In 1998 Dreamcast opened the next generation in consoles. Dreamcast would be Sega’s last console and this generation of consoles saw Sony rocket to success with PlayStation. Nintendo was still in the mainstream but had fallen behind in Sony’s shadow. Valve debuted with their first game Half-Life. It later would be released on PlayStation 2 in 2001.
In 2000, shortly after Dreamcast came the PlayStation 2 which was an instant success. Nintendo released the GameCube a year later and didn’t do as well because it was labelled as a kids console and lacked third party games.
In 2001 Microsoft entered the console market and released Xbox. The console had sold relatively well but sold considerably more when Halo: Combat Evolved was released for it. In this console war Xbox managed to beat the GameCube in sales but PlayStation 2 was the winner with its massive sales. Grand Theft Auto III was also released this year and because of its open world feature and commercial success it is considered a milestone in gaming. Although the GameCube had not done as well as the other generation consoles Nintendo dominated the handheld market. The Game Boy Advanced was released and helped keep Nintendo’s market position. The N-Gage was also released but failed to pull any significant sales. The consoles released more mature games and Nintendo tried to stop their kiddy image by releasing T and M rated games. This included games such as Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil 4.
2002 was the year PCI Express was considered standard and helped games develop more detail and more complex systems to produce higher quality games. It also starts the rise of computer games and the use of internet within games.
In 2003, Valve released Steam. Valve’s aim was to use Steam as a way to install updates for games and soon found publishers to release their games on the Steam Network. This was enforced during the beta with Counter-Strike updates.
In 2004 Nintendo released Nintendo DS. It introduced handhelds to two screens but also touchscreen. It was a major success for Nintendo which rockets their sales. Bundled with Nintendogs it was also targeted to females. 2004 saw the release of World of Warcraft. It is the most successful MMORPG to date. Although it used a lot of ideas from RPGs and other MMOs it was the only one that became a massive hit and really pushed PC gaming online. Half-life 2 was also released on PC this year. The sequel to Half-Life, it introduced advanced physics, animations, AI and graphics and became the best-selling PC game.
2005, Sony released PSP very soon after the Nintendo DS. Although it had superior graphics and power it didn’t appeal to the mass consumer so Nintendo remained the leaders in the handheld market. Later in the year Microsoft released Xbox 360. It sold out in all regions except Japan and offered Xbox Live service to all players and introduced the arcade games download, game demos and trailers on the Xbox Live system. Special Edition Xbox 360 consoles were released with big title games such as Halo 3 and Resident Evil 5.
In 2006 Nintendo released Wii and Sony released PlayStation 3. Wii revolutionised modern gaming with the controllers using motion to control the game mechanics. It was a massive success for Nintendo and sold more units than Sony and Xbox with their rival consoles. Wii had several flagship titles expected to be released shortly after the console. It also featured Super Mario Galaxy which was a new dimension for the Mario series being introduced to space and gravity. This was released shortly after the console in 2007. Nintendo also released Nintendo DS Lite which was a lighter, slimmer and brighter.With the next generation of consoles released by 2007 it set standards for future consoles. The addition of hard drive space and motion controllers continued to be introduced to updated models of the consoles. The consoles also rivalled PCs with the amount of power and processing the systems had.
2008 was the year Grand Theft Auto IV was released. It broke record sales in its first week and Nintendo released Wii Fit which made a great hit with consumers to get fit in their homes. PC games become very popular with the release of World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, hard core online gaming began to form and many tournaments with prize money and live streaming took place to boost the PC gaming scene.
In 2009 Wii Sports became the best-selling video game of all time.
At the beginning of this century games were starting to utilize 3D. With the constant upgrades made in processing and graphical processing it allowed games to become more complex and more detailed. This meant for a higher quality in games and took longer to produce. Many games were delayed because of this and many more remain delayed with the high standard asked today. There are many pressures now with studios trying to make high quality games in little time and also adding new technology to them including motion control. The industry will be pushing motion control for a long time and develop much more wholesome games but at a soaring cost and expense. Most games today rely on a massive sale to make back the money the studios put in to making these games but many aren’t able and with the recent downturn in the economy many companies are finding themselves out of business spending too much money on making top quality games.