Hey, Remember When Power Was The #1 Concern For New Consoles?
"8-bit? Really? Isn't the Atari only 2? Wow." "What...16-bit? Double what we have now?! No way! Seriously?"
Yes, and pretty much all the way up until this generation: Power was the most-discussed feature of any new video game console. But as systems have become more and more like PCs and the digital age has expanded in a frightening attempt to strangle us in our sleep with a diabolical combination of apps and Facebook photos, power suddenly seems to be secondary.
The latest rash of PS4-related rumors - which analyst Michael Pachter has already denounced, saying Kotaku's source was "a monkey" - has involved a great many items for general gamer discussion. Now, that did include a look at the console's potential power but that hardly dominated the aforementioned discussion; no, most arguments involved the lack of backwards compatibility and the idea that the PS4 wouldn't play used games. And that's only the tip of the iceberg, of course; the console is bound to be awfully diverse, even more so than the PS3...which is, in and of itself, pretty darn close to a PC already.
Things have gotten complicated, haven't they? On the one hand, it's good that the next generation of console fanboy arguments won't necessarily be focused on power and graphics. After all, that's been getting old for a while. On the other hand, it's interesting to see how features have become a primary concern for most any electronic gadget, simply due to that gadget's versatility. Backwards compatibility? Hell, nobody in my class expected the Super Nintendo to play Nintendo cartridges. That'd be just...silly. And the $60 we paid then - which of course is what we pay now, although everyone wants to gloss over that fact - wasn't easy to deal with.
Granted, the power of the new consoles will come more into the spotlight when we start reading about the detailed specs, and when new games are shown. That's inevitable. But maybe for the first time in the industry's history, consumers won't put power or hardware potential or even the games themselves at the top of their priority lists. If these machines really are PCs for our living rooms, there will be a lot more to consider...the only thing that bothers me is that it tends to override the games themselves, the very reason we got into this hobby in the first place.
I'm dreading the day I hear- "Oh, I don't care what games are coming out for it, the machine can do this." You know, like it's the iPad 7 or something.
3/30/2012 10:41:38 AM Ben Dutka