There’s an idea in gaming that each generation gets bigger, better, and more impressive. Nowhere is this as obvious as with graphics, with visuals standing as the most illustrative aspect of what system hardware can do. One of the most significant issues with this is the idea of diminishing returns. Taking a look at some mainstream titles, as well as online casino games bingo slots, we want to investigate how this problem is likely to be a growing concern in digital entertainment.
What are Diminishing Returns?
Diminishing returns refers to how, over time, improving something to an appreciable degree requires disproportionally more effort. In gaming, this commonly occurs in terms of both hardware improvements, and the quantity of labour required to make the most of hardware upgrades.
For an example in gaming, take a look at the graphical jump that was made from the PlayStation 1 to the PlayStation 2. The generational leap on display with these systems was immediately obvious to anyone, even those without gaming knowledge. On the other hand, compare the best graphics of the PS3 to the PS4, or the PS4 to the PS5, and the appreciable changes begin to diminish.
“Four PS generations” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dushan and Miae
Why is this an Issue?
The difficulties from diminishing returns come in cost, and how avoidable these costs can be. For an illustration on the opposite side of the spectrum, consider the bingo slots games available on modern major online casinos. The selection of games here like Clover Rollover and Cleopatra Gold cover an enormous quantity of ideas and themes, with new games being released for websites continuously.
This selection is possible because of how the developers, that make games for these casinos, approach diminishing returns. Rather than lean into runaway costs, casino game developers build what their customers want while staying within reasonable means. In traditional video games, this sort of responsibility is being rapidly abandoned by AAA developers.
There is perhaps no great illustration of this predicament than with Rockstar North’s GTA series. Seeing multiple releases on the PS1 and PS2 generation, the drive of the company for what many would consider extraneous engines meant development slowed massively in the PS3 generation. In fact, the last original GTA game, GTA V, released seven years ago in 2013. Since then, all we’ve seen is remasters.
Addressing the Issue
Unfortunately, it’s not easily possible for fans to wield the level of influence that would be required to change the overindulgence of major AAA studios. Most developers will continue to fight against diminishing returns, making their games cost more and more and leading to longer and longer periods between releases.
Hope, in this instance, is mostly born from the other sides of digital entertainment industries. Online casinos are great examples of this, as they keep developing increasingly impressive games while never completely stepping over the line into unsustainability. Within the video gaming industry, it’s smaller indie titles which are continuously playing this part.
“RocketLeague 5” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by The Bearded Clock
Great examples of this can be found within the likes of Stardew Valley, Limbo, and Rocket League. Far out-performing many of their AAA contemporaries, games like these have shown that success is more about innovation than pushing an already crushed envelope. As for when major studious might lean more into this direction, only time will tell. At least, when the new generation of console prices are soon revealed, we’ll have some idea at what fighting diminishing returns might cost.