The new issue of XBW is on sale now.
The next generation is going to be hard. Hard on developers, who'll have to spend more money than ever on building games that look the part. Hard on the console manufacturers, who'll have to recoup their vast R&D and production costs during an extended global downturn, all while the games industry fragments across mobile, web and the cloud. And hard on players who will be asked to pay even more for their games.
If Sony think they can charge £45 for a PS Vita launch title, just imagine what Microsoft think they can charge for Halo 5. It has the potential to explode in the faces of all involved.
I have an answer. Console manufacturers need to let the industry give away their games. Hear me out. I'm a visitor from PC land, here to tell you about the amazing shift in how we play and pay for games that's occurred in the past couple of years. It's called 'free-to-play', and it's changing our world. It works like this: a developer makes a game, and then gives it away. They aim for as wide distribution as possible, then include hooks for DLC, microtransactions and donations. And they get rich.
If you're shaking your head right now, I understand. I used to hate free-to-play.
It was shorthand for 'crap'. Free-to-play games were inevitably low rent, low quality DLC gouges. But then they got good. Really, really good. Take League of Legends - it's a kind of competitive tower defence game. You and four friends have to attack an enemy base alongside waves of AI soldiers, while the opposing team do the same.
The fun part is the characters you play; over 60 of them. There are creepy looking aliens, heroic paladins, cute bunny things, cowboys, pirates... anything goes. Every week, the developers make ten of those champions available for free. You play for a week to see if you like them. If you do, they're available to buy. If not, there's a new rotation available shortly. It's not just a successful game. It's also a great game - incredibly fun to play with friends.