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Next Generation Consoles Will Kill Young Gamers - My dream for the PS4 and Xbox 720
I have a dream. It's a weird, nasty dream, like that one where I run dad over. But like that dream it's still good; I still want it to happen.
This won't earn me any compliments on N4G or anywhere else this article ends up, but I'm fed up with games being targeted at young men. Teenage boys are routinely in the crosshairs of game publishers. Call of Duty, Dead Space and all those other games with zombies and guns in them are regular smash hits, aimed directly at adolescent males, their power fantasies and their disposable incomes.
Like comic books and scuzz music, videogames are into this repeating pattern of violence and anger, a pattern cultivated by game labels to chime with their core demographic. And it's boring.
I'm getting older now. I read the paper and drink real coffee and trim my nostrils. I still love videogames but I'm not interested in blowing up the central core to stop the Covenant anymore, or getting a flash of boob off the sexy princess I rescued. That stuff's tired. I know now of a bigger world. There's Syria and MRSA and Halliburton and Ke$ha - these are real-life problems I'm concerned about and I'd like if videogames paid attention to them as well.
So, I want to pull games away from that lucrative, pocket-monied core market of teenage boys. But how? Well,with the next generation of consoles, hopefully.
This is my dream. It might sound a bit out of whack, but I've had analysts tell me it's kind of, maybe possible, so stay with me.
The cost of development is going to go up. The estimates I've been given put the prictag of making a next gen AAA game at around $100 million (£65m). If games are going to survive in anything like their current form, the way we buy them needs to change.
This is why there's talk of banning second hand games: If everyone is paying full price, it'll foot more costly development.
And I hope it happens; I hope games become more expensive on the consumer end.
I want teenage boys to be priced out of videogames, basically. I feel icky writing that and I know it sounds a bit Darth Maul, but my dream is that if games become more expensive, fewer and fewer young people are going to buy them. If you're charging £60 a throw, or asking people to pay full-price every time, then those youngsters living off allowances or Saturday jobs aren't going to have the cash to keep buying games: That market is going to slow right down.
The people that will still be able to buy games will be people who are working; older people; people with nose hair and cafetieres (it's my flatmates, not mine.) As games become more expensive, the market will naturally shift to people with more money. The target demographic will become thirty somethings instead of teenagers.
And that will mean, in my mad, top-down dream world at least, different subject matter. Games become more expensive - less kids buy them - games have to appeal to adults. By this logic, what I'm hoping for on the next console generation is a maturation of subject matter. I'm hoping for videogames that will appeal to grown-up tastes. Money is a language publishers and console makers understand. If they find all of sudden that their target market is now watching Newsnight, they'll have to start watching Newsnight, too.
I know that a complete market switch is far-fetched, but I'm at least hoping for some diversity this next generation. For so, so long - since they began, in fact - videogames have been for teenage boys. When I was a teenage boy, that was fine, but now I'm bored and actually, vaguely embarrassed by all the cleavage and the blood and the pwnage. I'm 23. When I go home for Christmas I want to play something with my family that makes my job look proper, and all this anime, space soldier naff isn't cutting it.
So, yeah, although I don't like the idea of people being unable to afford what makes them happy, I also don't like the idea of games being the way they are now, forever, and this next gen re-pricing we're talking about sounds like an opportunity for things to change.
If it came down to one or the other, if someone said, you can have AAA games about Watergate or you can make millions of teenagers less miserable, then obviously I'm not going to be the Grinch That Stole Black Ops.
But at least imagine it; imagine a world where videogames are targeted at grown ups rather than children. It's looking somewhat plausible now and to me, it's much more exciting.