Wasted Technology: Why The 10-Year Console Is A Good Thing - mbellacio Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Wasted Technology: Why The 10-Year Console Is A Good Thing

 

It's already begun. All of the buzz and chatter for the new PS4 and the next Xbox has begun to build, and everyone wants to know what we can expect with the new hardware. Hopes are high for many. Others, not so much. One of the driving forces for such an early introduction to new consoles has been the argument that the 10-year lifecycle for consoles was too long, and unrealistic. Even now, I've seen more than a few posts on GIO that have actually referred to current gen software as looking "bad". I usually get a good chuckle from that.

If there is one thing I am certain of about the coming hardware from Sony and Microsoft, it is this: The first year and a half will be filled with games that are just a tad bit prettier than current-gen, but overall, the difference will be negligible. For those gamers amongst us who have seen more than two console generations pass, we all know this to be true. Except for one or two stand-out hits, the first year of most new consoles only shows us a hint of what the new hardware can do. But, by contrast, I also tend to think that existing hardware is often "pushed out to pasture" before it's time.

I've said this before, so pardon me if it sounds redundant, but I look at what has been achieved with The Last Of Us, and I am frankly dumbfounded. And then I consider other titles such as Watchdogs, Beyond: Two Souls, the new Metal Gear Solid, and the Phantom Pain trailer we were treated to recently. These titles have me so jazzed, do I really care about next gen? Now factor in Halo 4 for the Xbox 360, Assassin's Creed 3, Call Of Duty 3, Far Cry 3 and Crysis 3. The bar has been set so unbelievably high, where do we possibly go from here?

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I don't want to see new consoles, or that I am not in any way intrigued by what they might offer. But I tend to be a mighty frugal person, and I can't help but wonder how much more "juice" can be squeezed out of current technology. What frustrates me is that most of the time, I think we are never really allowed to find out. Many times, we have heard it said that certain things cannot be achieved with "current technology". And just as many times, that has been proven false.

One of the crown jewels of the SNES era. Could it have gotten any better?

 

Is this an Xbox 360 game? No, it's Black for the PS2.

 

I tend to think back to the final days of previous consoles. Many were the times I could recall someone saying, " Man, I can't even play my Dreamcast anymore. The graphics are so old." Or, "Why do you still have a Super Nintendo?" But inevitably, the last two years of any console are always the best because developers have had several years to learn and master the intricacies of the hardware. And so it's a bit ironic that just when they are able to make the games look and perform their best, is when they also give up on making them and move on to the next thing.

Here's why I think the 10-year lifecycle is wise. Again, the first year offerings from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony are not going to be mind-blowing. They just aren't. But give it two, maybe three years? Yes, then we'll began to see the possibilities. But I also tend to think that learning to be efficient with current-gen technology is excellent training for being efficient with next-gen technology. And that's not just limited to consoles.

What about portables? Why can't we have portables and tablets that play games 15 to 20 hours on a single charge? How about making greater use of wireless and bluetooth connections in order to eliminate cables altogether? How about a future where all your device ever needs to plug in to is a power outlet, nothing else?

Some of the most exciting things happening in the worlds of science and technology do not involve cutting edge electronics, but do involve ingenious and new ways of thinking. The Mars Rover that is currently rolling all over the "Red Planet" and sending back data is incredibly "dumb" as far as machines go. It has been reported that an iPhone has more than 10 times the processing power of the current Rover. Imagine what would be possible with that iPhone?

I tend to think we don't allow ourselves enough time to fully explore some of the good things that have come from science and technology within the past 10 years. Consoles are no different. I hope the big three stick to longer console life-cycles and focus on ingenuity. Who knows what might be possible?

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