Sunday, May 01, 2005

Instant Access to Games - Breaking Barriers to Gameplay

I am not really a hard-core gamer, but I do love games, and the gaming industry - so part of me wishes I was. I realize that I have so many things I want to do in an average day, that I generally do not spend hours and hours at a console or my PC trying to beat a game. I may want to, but I don't have the time, and the accessibility of games can be a barricade to their use. So many games require a large "investment" of time, and sometimes, you just want a quick fix. My new PSP is actually filling this role, and the compelling console like experience it offers really draws you in. I can play it for 5, 10, or 60 minutes in a sitting...a quick flip of the sleep switch and you can pick it back up later right where you left off. This feature needs to find its way into consoles. We have laptops, desktops, PDAs, and game devices that sleep at the touch of a button or switch, but our consoles are either on or off. Sure you can pause and come back later, but that wastes electricity, and wears down the life of the unit (if it's always ON), and is not the same thing. This instant access in and out of a game is a killer application for the casual gamer, and if the next gen consoles want to learn a way to draw in "casual gamers" and not just a burgeoning group of hardcore gamers, they need to make ways for people to play for shorter bursts of time, and still offer the same compelling experience. I am not talking about making "cute" little games that are ports of old classics, I want this feature in every game. I would love to be able to hit one button on my Xbox, and play a quick round of Halo 2 online, then put it back to sleep. The process should only take a few seconds more than the length of the online round. Right now, I must turn on my Xbox, let it run through it's boot sequence, load the game, then I have to sign in to XBox Live, select my character, fire up the XBLive option, and then away I go. Sure, this only takes a few minutes of time, but if you want to play a 5 minute round online, and have to wait 40-50 percent of that time for booting up, loading, and signing in, then it becomes a barricade to playing the game. My new PSP gets use because it's so easy to use; and at the flip of a switch, I can stow it away for days and pick it right back up where I left off whenever I wish. Breaking down barriers to gameplay draws in a larger customer base, and will ensure even greater success for game companies in the future.

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