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How the video game giants predicted the future of video games in 2004

How the video game giants predicted the future of video games in 2004

Eighteen years ago, gamers still had a PlayStation 2 in their living room. Xbox 360 was still called Xbox Next. And the Wii was called by its code name: the Nintendo Revolution. Little did we know we were on the verge of a changing tide in gaming, where the number of people playing games would increase exponentially – and there was certainly no way to predict what would happen today. today.

That hasn’t stopped a handful of brave developers from giving it a shot, however. It was 2004, I was working at CNN, and I ask the question in front of a variety of high profile developers and executives at the time: what would gaming systems look like in 2025?

We’re not quite there, of course, but we’re close enough to get an idea of ​​the level of their psychic powers. So how did they do it? In general, it’s going very well.

Of course, not everyone’s predictions came true. Yuji Naka, creator of Sega Sonic series, for example, said he envisions the industry developing “3D projection technology that will allow you to play games without a monitor. Sonic will be on and the game will be happening right in front of or around you!”

Obviously, that didn’t happen. That said, Naka might ultimately be right. Microsoft, in 2013, announced it was working on the proof-of-concept system called RoomIllumi, which increases the area beyond the TV screen with projected visuals. It’s a little short on holograms, but (if Microsoft ever releases it) it could definitely make games much more immersive.

Certainly the funniest future guess that didn’t pan out belonged to Bioware co-founder Greg Zeschuk (who retired in 2012 and is now a craft beer brewer). He was imagining… well, let his words speak for themselves.

“I think a scenario where we’re all using virtual controllers with no physical representation is going to be quite likely,” Zeschuk said. “These controllers can use magnetic fields or optical systems like those used in current motion capture setups. …another option is a direct entry into the player’s nervous system (i.e. a spine entry port on the back of the neck), but that still sounds pretty wacky…and scary.

Getting it wrong is part of the risk (and fun) of a pie-in-the-sky prognosis, especially in a rapidly changing industry. What’s particularly impressive, however, is how well many game makers have come to predict elements of today’s gaming world almost 20 years ago.

Will Wrightwho is behind The Sims and so many other seminal, roughly successful games predicting that video games would spread far beyond dedicated systems and become ubiquitous on a variety of electronic devices, even if he was a bit pessimistic about longevity console systems.

“In 2025, I doubt we’ll even have something we call ‘gaming machines,'” he said. “We don’t have dedicated ‘movie machines’, but we have many different devices that can play and display movies as well as other media. …Movies have become a very portable form of media that can live on all of this. I think we’re starting to see the game evolve and branch out in the same way. »

While virtual reality remains has not quite reached its potential yet, it’s far from the outlier and pipe dream it was in the early 2000s. And Facebook/Meta hopes to make it a big part of the metaverse. Bioware’s other co-founder, Ray Muzyka (who retired from the industry in 2012 and is now a Canada-based angel investor and mentor) saw his potential in 2004, saying, “I expect looking forward to true virtual reality in games 20 years from now, where you can fully immerse yourself in the action and storyline.

And Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games, was equally enthusiastic about the technology, especially when it came to ways to interact with games. (He also predicted technology that would be realized six years later with Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing input device.)

“Let’s get rid of the TV and create a more compelling head-mounted 3D display,” he said. “Let’s take the controllers out of players’ hands and instead create the feeling of holding a baseball bat or swinging a sword. And forget the keyboards – even now many games are really starting to take advantage of the things you can do with voice commands.

Since 2004, the video game industry has seen annual sales jump from $7 billion to $121 billion, according to The NPD Group. It’s a very different world than it was when Nintendogs and Pro Evolution Football 5 ruled the charts. But even then, there were people who saw the future and planned for it, even if they weren’t always 100% right.