Where’s the Welcome Party for the Next Generation?

September 7, 2009 § 1 Comment

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to the next console generation.

I’ve just invested in a new high definition television, some decent headphones, and I’m now in the process of weighing up whether a 360 purchase is in order. In short, I’m spending enough money as it is.

These funds have a feeling of a good investment though. I’m not just buying entertainment that’s diminishing over time, I’m getting something that’s only going to get better with the addition of new firmware and system updates possible for the first time on our internet-enabled consoles.

But Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo could undo my satisfaction instantly by announcing the next generation. They’re not going to any time soon, the simple economics of the situation simply wouldn’t allow for that, but I’d bet good money that it’s certain to happen at some point in the future.

It’s not just consumers who’re not ready for the next generation. Developers have been making serious progress making games for the three current consoles for some time, which has the benefit of cheaper production costs, shorter development cycles, and above all, better games.

As a generation goes on the quality of games improves tenfold. A clear example is the GTA series, where just in terms of their physical map the games have tripled in size. Graphical fidelity is another indicator, just compare the two screenshots below from the original Timesplitters (a PS2 launch title, pictured left) and Timesplitters 3 (still on PS2, but released in 2005, right).

Ultimately the ignition key rests in the hands of the console makers themselves, but it’s hard to see how they’d actually benefit from a new generation. Aside from the fact that no one would buy it, anyone who did wouldn’t really make any of the manufacturers – aside from Nintendo – any money by virtue of a new console’s price being less than what it costs to make.

So maybe in the long run we’d get better looking games in a new generation, but this makes them more costly to develop, and this money needs to be gotten from somewhere. Games can either get shorter, or they can get more expensive, and as we’ve seen from the move into the current-gen, both can very easily happen.

I’m not trying to be overly negative about the future, if I am it’s only because of how happy I am with the present. Look at the games we have today. Don’t they look amazing? Are you honestly sitting there thinking about how you’d willingly pay for a new console to see these games look better?

The current generation completely fills my gaming needs. I have realistic graphics, internet capabilities, downloadable games, and achievements, and I’m happy with this amount. I can’t think of anything a new generation of consoles could offer me to make me happy to spend my money what with the amount of features they can add with software updates.

So what’s going to make you willingly shell out on a new console aside from every major developer on the planet leaving your current one in the dust?


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