As the current generation of consoles break the half decade mark (the PS3 was released in 2006, the Xbox 360, 2005), hearsay regarding the announcement of their successors have begun to grow louder. At the Consumer Electronics Show held in Vegas this week, the talk was that come E3 in June, next-gen hardware would finally show their shiny, new faces. These rumors were immediately debunked, at least from Sony’s side. Microsoft has been quiet. And a new possible entrant could be joining the war: The Fiona
At the extreme end of things, there’s also Gaikai, a cloud gaming service, who has boldly proclaimed that “not all of the current console makers will have one more generation.” To the tune of a million gamers replying: “What the hell are you smoking? Yer crazy”
Yet there are signs that this will not be the year that we will see new consoles, except for Nintendo, who to be honest, is in a different league. The way the gaming landscape has changed, it’s no longer enough that consoles sell their way to consumers promising better graphics. It’s a different ball game, and even previous non-players such as Apple are paving the way towards reshaping gaming culture. That said, here are some of our thoughts why next gen hardware might never come at all in a form you expect.
Better graphics? Who needs 'em?
We're at a point where the promise of fancier visuals no longer elicit heart-stopping reactions. We've also begun to realize that no matter how powerful a console might seem at the start, more advanced PC hardware with more graphical horsepower will take over soon enough. It's a lost cause. Sure, new hardware could afford developers a larger playground to fool around with, but at this point, the general consensus is that we're still pretty content with what the current crop can offer. If a new hardware is going to come out, it has to bring with it a load of new tricks that would offer a distinct experience.
If this gaming-on-demand serivce succeeds, no longer will you need to buy new graphic cards or new consoles to play the newest games. At its simplest, cloud gaming is like you're connecting to and accessing some of the most powerful gaming computers in the world to play. All you need is a really fast Internet connection, which is more than a fair trade off with the hassles of having to keep yourself updated with the powerful hardware. Again, this just shows how important it is for console makers to create a system with attributes that cannot be replicated by such a service.
The New Gen, not the Next Gen
Nintendo has never been one to go with the flow. The N64's analog stick changed the way we control games, and the Wii's motion control system paved the way for, well, other motion control implements such as the PS Move and the Kinect. With the Wii U, the Big N is up to its old tricks again as it introduces a console with a controller that has a touchscreen built right in. We shot these guys a leery eye before with what at first seemed gimmicky contraptions, so it serves us well to give this one the benefit of the doubt. In any case, the Wii U, with such a controller, can rely on a selling point that can't be easily replicated by the cloud gaming service we mentioned above. Sony and Microsoft would do well to follow Nintendo's philosophy.
It's Simply Not Yet Time
Sony talked about a ten-year cycle when they released the PS3--a statement that few believed then. Now, we are on their side. The PS3 took a couple of years to gain traction, and to really create a gaming experience that was distinct from the last generation. In the years that we saw it bloom, along with the Xbox 360, we've seen a lot of great games, and the near future doesn't show that the flow will be coming to a halt soon. Though some may be itching for new hardware, it can't be denied that these two consoles still have a substantial amount of steam left in them. Suffice it to say, we're not yet at the point that we'd be willing to plop another 15 or 20,000 pesos for a new console.
Or yes, as you might have heard, the world might end this year, which renders all arguments invalid.