Why we need more powerful consoles – or do we?

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I consider gamers quite lucky. We have tons of devices to play with, something for every taste and need. I jumped out of my #PcMasterRace life after getting bored with the constant component upgrading I felt I had to do in order to keep up, and have been a console girl ever since. I don’t need maximum performance to ensure the best possible experience for me– I find the graphics in modern console games amazingly pretty already as they are. I know I might not get the best of the best developers may have to offer, but that is the compromise I’m willing to do.

Few years ago we got our highly anticipated 8th generation of gaming consoles. It was a game-changer as we had been using their predecessors for quite some time and developers pretty much squeezed every bit of performance out of them. I mean, we had stunning visuals in last gen games like The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption and Call of Duty: Ghosts already. It was a great way to end the era of PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii. To me those seven years felt like an eternity.

Still, technology needs to advance and soon a certain level of visual quality became a standard of a modern video game. We even have some of them running 60 frames per second, although it’s not always too steady and performance issues are bugging developers too often. Obviously PC gamers are already used to these treats, and they will always be able to get the most out of games performance-wise, but consoles tend to progress more slowly. It’s not like you can sell a new, more powerful device to consumers once in a year or two – that’s what you do with upgraded hard drive capabilities and slimmer design. Things that won’t actually divide your audience.

But isn’t that what – at least according to rumors, speculations and few leaks here and there – Sony and Microsoft are doing right now, you might ask. And I would say yes, it’s exactly that. According to these news, both are developing more powerful versions of their existing eight generation consoles. Nintendo though isn’t settling for an upgrade. Instead they are launching a whole new console in 2017 which we know nothing about. At least Sony has already shown real interest in virtual reality and 4K resolution, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft do the same thing even though we only have vague rumors at the moment.

When you think about how fast the technology develops these days, it all makes perfect sense. Comparing a 300-400$ gaming console to a pricey high-end PC is both misleading and wrong – this is the age of mobile devices powerful enough to run VR content, why should we settle for less in console gaming?

Obviously there are risks. At least according to the Sony leak, game developers would have to support both PlayStation 4 and Neo, which is pretty much mandatory for this kind of a move. We don’t know how much it’s gonna cost in extra man hours for example, but I’m sure it’s not going be a simple walk in the park to develop games for both platforms. Then there is the possibility of alienating gamers, as better performance capabilities might give some advantage in online multiplayer games. It’s quite hard to tell yet how this will play out, especially since nothing has been confirmed yet.

Consumer-wise it’s hard to sell the idea of upgrading your console more often than they’re used to –  I can already read comments online stating that it’s unfair to do an upgrade version after such a short time. All I’m asking is what can we expect from a product that costs only few hundreds? The average price for a smartphone is about the same, and by the way we are upgrading those things rather manically in every two or three years. Now that’s something we are used to do.

Technology progresses so fast it makes my head spin. I know I’m considered as an early adopter, but I also feel for the regular consumer. A gaming console simply isn’t a product most of the people want to upgrade between generations, and I get that. But it’s also nearly impossible to create technology that will stay relevant for years to come. This is where PC gamers have the advantage, but then again it’s going to cost you some coin to stay up to speed. Either way, you can’t have everything.

To me this is all about compromises, on both sides. Console manufactures simply can’t afford to wait another generation to pass by without upgrading the hardware to match the requirements we need in order to create those amazing 4K graphics or virtual reality worlds. Then again,  they can’t bring a new generation to the table either, it’s way too soon for that. This is surely an interesting move, and I’m excited to see how this all will turn out. Right now all we can do is speculate.

 

 

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