Has This Gen Lost the “Wow” Factor?

n64One of the defining moments in my life as a gamer happened at a locally owned video game store down the highway from my house. I remember I used to walk there every day, simply to see what used games I could pick up, or what new games they had on display. The owner even let you put in whatever you wanted so you could try it out right there.

One day, I walked up to the counter and saw a game I had never seen before: Super Mario 64. I was fascinated. Watching my favorite plumber fully realized in 3D was like nothing I had experienced. I waited in line and didn’t leave the store for another hour as I shot myself out of cannons and ran around in the lush green Mushroom Kingdom. I remember leaving the store that day fascinated, bewitched even by this game that had simply floored me. I was wowed.

Every few years, the gaming world is rocked by a title that defines a console, or even a generation of consoles. These games tend to stick with us, really latching onto us for years to come in a way that doesn’t seem to want to let go. For me, Super Mario 64 probably defines this idea, because I don’t know if I’ve ever been wowed by a game so singularly as I was for that one.

A similar thing happened when I played Metal Gear Solid the next year. It’s that moment where you’re interacting with the game, watching what’s taking place on screen, and thinking to yourself, “I’ve never played a game like this”. And it’s a good feeling. However, it seems to me that those feelings are fleeting fast in today’s gaming generation.

codThat’s not to say that there aren’t any good games. Or great games, even. Heck, this generation has brought us Metal Gear Solid 4, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Gears of War 2, and I could go on. There are lots of great games to be played. But I’m not sure if there have been that many games that have wowed me in recent years, that have really stuck to me like glue or permanent marker does, where I can’t seem to shake it off.

What does that say about this generation? Are we becoming spoiled by the quality of current video game titles? Or are we simply playing too many clones of games that we’ve been playing for years and years? It’s no secret that the majority of AAA games these days are first person shooters, or related to zombies, or happen to be sequels.

It makes me wonder when that next title is going to come along and really sweep us off our feet. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wow moments this generation. But I haven’t been wowed throughout the course of a game, unable to get over how exciting and fresh it feels.

So what about you guys? Do you think this generation is losing the “wow” factor of gaming? What was the last game that you played that really made a huge impression on you, for the whole game through? I think for me, it may have to be the first Gears of War or maybe Call of Duty 4, but both of those pale in comparison to the earlier example I offered of Super Mario 64.

Tell us your thoughts! Go!

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

22 thoughts on “Has This Gen Lost the “Wow” Factor?”

  1. It’s losing the WOW factor because the new generation created a new type of WOW factor 😐

    We are interested in stuff life L4D, zombies and fps for this generation. For the old generation, we liked everything because everything was a brand new experience.

    The games that WOW’d me would probably be Portal and maybe GTA4. Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, Bioshock are all good too.
    The Wii didn’t WOW me personally, I still have yet to play more than 30 minutes on one, but it seems that motion technology and Nintendo are making it big with sales. It’s a new approach to gaming that I like. (That one game “Flower” looked really nice in my eyes…)

    I guess it all really depends on the person. A person who likes the FF series will be WOW’d a lot in the new gen, but a person who likes Pacman will be different.

  2. The problem with this gen of gaming is that with new technology comes an increasing difficulty to develop games. Yes, there are more powerful tools, but when’s the last time that a developer said it could take 8 years to develop a game? Heck, Gaming as we know it has only been around for a little over a decade, and look at how many games there are. Even Valve, notorious as they are for their long timetables, have managed to develop close to 20 games in the past ten years or so. But now we’re lucky to see a game every two years from most developers. Not to mention the new DLC epidemic – developers are spending more time on less, and charging for it. AND they’re making their games ‘disposable’, so that we bore of the original game and feel compelled to buy the next one. But back to my original point, we as gamers expect a lot out of games these days, and to come up with something groundbreaking is an increasingly difficult task as genres are exhausted and development times take longer.
    …That and the fact that as children, we’re probably more easily impressed.

  3. I think that this gen simply hasn’t had enough time. LittleBigPlanet WOWS me, but in a different way than games have in the past.

    I think that we have to adjust our expectations. Gaming is still a young medium, but time moves fast for us. Games that are 4 years old seem ancient to us now. RE4 wowed me, as did FFIV, VI and VII. Call of Duty 4 wowed me, also.

    Portal was another one.Hell, for Eddy, Mario 64 was a shock, for me, Super Mario World was the ultimate in memorable Mario moments. With so much hype and the internet, it is harder to wow us. Gamers are jaded.

    Look at Bioshock 2. The first game was one of the best ever, but gamers are wary of the new one.

    For real? These guys have done no wrong, they made an almost perfect game and yet people are already doubting the sequel. Gimme a break. It’s no wonder that we don’t feel wowed.

  4. That’s actually a really good point. It might be harder to wow people in general, given how much is available to us at all times.

  5. I agree with you on Super Mario 64. It still sits at #1 on my gaming list. I think that you have a very valid point here with out ‘loss of the wow factor’ with our current generation.

    In my mind we lost a lot of ‘wow’ when technology really leveled out, perhaps lets say with the 360. When things went from 2D to never before seen 3D worlds like SM64 and Mario Kart, along with other titles, we got a dose of something we have never seen. Games then got different in terms of how they were played, I think we started to evolve and see what people liked the most as far as gameplay and type. Once we hit the age of the 360, it seems that only graphics are left to ‘wow’ gamers.

    That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything new to games other than their looks, but right now its getting hard to find new concepts. I think it will take the next large step in the technological field to give us a really “WOW” feeling like you got with Super Mario 64. IT was totally new. First 3D world like that. Lately its been getting harder to get that kind of feeling. I think that once we hit a new technological leap, allowing something never before done, we may see something truly awe-inspiring. Though some can argue that the Wii and motion sensing was our latest leap, and that to me didn’t do too much.

    Honestly I think game types are going to need to get very clever. I still remember going ‘wow’ to Oblivion, it was the first game of its type I played. I think we have very muchly lost the ‘wow’ that older games gave us, but other things wow us in other ways today

  6. [quote comment=”5445″]I think that this gen simply hasn’t had enough time. LittleBigPlanet WOWS me, but in a different way than games have in the past.

    I think that we have to adjust our expectations. Gaming is still a young medium, but time moves fast for us. Games that are 4 years old seem ancient to us now. RE4 wowed me, as did FFIV, VI and VII. Call of Duty 4 wowed me, also.

    Portal was another one.Hell, for Eddy, Mario 64 was a shock, for me, Super Mario World was the ultimate in memorable Mario moments. With so much hype and the internet, it is harder to wow us. Gamers are jaded.

    Look at Bioshock 2. The first game was one of the best ever, but gamers are wary of the new one.

    For real? These guys have done no wrong, they made an almost perfect game and yet people are already doubting the sequel. Gimme a break. It’s no wonder that we don’t feel wowed.[/quote]
    [quote comment=”5448″]That’s actually a really good point. It might be harder to wow people in general, given how much is available to us at all times.[/quote]

    I definitely have to agree with you guys here. Even though I’m only 17, I think of myself in the older generation because I’m just not into music games and the Wii and whootnot as much as I should be. I mean, even Halo and Gears. They’re great, but yeah they don’t wow me. I think that as gamers have started to accept the amazing as “normal”. I think that, in life in general, this is happening. Look at this video [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jETv3NURwLc ] I don’t know if that was posted on here. Maybe I think. By Eddy. But uh, yeah, this guy has got it down. People are jaded overall, not just gamers. I think that the only thing that will really wow us gamers & stick with us for more than 5 months max would be a game that doesn’t even have a genre, or hasn’t been developed similarly to any other game. I.E. a totally new gaming system with totally new game types. Maybe that’s what the Wii was going for. But they decided to appeal to only one market, and that was weak.

  7. Yep, there’s a definite lack of “wow” in the big name titles these days. (Maybe because of WoW…Coincidence?)

    The last title to really impress me was Gears one, just because the cover system blew my tiny mind. I’ve played a lot of games over the past few months that were supposed to have bottled the proverbial lightning, but the most they’ve given me is a mild shock. Fallout 3 came the closest, but there’s just something missing.

    Maybe I’ve become jaded from my life as a gamer (like Anthony said), where it takes significantly more thrills to titillate me. I hate to use the phrase “step up your game”, but maybe the industry needs some fresh new blood. Even “innovators” like Wil Wright, Hideo Kojima and Sid Meier seem to be relying on their old tricks.

    Oh, I just want to mention the least “wow” game I’ve played so far this gen. Bioshock. Maybe because I’m late to the ’59 New Years party, but I just couldn’t get into it. Oddly enough, it felt sort of dated, and didn’t exactly leave me clamoring for a sequel.

  8. Wow, is an expression to be said when something is astonishing and new. Once you say it for one thing, you won`t say it again the next time.

    My point is, once a gen starts, the earliest games gets all the wow`s. But the games that are like the early games, nothing is new, ending up to be less wow`s. It dosen`t mean the game sucks, just the amount of astonishment’s lowers.

    So, it happens every generation. Nothing to worry about. 😀

  9. I think to see “wow” you’ve gotta look at some great indie games. I guess that only applies to PC gamers generaly. But if you havent had a chance to play World Of Goo, you’re in for a WOW. It’s artistic style definetly reminds me of LBP, but the physics-based puzzles are simply… wow.

    This new gen is definitely focused on adding sugar to old cookies. i.e adding co-op is a big deal ; but the game istelf is typically the same old thing, we’re just distracted by the co-op. An entire new idea is stuff like FEZ (as seen in a previous post) or World Of Goo. These types of games are certainly not for everyone; but finding an FPS or RTS that both Revolutionizes the “WOW” and still maintains the fans of previous FPS and RTS will be difficult for even the best developers.

  10. I think that, although there have been many brilliant games in this generation, much of the “wow factor” of each game is centred around one aspect of the game.
    For example, Mirror’s Edge was graphically one of the wow-est games in recent times, but i found it incredibly frustrating to play and still havent finished an entire play through.
    Mass Effect, on the other hand, had a great storyline and had easy controls to master, but perhaps didnt quite stack up to some other games in terms of AI or graphics.
    This does not detract from the fact that there have been some truly awesome games in this generation – but i think the main reason that no games have an overall wow factor is that (for want of a better phrase) its all been done before.
    Super Mario 64 was the first to nail the 3D platform game. Ocarina of time still remains one of the best games in terms of storyline, hidden secrets, and an entire world for us to explore. The original 2D top-down GTA games, while relatively poor graphically, introduced to the gaming “sandbox”, anybody could spend hours on these games and not advance the storyline at all.
    Granted this is just my opinion, but i think that most of what i’ve said would be universal to most people with even a modest background in gaming. I’m not someone who has every console and has bought every blockbuster game to be released – this is the reason i havent talked about the halo series or bioshock, i havent played them and have no idea how they stack up against other current games.

  11. WoW gave me a wow feeling for the whole play through. Got to lvl 58 and then it was all grinding an unknown territory in the dungeons and stuff so I gave it up. Still it was a great game and would like to play it again but I just can’t get that wow feeling any more.

  12. I think the fact that as a culture we’ve become so cynical and critical of every damn thing is part of it. But, I also think that there haven’t really been any “classics” this gen. There have been good games, but nothing that is an A+ in my mind.

    The closest games to greatness IMO have been Bioshock, LittleBigPlanet and Portal.
    Bioshock did give me some of that “wow” factor. Exploring Rapture for the first time is one of the most immersive/intense experiences I’ve ever had in a video game.
    LittleBigPlanet’s music, level design and aesthetic are simply amazing, and continued to “wow” me w/ every new world. Media Molecule knocked one out of the park w/ LBP.
    Portal… ok, actually Portal probably was an A+. I love that game, and it’s pretty much perfect.

    But you have a point; I think that while we are getting more “good” games than ever, there aren’t many “great” games anymore.

  13. The Only thing to wow me so far (this gen) was definitely portal. the fact that a puzzle game can be that kickass (plus the fun things you can do with portals) makes for a great experience. however, I think that the current cultural climate (and more importantly, the ECONOMIC climate) have pushed us into a state of a more negative feeling mindset than in the past. my two cents

  14. Well, this Gen I’d say COD4. That was the first game game I’d played on my PS3 (back when it was smudgeless) and I was blown away. The graphics coupled with gameplay were amazing. I enjoyed Gears of War, but apart from the lancer and shiny graphics it wasn’t THAT amazing. Great, but not this WOW factor. I was going to say MGS4, but really, I only love it as much as I do as it was a fanboy service of epic proportions. So like Gears, just the tiniest bit off WOW! Assasians Creed was certainly an experience and shows us the polish that graphics and animation can have but also mundane tasks have been preserved. Oblivion was amazing and maybe the only other WOW so far. I’ll prolly think of one at some point.

  15. This gen has actually been pretty awesome, personally. I have to admit, there have been past gens that felt more alive because most the titles that we take for granted nowadays were just starting back then. But since I’m too lazy to reminisce, I’ll just focus on this gen.

    Halo 3 wowed me just because I was omgasming all over the screen as I played it. But then I looked back and realized, compared to Halo 1’s awe factor and Halo 2’s story, Halo 3 was…mediocre. Maybe that’s harsh, but everything from the environments to the feel to the writing to the flow of the campaign felt more fresh, alive, and awesome in the early titles. Halo 3 seemed shallow in terms of characters and story, and even rushed by the end of the campaign. The fact that Cortana is only present for one and a half missions is probably what subtracted from the feel. Sure the combat was fine-tuned from the other titles and the graphics were better, but if Halo 1 or 2 were made with current gen graphics, it’d be the same.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a drag.

    On a higher note, Assassin’s Creed was amazing because the environments were spectacular and very accessible. But even though Jerusalem was so big, it never felt empty or the same. The crowd factor kept it alive, working, and realistic. People complain about the repetitive missions, but I suppose that earlier games had more repetition than AC, and it never bothered me. Plus, the assassinations were more than worth it. While the modern aspect of the story could honestly go, the ancient made up for it by being pure awesome. AC was sort of the last of its kind – the platformer adventure action – and was a culmination of that genre.

    Once I finished AC, I moved on to a title I had never really played because I was a kid and the series was more mature than I thought I should play. Now that I felt old enough to get my hands on it, I got Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. When I played it, Halo 3 was expunged from my memory. The graphics, the gameplay, the environment, the realism, the story, the multiplayer. CoD4 raped me and I loved it! It’s hard to put into words how much CoD4 began a new chapter in my life. I now made a list of games that dominated my life, and those games were known as my all-time favorites. Ocarina of Time, the Halo series, AC, CoD4, and the other games I’ll get to are my favorite games of all time, and it’s all because the following game surpassed the previous game in terms of awesomocity.

    Anyway, back to CoD4. For the solo story and all that, CoD4 was leaps and bounds over Halo in terms of graphics, 60 FPS-ness, and an eerily plausible storyline involving Ruskies, Arabs, and Nukes (RAN). While the premise seems cheesy when you think about it, CoD4 delivers it in a very natural and realistic manner, and honestly it feels like the story just happened to be about that stuff, and that trying to veer away from RAN would seem unnatural. What’s also cool is that somehow, I really became attached to my squad members, Cpt. Price, Gaz, Griggs, Vasquez, and even MacMillan who’s only around for two bloody missions. Heck, Imran Zakhaev is such a badass, you hate him just because he’s a badass! It’s also nice that you can shoot the main bad guy as opposed to, I don’t know, simply defusing his nuke or whatever. Now, multiplayer. The class/perks system was ingenious, and now we’re seeing that gameplay mechanic being implemented in several other games, like Killzone 2 and Resistance 2. It was really the first game to add an RPG element to a multiplayer FPS, and I still love to this day for that. (OMG MODERN WARFARE 2!!) As for CoD:WaW…ah, it was good. I mean it was in the Pacific and Ostfront, and had really intense gameplay and story. It even had Jack Bauer! Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as epic or fresh as CoD4, and while I do love it, it was more of a WWII mod of CoD4. Yeah, that’s sorta harsh.

    The next game that replaced CoD4 was Fallout 3. And it blew my mind. Yeah, twice in one gen. Fallout 3 had an epic story, a HUGE environment, awesome RPG elements, and was just pure fun. It ruined my ONLINE social life, I was so obsessed with the singleplayer game. What was nice about Fallout 3 was the FPS-RPG gameplay that blended seamlessly, it had a believable vision of a post-apocalyptic future (what with all the mewties and ghoulies and raiders), and the retro-futuristic vibe make the game come to life in a fittingly unfitting sort of ironic way. Satisfying and amazing from start to finished, Fallout 3 is one of the best games ever since it replaced CoD4 (until I returned to CoD4 after I needed some multiplayer goodness back in my life) and will definitely stick with me for a long, long, LONG forever.

    Those are my favorite games of this gen, and maybe of all time. As for the gen being devoid of awesome, it might not be as enthralling as the early days, but that’s probably because we were young, and so was de_Biz, so video games were even more original and impactful.

  16. For me the wow moments have been mostly from valve. I know i’m a valve fanboy, but they always manage to put a new experience on the table: tf2, portal, L4D. I remember the first time I played CS, I got pwned, but I had never experienced a game like that.

  17. As I see it the wow factor and the great classic games are dieing because of rushed production due the intense level of competition in the gaming industry with every one trying to out-do every one else. This then pushes up production schedules and decreases the quality of the game and the level of awesome overall.

  18. I personally feel that this gen has some amazing games that wow me still. Halo 3, true story was a little week, but forge and the fact bungie actually seems to care about there online community blows me away.
    Bioshock, Mass Effect and Oblivion also rate high on my wow factor.

    I guess there are 3 reason as to why this gen seems so lack-luster.
    1. The fact that this gen came after the first true 3D gen, everything back then was fresh and new, unlike today.
    2. Game developers just want a “good” game not an amazing one. They just want sales.
    3. Society in general has become harder to please and wow. We just expect too much from everything, our governments, our jobs, in gamers case our games.
    I think that this gen has some really amazing games, just that when compared to last gen it “seems” that these games are not nearly as high on the “wow” factor. I can almost guarantee that if you go back and play the games that you say were amazing last gen, it wont have that same wow that you thought it had.

  19. the last game that completely wow’d me was Portal. Never before had i played a game that challenged ( and entertained me) as much as portal did. and i do think that most games now are less wowing and more generic

  20. [quote comment=”5514″]Oh and just an after thought
    I completely agree with cossak69![/quote]

    lol Thanks masseyguy. The thing about Halo 3 is that I do love Forge, and I’m still forging maps on Sandbox and Foundry, but CoD4 and CoD:WaW (which I recently returned to so I could give it another chance) occupy my online versus spotlight because it’s much, well, better.

  21. Another thought is that game devs today dont want to take risks and try to make a good game, they just stick to what they have been doing. I think thats why the “wow” factor seems so low now.
    BUT Halo 3 forge mode is amazing! I can do that all day, even though my Halo 3 disk is broken…

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