Sunday Meditation: Will Console Generations Become Like This?
The first E3 of the new generation is upon us and I feel a little deflated.
Not that every E3 is a big wonderful fantasy camp where all our gaming wishes come true. Far from it, you only get a great one every now and then. You'd like to think that with these fancy new consoles we would see a lot of thrilling new pieces of software to keep us excited. I'm getting the feeling that won't be the case.
There's really no telling just yet but my leading indicators tell me we are in for another well-planned set of conferences that follow their itineraries and add little or nothing new for excitement by way of teasers and surprises. I hope I'm wrong, but this general impression has led me to think about the state of consoles. As I am frequently told for complaining about a lack of games, these are the normal states of things in a new generation. I know that full well but there are other considerations. The super HD updates of old titles, a lengthy cross platform period, a lack of anything that looks or feels truly next gen, and the ever present delays all mix with the lengthy period of the last generation to give me the impression that generational changeover as we know it could be changing.
I wondered what that might look like, all I had to do was look around me. With consoles now firmly planted in the realm of the specifically purposed PC there is no reason to believe that generational changeovers won't simply occur the way they do with most other hardware formats these days: basic spec upgrades with less fanfare and a few more capabilities. We do it with our phones, our computers, our tablets, our MP3 players and whatever else does digital things for you. We either line up to get our updated piece of hardware or wait until it costs less. In the mean time we just can't play with the newest software.
Console releases could strongly resemble this pattern eventually. There still isn't a big enough reason to go all digital so physical game discs probably aren't leaving any time soon, and that means consoles won't be absorbed into our TVs or whatever else is being predicted. The cost of the development will come down, people will subscribe to Platinum services that replace their hardware every time it becomes outdated, and the concept of large leaps in the gaming experience will give way to slower and more incremental steps than has been previously been the case.
This has been the pattern of many consumer electronics and gamer tradition may be the only thing stopping the gaming console from being the next piece of hardware to follow suit. Maybe I'm outdated but I like the traditions, and I like E3 in the year of a new generation to show off the big leaps rather than the incremental steps.
6/7/2014 David D. Nelson