To some degree graphics reached "good enough" for me with Crysis like 5 years ago. Recently though it's being hammered into my skull. I've played three games recently, Far Cry 3, Max Payne 3 and Hitman: Absolution, which look AMAZING. Like, as lifelike as I think games ever need to look. Any more lifelike might actually look worse in a weird way.
Since budgets keep climbing and sales stay the same, it makes sense to stop at some point. Games like Minecraft, WoW and every indie game ever show that people care more about art design and gameplay than they do pure tech. I am definitely at a place now where I don't need graphics to look any better.
How about you? Eager for new consoles, hoping graphics take another leap? Looking to SLI two amazing new video cards this Fall so you can pump out the latest amazingness? Or are you good to go, like me, and hoping for a very small upgrade?
I would agree with you that graphics are so nice now in certain games it's easy to be happy with them and not yearning for major upgrades. The funny thing is though, honest to God I felt this way when Quake III Arena came out and then games using its engine like Medal of Honor Allied Assault arrived. I thought then that those games looked so good a certain bar had been reached. That meaning I could always play games from that era and forward and never feel the graphics looked bad to me.
Since discovering GOG and seeing so many old classics again, even those graphics are pleasing in their own nostalgic way in many cases. I've been a big fan of good use of color and artistic variety in game environments. To me playing Baldur's Gate with the BG2 engine was just great. I thought it looked wonderful. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. For a special oldie like Ultima 1, even little pixel characters, monsters and wireframe dungeons have their charm.
I guess I am wandering off here about my views on graphics in games but yeah, you are so right too in that it is all about the game itself. It is all about the gameplay, the story, the music, the voice acting, everything. The sum of the parts is what counts and the graphics are just one aspect of that.
Just the same, it is wonderful that tech has come so far. Having grown up without home computers existing I really marvel at what is possible today. The likes of a game like Skyrim just completely blows me away.