Best Gaming Season Ever?

It can be said that we’ve had a great half decade of gaming. Since the current generation consoles launched (then known as the next gen systems), we’ve had the privilege of a trio of Gears of War games, three Modern Warfares, two new Legend of Zeldas (one of which came out today), among three Uncharteds, and five new Halos, not to mention three all new controller mechanics with PlayStation Move, Xbox 360 Kinect, and Wii MotionPlus.

What might be interesting to note, however, in the last month or so, we’ve had such massive releases that I think we can officially call this fall the best holiday lineup we’ve ever seen. And 2011 might just be the best gaming year of all time. Here’s the quick list of reasons why:

To mark Xbox’s tenth anniversary (infographic below), Microsoft re-released Halo: Combat Evolved in an Anniversary Edition. You’ve no doubt heard about it, and a review will be up shortly. At the midnight launch for the game however, there were a couple of other games that you may just have heard of. Games like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Need for Speed: The Run, and Saints Row: The Third. Also, some not quite so massive titles, but still big names like Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Harry Potter Years 5-7.

That was one day.

In the month or so preceding it, we had huge games like Uncharted 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Super Mario 3D Land, and Battlefield 3. A lot of sequels, sure, but just look at the calibre of these titles. And look at your calendar. And now realize there’s no way in hell you’ll even make a dent in this list before the end of the year.

It’s worth noting that we’ve had an incredible five years. And with this being the best yet, I’m not sure how next year will top it. But then I think towards E3 (yes, Eggplante will be there for the fourth time in a row!) and realize we’ll be seeing games like Grand Theft Auto V, the next Call of Duty instalment, likely another Splinter Cell, not to mention tons of other games like, well, Halo 4. And of course, we’ve also got things like the Wii U coming, and a rumour circulating that Microsoft just may announce it’s next console, in addition to the PlayStation Vita. I for one think that it would be interesting but I’m not sure it would do so well right out of the gate, since they’ve got such a great ecosystem going with Xbox Live and their platform right now.

So that’s the state of the gaming industry, and but what is each company doing right in their own space?

Microsoft has this platform thing down, which is much more than I can say for Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft has excelled at getting content for their Xbox 360 to really turn it into a living room platform. Netflix is available on all three platforms, but when you couple it with the other On-Demand content from hundreds of content providers from round the globe, Microsoft really has the platform thing down. And they’re focus is much better because they don’t have platform fragmentation with home consoles and portables. They’ve got their one platform and they’re focused on it. I can’t imagine what Nintendo is going to do when the Wii U comes out – they’ll have out five different platforms: Wii, Wii U, DS, DSi, and 3DS. Whew.

Speaking of Nintendo, they have a ton of excitement coming out of their offices just based on the fact that they’ve got so many fantastic ideas and titles launching so soon. Within the next year, we’ll have a next generation console in the Wii U, a bunch of classic games reinvented (say, another portable Zelda game?) and of course some Mario on Wii U, a Super Smash Bros. game, and maybe some bigger surprises.

I’m really not sure how to feel about Sony at this point. They don’t have much going on aside from a single exclusive (Uncharted) series, and some interesting hardware that no one is going to buy – their 24″ 3D PlayStation-branded TV set. It’s a great concept, but any traditional gamer is going to already have a great setup or is going to spend a hundred bucks more, skip the 3D, and get a 40″ set. The Vita isn’t really impressing too much. It’s got so much going on that it’s going to be another loss for Sony on a per-unit sold basis, and based on downloadable content as well as physical game content, they need to take a page out of Apple’s handbook and focus. The 5″ OLED touch screen is great, and dual analog sticks is fantastic. But a rear touchpad that no one is ever going to use as more than a tech demo seems like a massive waste. Also, going to a new proprietary physical media format… please Sony, take a hint: Memory Stick and UMD failed for very simple reasons. They sucked and no one wanted to use them. Then you went download-only with your PSPgo, and now you’ve gone to both physical media and downloadable content? I just don’t see it.

With all that said, everyone’s got their strengths – the PlayStation 3 is still the best Blu-Ray player on the planet, and being one of the cheapest ones still, you essentially get a free gaming system with your home theatre player. Microsoft is leading with a great online and content platform, and while that’s Nintendo’s biggest weakness, they’ve got a ton of anticipation with their new console coming out in the next year.

Take a look at the Xbox Tenth Anniversary Infographic below, and sound off in the comments what you think each company’s strengths and weaknesses are. Getting stoked for E3 2012? E3plante’s almost back!