Why Next-Generation Games Consoles Can Wait [Opinion]

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video game consolesThe current generation of video game consoles – the Wii, the PS3, and the Xbox 360 – have all been with us for some time. This seventh-generation began in 2005 with the release of the Xbox 360. The Microsoft console was joined by Nintendo’s innovative new motion-control-based Wii and Sony’s more-of-the-same PS3 a year later in 2006.

By industry standards this is a long-lasting generation. Gamers are now champing at the bit to get their hands on shiny new video game console. With the Wii U already on the way, and successors to the PS3 and Xbox 360 definitely in development, they will get their wish very soon. However, I am in no rush to see the next-gen emerge from whatever rock it’s lying dormant under. Here are five reasons why I’d like to hang on to the current-gen just a little longer.

Launch Games Always Disappoint

video game consoles

The games available to purchase at a new console’s launch are almost universally bad. There may be the odd good title in there – Perfect Dark Zero on Xbox 360, Resistance: Fall of Man on PS3, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Wii – but even these exceptions lose their sheen a few years into the console’s life.

The reasons for this are simple: developers rush to get a game, any game, ready for launch; they invariably struggle to properly get to grips with the new hardware. This not only means they don’t take advantage of the new hardware capabilities open to them, they also make mistakes. So, launch games are, at best average, at worst glitchy and generally grotty.

Couple this with the fact that games released at the end of a console generation tend to be some of the best yet seen (for the exact opposite reasons as those outlined above) and the case for holding back begins to take shape.

Hardware Failures

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The start of a new generation of video game consoles brings with it the probability of new hardware failures. It has happened before and I’m sure it will happen again.

The Xbox 360 is of course the main culprit here, at least in the current generation. Early versions of the Microsoft console had a high failure rate, with the user’s first indication there was a problem being the infamous Red Ring of Death. The reason for the RRoD hasn’t ever officially been revealed but it’s believed to have been as a result of cost-cutting by Microsoft; designing the graphics chip in-house.

I don’t know about you but I’m not looking forward to a similar thing happening next time around, whether the company at fault is Microsoft once again, or Sony or Nintendo instead.

Paying For New Hardware

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Even if the new hardware is perfect and failure-free, it still costs money to buy in the first place. Money that many of us haven’t got at the moment thanks to the continuing financial crisis. New hardware costs money, and companies tend to charge a small fortune at launch, knowing the hardcore, early-adopters will not be able to resist jumping on board.

I would rather be spending that cash on new games than a new machine to play said games on. The PS3 cost $599 in the U.S. at launch. With the games retailing at $59.99 that was 10 titles worth of my hard-earned cash spent on upgrading from the PS2. The same will be true for the PS4. The longer I can get away without having to shell out such a sum of money just for the opportunity to play new games the better.

Anti-Used Games Measures

game consoles

There are rumors that both Microsoft and Sony are planning on building measures aimed at killing, or at least mortally wounding, the used games market into their next video game consoles. They may ‘allow’ Gamestop and the like to remain in business but they want developers and publishers to get paid for every sale, whether it be new or used.

Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox 720 (codename Durango) haven’t been revealed, but Sony’s plans for the PS4 (codename Orbis) have. The new console would require all gamers to be online and have a PSN account which a new game would sync with. Buy it used and you’d have to also buy a code to unlock all but the most-basic of content. Mere rumors at this stage perhaps, but it would be a believable endgame from what has already happened.

Many in the industry hate the fact there is a such a thing as a market for used games. In an ideal world they would like you to buy a title brand new and then keep it forever. Or just bin it when you’re done with it. Their argument being that while the physical media may be your property, the actual content on the disc is merely licensed to you.

There have been attempts during this generation to limit the appeal of buying used – offering extras to those who buy new, only allowing the original purchaser to play the online multiplayer portion of the game – but Microsoft and Sony (possibly in some kind of mutual agreement) could be about to up this effort a notch by using the hardware against those who buy used. A development I’d rather not see happen for as long as possible.

Incremental Upgrades

video game consoles

There is one indisputable reason why this generation has already lasted longer than any other: the pace of change in this particular sector of technology has slowed down. The jump between some generations has made a vast difference: from 2D to 3D, from cartridge to disc, from offline to online. No longer.

It could be argued that motion control was a big innovation, but that has already arrived. Nintendo put it front-and-center with the Wii and the gamble paid off. Microsoft and Sony then copied them. Kinect will be an integral part of the next Xbox, Move will possibly an integral part of the next Playstation. But that change has already occurred. What else can we expect?

The obvious call is for better visuals. But hasn’t the success of the Wii shown that visuals aren’t everything? Gameplay and storyline, which some developers seem to have forgotten how to institute, are more basic tenets of great games. I would rather see these being improved than the eye candy being ratcheted up a notch.

Conclusions

This opinion piece may make me come across as a backwards-looking fool settling for what I have rather than imagining a glorious future. And that may well be the case. But I have been bitten before, and bitten hard, by the bug which makes us all look to the next big thing.

In the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii we have three video game consoles which appeal to different demographics. And there are still great games being released on all of these machines. I’m settled, I’m happy, I’m a seventh-generation console kid (aged 34). I’m happy for that to remain the case for the foreseeable future.

As always we welcome your comments on the article above. Do you agree or disagree with my views? Feel free to let me know either way. Opinion is free, discussion is good, debate is healthy.

Image Credits: DieselDemon, DavidHT, HowardLake, Seth Werkheiser, Radly J Phoenix

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Comments (47)
  • 9

    I’m less bothered with the idea of anti-used game measures (I have a tendency to wait for the prices to halve and then buy new) and more bothered by the fact that it may require me to be signed in all the time.
    I know, we live in an age of high speed broadband and low-rate internet, but some of us are lagging in the dust. My internet isn’t fast and it isn’t reliable. Even downloading system updates is a struggle.
    I already avoid gaming online for that reason, and it’s pretty much a deal breaker in terms of my potential investment in a new system.

    I’m sure there’s a number of people out there who have no internet, or none suitable for gaming, and they’ll be left in the lurch. I guess they don’t number highly enough to put a dent in sales and profits though, so the big guys won’t care.

  • dalton

    this is crap ive been playing games since i could press a button and im in the gen number of the ps2 and ps1 n64 i miss those games alot i got the new gen system cause of more games i never seen but alot of them suck or the type i like are to few but i swear by all thats console i will save the future of gaming some how even if i have to become the enemy of ever maker in the bis

  • Yo

    Most of the evidence seemed to be more towards ps3/360 and didn’t really argue anything against the wii. It’s kind of ridiculous to include the wii in this argument anyways since their big launch games didn’t disappoint (although few in number), they don’t suffer from hardware problems, their new gen, as far as I know, won’t have anti-resell drm, and their new hardware/equipment nearly always came pre-packaged with other games for barely any extra money.

    • Dave Parrack

      It was primarily aimed at the PS3 and Xbox successor, yes. The Wii U is out there on its own. It’s next-gen only in terms of chronology.

  • jack

    It does seem pointless bringing out a new console when they haven’t even utilised the ps3 entirely yet. They have so much more they could do with the console without bringing out a new product, and as you said, launch games always disappoint. Truer words have never been spoken. I got the ps3 in 2007 for Christmas and even then it didn’t have a great selection of games going for it but now I find that it has (right now I’m playing dark souls with 130 hours done so far).

    Backward compatibility really should be implemented into the ps4. As you said, the launch games are quite boring and not up to par for what should be considered good gaming. Sony could probably make more money by implementing backward compatibility for the main reason of launch games being terrible and the fact that it would be at least a year before we see better games launched. It could boost sales of the console and games while waiting for newer ps4 only games to be released.

    As for the anti-used games measures, this is probably what turns me off the most about ps4 so far. Would this mean that you couldn’t lend the game to a friend to try out? Would it mean that more world resources are used for creating discs? Does it mean I would have actually have to be on-line? I use a mobile dongle for internet capability, and this really doesn’t help Sony sell me the console, as I probably wouldn’t be able to sync my PSN account to the game unless they allowed installation of a mobile broadband usb stick into the OS.

    As for the probable price of the ps4 upon release, it would be much better to spend that on ps3 games or upgrading a pc. I have a feeling it might be so expensive that you could build a mid range pc instead and have a larger selection of games available, not to mention a pc has more uses than a console.

    I doubt I will be getting a next gen console upon release or even for a few years, depending on what it has to offer but until it’s released, or at least the actual offerings that it brings are published, then my mind will be set on sticking with the ps3, ps2 and xbox.360.

    • Dave Parrack

      Ooh, Dark Souls is too hardcore for me. But great game for those with patience and skill :)

      I can’t see Sony bringing BC back now, which is a crying shame.

      No one is quite sure what form the anti-used measures are going to take, or even if they’ll be present in the next-gen consoles. But requiring you to be online at all times is the most obvious solution. I suspect they’ll be pushing digital distribution as well, taking discs out of the equation completely.

      You nailed it. I’m just going to enjoy the consoles I have for a few more years to come :)

  • Jesse D.

    Since this generation of gaming has launched, back in 2006, I’ve pretty much stopped caring about video games. I was perfectly fine with xbox, gc, and ps2…their realistic 3D was good enough for me. But hold on, now the realistic 3D looks better and it will only cost you a whooping $600 for the new ps3 or the xbox which overheated and then later got the RED ring of death…Meanwhile, my SNES is still upstairs in working order. Hmm…is that some crap or what? But my favorite gen of gaming was the 5th with N64, ps1, dreamcast. When games became 3D, had cd quality music, and tons of game types were first developed. Most of which would later be copied by the 6th generation to make all the thousands and thousands of GTA clones that appeared that generation. Also, I’m supposed to pay you a fee because I was smart enough to buy a game used and not waste my hard earned money on a game that will drop quicker than a new car off the dealer’s lot? Screw that. Why don’t I pay the clothing designers, VHS, CD, DVD makers, a fee when I buy something 2nd hand? Oh, I know…because that’s totally stupid. That’s why.

    Also, it seems this whole online thing…while being good for some games, has turned a lot of people lame and anti-social. My best friend is one of these people. He used to be a pretty cool dude. But now his one passion is life is to play video games, and that’s pretty much all we can do together now. Yeah, I like them, too. But being productive is way cooler. Also, when I was younger, it was school, sports, dinner, homework, shower, play some games or watch TV, and then bed. I was never that dumb to get ‘hooked’ on gaming and being a lazy ass.

    AS A SIDE NOTE: I’VE NOTICED GAMES LIKE “AMY”, THAT COULD BE DEVELOPED INTO FULL GREAT GAMES, BECOME PSN DOWNLOAD GAMES THAT ARE SHORT AND CHEAP…MEANWHILE, IT SEEMS “THEY” CAN’T WAIT TO THROW A CRAPPY HACK N SLASH OR SHOOTER GAME AT US.

    Yeah, there are still good games coming out and all that jazz, but I’m 25 now and focusing on other more important things than gaming. The current gen has seen game companies pull a lot of crap, and I’m hopping off this vessel before it heads the way of the Titanic. Thanks for all those recycled shooter games and being greedy game publishers. I’m off to enjoy my “NEW’ (to me) Dreamcast that I bought today and all those games I got dirt cheap. Have fun running the game market head on into a tree. I’m evacuating to go play good games like the ones I grew up on, and still enjoy. When you’re ready to focus on quality, game play, and storyline above all else (mainly graphics) let me know. Until then…See ya!

    • Dave Parrack

      I doubt this current generation will be many people’s favorite one. I agree on used games, unfortunately the developers, publishers and console manufacturers appear to have teamed up to kill the market.

      I wish I had the time to play games all day, every day, but I don’t. That’s probably a good thing!

      There are some great indie games out there. That’s where the creativity is coming from these days. Perhaps Kickstarter will help fund these types of games.

      Enjoy your new Dreamcast. One of my favorite consoles of all time. And thanks for commenting.

    • Jesse

      Thanks. Will do, and yeah, I think a lot of people will be sort of happy when this generation of gaming is over…as long as we move onto something that’s an improvement over what we have now. I’m still getting my library together. Any good games you can recommend that might have been hidden gems?

    • Dave Parrack

      Perhaps not hidden gems but I would recommend Chu Chu Rocket, Skies of Arcadia, Metropolis Street Racer, Crazy Taxi, Power Stone 1 and 2, Jet Grind Radio, Rez, and of course Shenmue 1 and 2.

      I’m tempted to set mine up again and play some of these games now.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.