopping soundtrack of Bastion or the addictive tower defense-style gameplay of Trenched - these games quickly went from small purchases while you wait on a release date to anticipated releases themselves.

They even created a new option for series that found they couldn't quite compete at the big boy level. Most people would recognise the horror title Alan Wake, which suffered from mediocre sales (unjustly in my opinion, that's a great game). But surprisingly, instead of going the way of Blur, the planned sequel was instead converted to an Arcade title - and so the series lives on.

And so with this in mind, while I'm looking forward to big games on the horizon like Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite, I'd remind everyone to keep an eye out for their smaller siblings - games like Journey and the recently released Gotham City Impostors. These games might lack the motion-picture appeal of titles which set you back $100, but they more than likely contain atleast $50 worth of value - and for a 10th of the price. Can you say the same for the bigger name titles which let you down - Vanquish - ?

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