With the Wii U information out there there has been a lot of buzz about the next generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles. Leaving my bad pun behind, since that announcement I have been jonesing to talk about the next generation of console gaming. I think a lot of what we see now is a precursor to that next generation. Since I will be doing nothing more than speculating on what Sony and Microsoft has in store for us, I will be answering three questions that I find key to the next generation of consoles:
- When will the next generation Sony and Microsoft consoles launch?
- What will the next generation Sony and Microsoft consoles look like?
- Will the Wii U be able to compete in the next generation?
Throughout our podcast there has always been a lot of speculation of how long the current generation of consoles will last and it has been that the current generation will last longer than previous generations because of the internet. Before to upgrade firmware and new features for a console a new piece of hardware would have to come out for it, but now updates can be pushed out online allowing for a console built with 5 year old technology to stay competitive. However, I doubt that will happen. If you take a look at the history of console generations and create a mean average for those seven generations, then it would come to 5.8 years. While the internet can allow for current gen technology to expand itself, the hardware itself just simply can’t stand up. There is a war between PC and Console gamers, and the one thing PC undisputedly has over consoles is the hardware. As technology gets better, console hardware stays the same until a new generation comes out. That is the realistic approach to the matter and I believe that the next generation starts with the Wii U and that means word about the new Sony and MS consoles will be arriving as soon as next spring.
The next question is what kind of technology will we see in them? Leaving behind the complicated technical terms, I do expect that both companies will push out hardware that will make the Wii U look like this generation’s Wii. The next MS console will most definitely have a Bluray drive and it is my dream that it will also be a slot loading disc drive so I can stop scratching the shit out of my games. The biggest difference is that I believe that MS will push for motion technology as a primary source, ie, it will come with a Kinect. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next MS console is named Xbox Kinect. Sony will probably not push for the PS Move as much. As a marketing move I would hope that both Sony and MS would allow for their current motion tech to be used on their next brand of consoles. That allows for better brand stability. If there is one big change for the PlayStation 4, it will be that the CPU will be similar to that of the Xbox. The PS3 suffers quite a bit when it comes to multi-platform games because typically games are developed for the Xbox 360 because it is easier to program games for the Xbox 360’s CPU. Many games developed on the Xbox 360 have notoriously inferior ports for the PS3. It would be wise for Sony to conform even if it is not in their nature to do so.
As for the OS, I do believe that a lot of their current features and upcoming features are all just one big experiment for their next console. I have the strong feeling that MS will push the Xbox market into more of a family entertainment center and have their next console push a lot of media features, from the internet to videos to gaming, it will feature it all. We have seen things like Apple, Google, and internet ready TV’s pop-up all over the place, but instead of MS releasing its own brand it has instead pushed for the Xbox to feature all of those in one place. The next console will probably market those features much more heavily. Sony on the other hand will stick to their games and will probably market toward having compatibility with all of their other Sony products. The PSVita is coming out soon and I would be shocked if the PS4 didn’t feature a lot of PSVita options. This could be a Wii U killer if Sony handles itself correctly. I doubt the XrossMediaBar will change that much as it has become the iconic PS brand OS. I do hope that they take a page from the MS handbook and feature more social friendly features, which is the one criticism that even to this day Sony has yet to deal with effectively. I also expect a much heavier push toward having users purchase PlayStation Plus. I do hope that both consoles will have backward compatibility. As big as their customer base is for each console at the moment, it would seem foolish for them to alienate their current market. I disprove of Sony’s wading into the water approach for the PS3. It is better to just jump in than to push for two separate generations of consoles.
The last thing I will speculate on is whether or not the Wii U will have much value in the next generation. I believe that the Wii U will have nowhere near the success of the Wii. What made the Wii novel was the motion controls, price, and casual gaming philosophy. The Wii U lacks that ingenuity, plus both Sony and MS have taken that to heart in their current generation, which will also be seen in their next generation. Another reason is that casual gaming has moved from the Wii to smartphones. If Nintendo really wanted to be apart of the next generation they should’ve created a console that could compete against Sony’s and MS’ next consoles, instead of shooting for a system that only rivals the PS3 and Xbox 360.
With that all said, I am very excited about what Sony and MS have planed for their next consoles. Hopefully the RROD is a thing of the past and MS has learned from it. I also hope that Sony gets off of its high horse and realize that it no longer has the brand it use to have and make better decisions about the PS4. I didn’t really talk about 3D, but that is because it is the unfortunate inevitability that both console will dive into, whether you like it or not.