Great Expectations

Oli Rushby asks if we expect enough from technology companies when it comes to innovating new products.

The end of summer always brings a multitude of new releases in gaming and gadgetry, and this year is no exception. Electronic Arts have released the latest installment of their famous football franchise, FIFA 18, and Apple is also in full flow, with both the iPhone 8 (released 22nd September 2017) and the iPhone X (to be released in November 2017) surging into the mobile phone market. However, one thing is becoming clearer every year; these products seem to become less and less varied with each new release.

In the case of Electronic Arts’ FIFA 18, playing the game doesn’t seem to give a different experience to the previous release, FIFA 17, in very much the same way that FIFA 17 seemed very similar to FIFA 16 and so on. While new ‘game modes’ such as The Journey are added in every few releases, the FIFA franchise certainly seems to have stalled when it comes to bringing new and exciting features to make the different releases stand apart from each other.

The only distinct difference between each release is the players featured and their respective ‘ratings’ – surely this could simply be added to a single release of the game as a yearly update, rather than forcing consumers to spend upwards of £50 for each new release?

In Apple’s case, the situation is slightly different. While each release of the iPhone will use upgraded hardware to improve the phone, the impact of the ‘upgrades’ that come with each new version of the iPhone on consumers is debatable. Granted, the iPhone X will have an improved screen, and improved storage, but does it warrant an extra £400 on the price tag when compared to the iPhone 7?

It’s fairly well established that iPhones are not known for their durability – surely bringing out a new phone that is going to last longer would be worthier of the increased price tag than a new phone with a larger screen.

While this investigation has only used examples from a couple of companies in the technology and gaming industry, it is not hard to find a lack of innovation in the products of other companies either – Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, aside from the varied theatres of war, seems to offer very little in the way of variety for those spending £40 or more on new releases every year.

This begs the question of why are we, as paying customers, so willing to spend hundreds of pounds on a new iPhone that will only last a couple of years, or more than £50 on a game that is essentially a revamped version of last year’s equivalent title? It is evident that we do not expect enough from the companies providing us with ‘new’ technology – perhaps it is time to demand more for the frankly excessive amount of money that we spend every autumn on technology, rather than idly standing by and accepting little to no innovation in the products we buy.