Hardware and technology have played an important role in changing the shape of the console gaming market over the years. Whether it’s the actual consoles themselves or technology leading up to the consoles, there are clear and important shifts in the history of gaming. Some technologies reap instant success whereas others take a slower road. But regardless of their journey or outcome, without them it’s hard to say if video game consoles would be where they are today.
The First Coin Operated Arcade Game
In the early 1970s, Stanford University added Galaxy Game to their campus. This is believed to be the first coin operated arcade game. It started the arcade craze with reports of people waiting in line to play it for hours at a time. Later on, arcade games transitioned into actual arcades. The new innovation had gamers flocking to them, losing money a few cents at a time. Arcades will always deserve a special place in gamer history. And to think it all started on a college campus.
The First Home Gaming Console
In 1972 the Magnavox Odyssey became the first home video game console. Now there were vector display games since as early as the 1950s, but the Odyssey was the first home console that connected to people’s tvs. This moved the video game console market towards what we know it to be today. The Odyssey itself was not overly successful, but it did influence the direction that video game consoles took from then on.
The video game industry suffered a pretty huge crash in 1983, as a result of a few less than impressive consoles and games (we’re all looking at you, E.T.). Shortly after, Nintendo arrived on the scene and released the Famicom, or NES. It supported better graphics, more colors, and began the process of bringing the home console to the next step. It sold extremely well and is credited with saving the home console system after the 83 crash. Not only did it help save the industry, but it also helped to slow down the trend of just pumping out games and consoles as fast as possible which is believed to be the cause of the crash in the first place.
The Microvision was released in 1979 and was the very first handheld console that used interchangeable cartridges. Before the release of the Microvision, handheld games had been just one game, like football, and that was all that could be played on it. The idea behind the Microvision was really popular with gamers, but sadly actual developers didn’t really seem to understand it which hurt the overall sales. With future handhelds like the Game Boy, people finally started to realize that gamers were much more likely to jump at buying just one handheld device and then many games.
The DualShock controller was Sony’s first dual analog stick controller for the PlayStation. While not the first controller to use analog sticks, adding the two analog sticks really changed the future of gaming. Many different genres of games (including FPSs) seem to be completely designed around the idea of having the two analog sticks.
Honestly the Dreamcast was a huge failure. Many people blame this on the fact that the Dreamcast was a bit too advanced. One such example of this was SegaNet. It was one of the biggest attempts to bring online gaming to home consoles. While the Dreamcast may have failed, later on down the road online gaming for consoles became standard practice. Xbox Live and PlayStation Network took what SegaNet had attempted and ran with it.
The CD-Rom did a few things to change the world of gaming. First and foremost, CD-Rom changed the scope of gaming. The word epic truly could start to be applied to the scale and length of console games. Even Nintendo cartridges games grew in scale in order to compete. Secondly it brought Sony into the console wars. Sony originally was asked to create the CD-Rom for Nintendo, but when Nintendo decided to stick with cartridges Sony created the Playstation. CD-Roms became the new format for games, and Sony became a massive contender in the console wars.
Legend of Zelda and Game Saving
It’s hard to think back on the time when you could not save a game. If you failed and got a game over you either had to completely restart or use codes to create forward progress. Legend of Zelda came along with the ability to save your progress and completely changed the gaming world. While there wasn’t an instant sensation, a few games still did not allow saving, it slowly became more and more popular. It also encouraged developers to create more adventure games because it made more sense now that saving progress was something that people could do.
DVD Feedback and the Start of Full Entertainment Systems
This bit of technology and shift is debatable as to whether or not it was a good thing for the gaming world. While actually putting games on DVDs was good because developers could add more content, the desire to have consoles play movies shifted the gaming world. With the Xbox 360 and PS3 and continuing with the PS4 and Xbox One, there seems to be a shift in what exactly gaming consoles are being used for. Consoles seem to want to split their time and resources between being an actual gaming console and being a full entertainment package. The ability to use streaming apps is fairly important to some gamers, and it has also brought many people to the gaming world. Many gamers complain about gaming not being the most important focus anymore, while others say that not having the ability to even play DVDs has hurt the Wii U sales. Whether you are for or against this shift, it’s hard to deny that it has shaped and changed consoles.