Day 115: The Next Next Generation

Well, E3 is going to be interesting.

Can’t really say that for most years. Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age, but there was a streak of shows at the end of last generation that really bummed me out, when the well on new ideas seemingly dried up and brown-and-grey shooter sequels dominated press conferences. Things obviously got more interesting when the new hardware announcements came around. Maybe “interesting” isn’t the right term. “Turned into a complete circus” is probably more appropriate. We watched Microsoft drop the ball, Sony pick it up and kind of taunt them with it and Nintendo… well they kept being Nintendo actually.

Point being, it’s no coincidence that the most exciting times tend to be around the launch of new consoles, but it is incredibly weird to be back there again so soon.

It’s not too surpising, honestly. Before the current batch were announced, people in the know were suspecting that consoles weren’t really long for this world. The industry was in a different place and we started to wonder if there was still an audience for a proprietary platform that used physical media. Several million units later, we got our answer. I suppose there’s something to be said for getting the new cool thing, but there really wasn’t a moment when I needed a PS4 or an XBox One. I’ve always been one to avoid launch hardware as a rule anyway, but even if I’d been flushed with cash, the software simply wasn’t there to justify the purchase. I’d argue that, in some cases, that’s still true. Sony, despite being in the lead, is having major issues with first party output and Microsoft still seems to be in a rebuilding phase. Gun to my head, if I had to choose a console, it would be a Wii U, but even then, it would be for three games. This generation, more than any other, has made being a broke PC gamer a valid alternative.

In retrospect, it’s a really good thing that I waited.

We kinda already know what the NX is going to be; not the final name or exact specs but history allows for a pretty educated guess. It will be a slightly more powerful console with a gimmick that most developers won’t do anything with. That said, it will be the only place to play Nintendo games and thus, be good enough for most people. Honestly, the most exciting thing to come out of this for me will be those hot Wii U price drops. Hopefully the Mario Maker servers stay up for a while.

Sony’s plan for the PS4K/PS4 NEO/PS4.5 have just recently leaked and… I’m torn. A lot of people are, rightfully so, getting 32X vibes from this. The most I can say is that they’re trying to go about this all the right way, stating that base PS4 users won’t be left out in the cold and that there won’t be any games that require the new hardware. Of course, all it would take is one developer with a cool idea to ruin that, but at the same time, I wonder how attractive the NEO would even be to most users at this point. If fidelity and framerate are huge concerns, you’re probably not a console gamer to be begin with and it’s not as if the increase is THAT large, looking more like a PS4.2 or 4.3 at most. Honestly, until software comes out to make a good use case for why you’d need one, I don’t see most people making the switch. If Sony flat out replaces the old SKU, they probably won’t need anyone to.

As for Microsoft… I have no idea what in the blue hell Microsoft is doing, and I suspect they probably feel the same, just looking for a way to plug the holes in this great and powerful dam they spent a decade building. The integration with Windows users could potentially be really cool, but it could also become a logistical nightmare. Any games I’d want to play on the Xbone are now up on the Windows 10 store. I still haven’t upgraded to 10, mostly because I hate change in all forms, but eventually a consolidation between the platforms could be the right answer, leading us to that mythical “one console future” that we’ve all speculated on for years now.

Something has to give. I, for one, can’t imagine the next generation with yet another Playstation and another XBox that’s outstripped by PC tech before it’s even launched, depending on the software support of a very volatile and shrinking publishing industry. Games are most certainly not going anywhere but how we’re offered them is surely going to keep evolving. It’s exciting and kind of scary (again, change being terrifying), but also needed to happen. As long as we waited for the new generation to finally arrive, it came at a time when we still had a lot of questions in the air, ones that we’re just now getting around to answering.

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