The lights are on
Power Member - Level 7
Note: This is my first blog on GI. I actually posted it a month or two ago, but accidentally deleted it when I was editing it. I managed to save most of it, so let just call it my "special edition". Thanks for reading.
In the last few months, I've read many articles about the next generation of consoles. They have many directions, such as rumors, or wish lists of features, or who will be the first out of the gate. One thing I don't find enough of is the questioning of the next gen's validity.
Game consoles have, in the past, had an average life of about 5-6 years. The PS2 was able to outlast that age by almost doubling the amount of years it held the spotlight. Most gamers will, without question, jump on the next console to keep up with the latest games, because that is what we live for; we want to play games. Unfortunately, the prices of these systems, and their accompanying games, have risen with each launch. Inflation aside, it is becoming more and more expensive to keep being a gamer, in any sense. But what have we purchased with our money and devotion each time?
The Super NES gave us better graphics and larger games. It even managed to bring new life into older classic games/franchises, such as Zelda and Metroid. The Genesis gave us more mature games, and probably helped spawn fanboys. The N64 propelled us into a 3D world of games. For the first time, we could really immerse ourselves in the worlds of each of our beloved games. It also gave us Goldeneye, which started our unstoppable love for FPS games. It was great, even though short-lived. The PS1 brought us disk-based games, which allowed for amazingly large games, with endless hours of gameplay. Its follow-up, the PS2, gave graphics a booster shot, that most of us didn't think would happen for a while. It even managed to create its fair share of franchises and games that will sit in my Top Ten forever. The Xbox changed online gaming forever. Until then, you needed a computer to play with your friends online, and I wasn't willing to hand over the money for it. With the 360 and PS3, we have games for download at our disposal. Patches can easily be obtained for othewise broken or glitched games. And games don't have to end, now that we have add-on packs available. This doesn't even include all of the different media sources that are now available on both platforms. The point is that there has always been a need for a generation passing, which has benefited the gamers.
What is the purpose of a new generation, at this point? Honestly, what could any company possibly add to a console that we absolutely need? I hear a lot about graphics being enhanced, but what would be the point? We already have amazing graphics, and not even movies, with their incredibly bottomless wallets, can make a computer generated person look unbelievably real. It just isn't going to happen. Mass Effect, Uncharted, and many others have given us graphics that we couldn't have imagined possible when we first picked up our NES controllers. And even if they do somehow manage to make me wet my pants when I see a game, why would that be reason enough for a new console?
The introduction of online integration in our consoles gives companies the ability to upgrade our consoles when needed. Why not utilize this to improve upon our experiences? The 360 has upgraded its interface (for better or worse) several times during its lifetime. Each time, it has been a major overhaul, and it has allowed for more features. The PS3, being a way more powerful beast, could easily do this same thing, if needed, so why are they anxious to drop a new console on us?
Money and control seem to be the only reason I can think for this move. One thing that keeps popping up in discussions and speculations of future consoles is digital gaming. There have even been rumors of the lack of disk drives. If that is the case, then affordable gaming is a way of the past. Many of my friends own the games they own, because they bought them used. I understand that used games are the bane of game companies, but we don't live in a land where everyone is Scrooge McDuck. I own Mass Effect 3, because I was able to trade in games to get it. Sure it wasn't the best deal, but I was able to do it. Unless they have a "rent-a-game" service, then it would be completely terrible for everyone. And for the record, I think that they could employ a service like that on our current consoles. Games like Borderlands which are more than 2 years old now, still cost at least $20 as a digital game, but I can run to the store and pick it up for $10 or less. If they aren't pricing down their older games to a reasonable amount, then it wouldn't be worth it.
And what do we do when a company decides to make that console obsolete? Do we just lose our games in the switch? And that would actually apply to our current generation. I have purchased many games over PSN and XBLA, so what happens to those, if I were to purchase a new generation? Perhaps these issues would be addressed to help win over potential adopters of the next consoles. And I'm sure that there will be no lack of people snatching them up at midnight of their launch. I just hope that it's not a decision we all make in haste, that might limit our enjoyment of games in the future.