I agree, the focus started shifting from game play to fluff when the CD ROM drive started becoming mainstream. They had all this space, and decided to take a que from Hollywood.
Deep Gameplay = niche. Thinking = work. Mass appeal = dumb.
Console games are the ultimate expression of that philosophy. With a few exceptions (Rock Band
Don't get me wrong, there have been some really awesome computer games since the mid 90's. But the focus of most games did shift from "innovative game play", to "refine whats been done, with better graphics."