Over the weekend I got a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Manchester Play Expo. Over the course of two days, approximately ten-thousand people descended on the largest Northern gaming exhibition in the UK. They got to play on the latest games (And some old ones), heard developers speak one what is up and coming and even got to meet a few celebrities along the way. For myself, it would have been easy to do exactly the same and still come back home with a wealth of knowledge. However, it has to be admitted that it is a rare thing to get so many passionate gamers in one place. Perfect opportunity then, to ask the public how they feel about the current state of the gaming industry.
Generally the overall opinion was that of excitement. Those lucky gamers who were already hitching a ride on the PS4 or XBox One band wagon were pretty damn impressed with the quality of games they could get old of now. With most either praising the new graphical capabilities, or looking forward to the big up and coming games over the next year. However, there was one niggle that kept worming its way into conversation.
"Price is a problem," explained the Green Lantern (ok, he was wearing a Green Lantern hoodie but just let me embellish), "Most people I know will still wait for cheaper pre-owned copies before they buy any of the new games, and there's still loads of last gen games that are worth playing that you can pick up for a fiver."
As a matter of fact it seemed like the vast majority still found themselves playing on older titles that they knew and loved, rather than take a risk paying an excessive amount of money for something they might dislike. Watch_Dogs in particular seemed to create groans of anguish wherever it was mentioned, I even heard one guy shout "Curse you Ubisoft!" at a relatively high volume.
Considering the apparent desire for most to stick with older titles for the time being, I felt a need to ask about the recent rise of definitive editions of games like Sleeping Dogs and Tomb Raider.
"There's a temptation to buy definitive versions, just to see them look better," I was told by the one person I found who seemed about as lost in the expo as I was, "But at the end of the day, they're being remade because they got the right the first time. Other than graphics there's no real difference."
At this point I did ask if he was going to buy any of the re-releases that were already out.
"I'm going to buy the Last of Us again, but not until it's come down in price a lot more. And I may buy Sleeping Dogs but I never played the original in the first place."
What I discovered from my time amongst my fellow gamers is that their wants and desires are many, but their overall view is much the same. Many are beginning to turn away from the big releases, choosing instead to go for cheaper games, whether new or old to fill the void until the most expensive games get reduced. And although most still admitted to having that one big game that they were looking forward to enough to buy on the day of release, no one I spoke to seemed to want to do this consistently through the year. All were very excited about the year to come, if somewhat disillusioned with some of the choices made by the big name developers, and although there was a great amount of optimism, there seemed to still be a certain amount of unsaid unease about the current state of the industry. As my favourite Green Lantern even pointed out: if so many present gamers are buying pre-owned stock, where are any of the developers getting their money from?
It should be an interesting year ahead.
Do you happen to agree with the general overview by the Expo's public? Perhaps you have a different idea. Perhaps you were even at the Play Expo over the weekend! Let us know in the comments below!