Check out the rather startling difference between the Atari 2600 title Jet Goblins Attack from 1980 and The Legend of Zelda just seven years later:
The yellow block in the first screen is Batman.
Now compare Goldeneye (1997) to Red Faction 2 (2004). Same seven-year span:
We’re on a technological plateau. The next real leap, the next real difference in how we play games via sensory suits or neural inputs or whatever, is still too far away and too expensive. We once thought it would be VR headsets, but that technology turned out to be a headache-inducing fad, people’s desire for tech novelty outweighed by their fear of being caught in an enormous electrical dorkhat.
Compare Madden NFL 2001 to Madden 2004. You have to squint to tell the difference. Do you think innovations for Madden 2007 will be startling by comparison? I’ll never forget the IGN Madden 2002 screenshot with a caption pointing out that it would be the first Madden to depict players’ arm hair.
Gaming simply can’t survive that way. There’s a reason why you can still see a motion picture a century after they hit the scene, but Vaudeville shows are extinct. There’s a reason why people still go to operas while live gladiator contests and public witch burnings are both rare and poorly-attended. In the entertainment world there are wives and then there are mistresses, long-term relationships and drunken one-night stands.
Our culture is married to the cinema. Gaming is a series of flings with continually younger, prettier partners. —David Wong
—Life after the Video Game Crash (PointlessWasteOfTime.com)
I combined the four screenshots into a single image, to make it easier to reproduce here.
While it’s true that there’s little difference between the two later screenshots, advances in graphics also involves advances in 3D space rendering, so that what was just a static bitmap in 1997 might be a fully rendered object in 2004, which opens up more gameplay possibilities.
But better graphics don’t necessarily make better games, as the author notes: ” I’ll never forget the IGN Madden 2002 screenshot with a caption pointing out that it would be the first Madden to depict players’ arm hair.”