New things always have a certain allure to them. The fact that they are different and people are generally curious makes something new seem better. Most of the times we are influenced by our own preconceived notion of what a product should be, and that can be both good and bad, but in the end it's a bias view of what is actually there. This is the dilema I always face when trying to move to a new console. It's because of my distrust of the new that has me holding off from entering a new console generation. I typically buy into the "next" generation typically 5 years after their release. It's not ideal, and I feel like I miss out from a lot of new experiences, but to me the older generation of consoles always have a lot to offer.
Companies who have a low moral compass will release an inferior product to its consumers, but this is not the crux of the issue, this happens all the time whether it's a crossgen title or not. The problem comes in how a crossgen game is presented to the consumer. There are many signs which show a companies intent with an old generation game which foreshadow how good or bad the game will be and how the company truly feels about it. The first thing to note is that any footage from the older generation console versions are always omitted during press conferences and online videos. The company will ONLY show footage of the Next Generation game. This is never a good indication, granted it could always mean that the team is still working on the older generation game, but most of the times they are just not willing to show the inferior product… but are still wiling to sell it.
I encountered this during the PS2 and PS3 transition with Spiderman Web of Shadows. I remember looking at the game and thinking "I would play that", but I still owned a PS2. I kept thinking, "Spiderman 2 wasn't a bad game", they could definitely pull off a PS2 version of this game. I couldn’t for the life of me find any footage of the PS2 version of this game. I decided to wait until the game was released and someone posted gameplay videos on YouTube. When I finally saw the game I was in disbelief, I felt sorry for whatever poor soul bought this game expecting to get something else. The game was was a side scrolling platformer, like the Spiderman game for the Game Boy, and when you looked at the back of the case all they showed was cutscene footage. This is like your child watching you cook delicious meal and when the family sits down to eat the parents get the food they cooked but the child gets porridge for dinner…
The intent of this article is not to belittle the efforts made by studios to release a game for multiple console generations but to raise awareness to consumers and what they could expect from a multi generation release. Consumers need to be aware of what they are buying, some may think that not providing any information whatsoever on the game is not misleading but no good will come out of it if the only media been shown for the game is for the next gen version. This always reminds me to the inflatable toys that have a box art that shows the toy bigger and better than what is actually inside. The fact that these are sometimes released in tandem, with the same box art sends a message, "These two game versions are equal".
Things like this make me want to move to the new console generation, but large purchases like these are not easy to make, especially when you have a family to support. Additionally, I feel that late in a console generations life is where a consumer gets to enjoy that console's true potential. You can play its best games for an affordable price and get the latest console model with the biggest HDD. Until support for the old gen console is non existent the decision to move on to next gen is just not there. This means that cross generation game development should be thought through. Game companies should be asking, is there a business case for a cross generation title or should we focus our entire team on the next gen release? Consumers also need to play their role by voting with their dollars and being more aware that as games start shifting towards the next console generation, some sacrifices will be seen in the quality of the previous generation.
Let us know what your experience has been with crossgen titles in the comments below.