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Roundtable: Is The Console Cycle Really Too Long?

Roundtable: Is The Console Cycle Really Too Long?

Thu 19 Jul 2012 2:42pm GMT / 10:42am EDT / 7:42am PDT
BusinessHardware

GamesIndustry International's writers tackle the subject of current-gen dragging on in this week's roundtable

Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 during holiday 2005. The industry is fast approaching seven full years of current generation gaming - an unthinkable number for many game industry executives pining for a new round of hardware to spark the marketplace and enable new intellectual properties to flourish. In fact, a recent conversation between analyst Michael Pachter and EA CEO John Riccitiello indicated that the publishing executive had been anticipating new consoles to hit the market as much as two years ago, and this extended console cycle is partly to blame for EA's stock price woes.

Moreover, tech experts like Square Enix's Julien Merceron have gone on record with GamesIndustry International to note that this generation "has been way too long." He called out Microsoft and Sony for dragging the console cycle into its eigth year as the "biggest mistake they ever made."  Merceron believes that many developers who had been waiting for next-gen hardware jumped ship to other platforms, particularly digital ones like iOS, Android, Facebook and Steam, and those game designers may never return to consoles.

So is Merceron right? Have Sony and Microsoft fumbled the ball, or is this actually one of the better things to have happened to the games industry in a long time? GamesIndustry International's global editorial team weighs in. 

Rachel Weber

Has this cycle been too long? Look at it is this way, the PlayStation 3 came out in November 2006, about the time Mel Gibson's Apocalypto was released. It was so long ago that man still had a serious career. More relevantly, it was three years later before FarmVille even launched, more than 6 months before anyone even had an iPhone.

The world has changed, and our industry has changed, but the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (which let's not forget is even older) have stayed pretty much the same. Big dusty boxes designed for playing triple-A titles really well, and sort of muddling through when it comes to everything else.

1

Whole new business models have been conceived, carried and shot out into the birthing pool while Sony and Microsoft have eyed each other (and their accounts) carefully and decided to hold of on a new console for just one more year. Sure, they're working on them in some lab in the secret bunker, and unnamed developers, right now, have games in the works, but still they're holding off.

Maybe they think they can't afford to act, but the truth is they can't afford not to. A new console launch would bring back some love to the brands, allow them to open up to the new business models like free-to-play, and reinvigorate the market and the developers and publishers to create new games, and new franchises. Activision is set to release its eighth Call Of Duty title for this generation; don't tell me those dev teams aren't so desperate for a new machine to play with that they're self harming in the lunch hall.

Ben Strauss

I look at this with a bit of imprudence in that I have more games on this platform than I have ever had with any other.  The Xbox 360 and the PS3 (I am ignoring the Wii to an extent without forgetting the fantastic first-party stuff and games like Okami) have brought us some games that I will never forget; Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Ace Combat and Red Dead Redemption remain in my gaming portfolio. Heck, I still own a PS3 that has Backwards Compatibility for my SOCOM and Ace Combat titles for the PS2.

"Sony and Microsoft's argument is they've turned their consoles into entertainment hubs, but I'm pretty sure I can order a Smart Fridge with Netflix streaming now"

Matt Martin

Sure, most of these games will run on PC and they'll be playable for a good long while, but even with the noticeable tech differences (go play Mass Effect 1 again then pop in Mass Effect 3, you'll see), these games are substantial. This generation really made gaming a common thing for many, many people. I believe we should break past the uncanny valley, and I believe graphics have to improve only slightly...it is more on the tech side of creating less choppy character modeling and framerate issues. The hardware needs to change, yes, that's definitely something that has to happen.

Honestly though, we see a lack of new IP, we see a lot of struggling from all the major players in the industry. A new console line-up could definitely pump some blood into the industry, but just how effective is it going to be? I am very, very hesitant on what the future holds for gaming. I see more F2P, I see more mobile, but most of all I see more platform-agnostic games coming out. A new console cycle? Yes, but with caveats. We have to do more to push platform-agnostic titles and overall social connectivity between games.

Matt Martin

I stopped playing games on my PlayStation 3 about 18 months ago and my Xbox 360 hasn't had much love this year apart from flings with Trials Evolution and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. The truth is I've lost interest in console games this generation. I'm playing on my iPad, I broke out the PSone recently, gave the Vita a second chance and even dabbled in PC gaming. I'm looking for kicks anywhere I can find them.

2

Sony and Microsoft's argument is they've turned their consoles into entertainment hubs, but I'm pretty sure I can order a Smart Fridge with Netflix streaming now, so I'm not sure that either of them are doing anything I'm interested in. And I doubt I'm the only gamer who's moved on. Look at the crowds around League of Legends or Tribes: Ascend if you want to know where the hardcore is going. Or Auto Club Revolution, and any number of niche titles catering to genre fans on PC, on Android and iOS, on Facebook.

Do I want a new console? Absolutely, whatever format that may be. But I can't help thinking solid hardware under my TV is as old fashioned a concept as set broadcast times for a TV show. It still works and there's a market for it but all the cool kids are off elsewhere jacking entertainment straight into their eyeballs. I still want a new Call of Duty, but I'd rather play some of it for free, and then buy more levels, online maps and perks at my own pace.

Can new consoles offer all of the services and choice we've seen flourish elsewhere in the time it took the Xbox 360 to go from streaming movies to adopting Twitter and offering free baseball updates? I doubt it, so my fear is that while this generation has dragged on (and it has been a drag), by the time new hardware does come around it will be caught on the back foot, struggling to catch up to a constantly evolving market. If they spend the first 12 months on the market trying to catch up and convince gamers to take an interest, how are consoles going to set their own agenda and become relevant again? That's a terrible position to be in.

It's not that there isn't an audience for consoles because there clearly is, but every day the next generation is delayed is another customer lost, their heads turned by new technology, tailored services and better targeted games.

Steve Peterson

All you need to know about the current console generation is contained in one number: 30 percent. That's the approximate drop in retail sales for consoles and console software this year over last year, the fourth straight year of declines. Publishers are releasing fewer titles, and average sales and prices are dropping. It's past time for new consoles to revive sales, if indeed sales can be brought back to the glory days of 2008. The console makers hate having to lose money for years selling new consoles at a loss, so they've held off. This has allowed mobile, social, and downloadable games, particularly free-to-play ones, to build an impressive audience.

"The longer we wait for new consoles, the lower their chances for long-term success as their competition on many fronts continues to rush forward at full speed"

Steve Peterson

New consoles have their biggest challenge ever: Fighting against a vast array of free-to-play games that, one way or another, are making their way to the same screen that console games have been played on. No genre is immune, as a new generation of FPS and RPG games start combining free-to-play with top-notch graphics. Sony has been letting the camel's nose into the tent with Dust 514 and all the SOE MMORPGs. Gamers will be looking for free-to-play games on new consoles, and if they aren't there, that's a huge reason not to buy a new console.

New consoles are going to need to offer compelling new game experiences (either through innovative controller schemes, like the Wii U, or through hugely better graphics) that simply can't be found elsewhere. Additionally, new consoles will probably need to offer an array of entertainment options in order to justify their price tags, and console makers will have to keep prices of the hardware low to create a big enough audience to justify exclusive development. I think most third-party publishers will hesitate to put the majority of their development resources into next-gen consoles; EA and Activision have already shown this. The longer we wait for new consoles, the lower their chances for long-term success as their competition on many fronts continues to rush forward at full speed.

Matt Handrahan

When you spend five days week looking at the games industry from an objective remove, it's easy to miss the moments that require a personal perspective. I was about to write a few paragraphs about iPhones, social networks, free-to-play, and the myriad other sea-changes that have slipped in the back door as this console generation has lumbered along, making our once adored plastic boxes seem irrelevant, but that would be disingenuous.

"The console developers I've talked to are less enthusiastic about the need to re-learn the details of their jobs every five years"

Matt Handrahan

I don't play games on my phone, I certainly don't on Facebook, and every free-to-play game I've ever tried has seemed compromised by its business model. I like single-player games of the sort that are definitely worth £40, and anything less substantial than, say, Fez or Trials Evolution feels like a waste of my time. In short, I love my console, I'll probably love the next one; if these new platforms constitute the brave new world of gaming, I'll be in my front room, doped up on Soma and playing Skyrim.

Wearing my trade journalist hat, I can see the issues a long life-cycle has caused publishers and retailers, but wishing for the prompt arrival of another generation strikes me as confusing the symptom with the disease. One thing's for sure: while the publishers are anxious for new hardware so they can adhere to the self-imposed logic of when to launch new IP, the console developers I've talked to are less enthusiastic about the need to re-learn the details of their jobs every five years. It serves an agenda, yes, but it isn't necessarily in the service of creativity or making better games.

The solution to all of this is many years away - probably in the cloud - but right now I'm left wondering whether new consoles will really provide the leap we're expecting, or just highlight the true nature of the problem.

Wearing my conspiracy theorist hat, I can't shake the feeling that Microsoft and Sony are probably wondering about the same thing.

David Radd

This generation has gone on too long.  I distinctly remember having a phone conversation right after Microsoft's 2012 E3 press conference saying "This generation of consoles is done."  We're seeing series now get into their fourth major incarnation this year and next, like God of War, Halo and Gears of War. Sequels abounded at the show, reflecting the stagnation pervading the AAA industry right now.

I think this is resulting in retail fatigue - there just isn't the same level of excitement anymore, and it's reflected in the recent NPD reports.  Granted, there's serious disruption going on from the digital sphere, but all of the shiny newness has worn off this generation of consoles.  While there might be a few spectacular games to send this generation off, for the most part it's just going through the motions until things get refreshed.

To speak to the particular issue of "whether it is good for the industry or not" I think it's been good for Microsoft and Sony, and ultimately they're looking out for number one.  Launching consoles is expensive, and I'm sure they've both saved money and made money by delaying as long as possible.  As for Riccitiello, the writing was sort of on the wall for an extended console cycle, so I would be shocked if he hadn't accounted for that.  And I can't disagree more with Merceron's assertion that if new consoles were coming, the dev teams could have been saved by going to bat on a new console - if they weren't making money now, why would they make money working on an even more expensive platform?  Also, there are issues of developer freedom and personal control that reflect the massive defections to the mobile/social space and I'm not sure there's anything the AAA industry could do to change that.

But rightly or wrongly in extending the lifespans, we really need new consoles now.

Mike Williams

Microsoft set the tone by holding off with a new console announcement. The Kinect still has some life left in it and Microsoft is too busy setting up its Windows 8 ecosystem to worry about the launch of another home system. Outside of SmartGlass, E3 felt like Microsoft was playing a waiting game. Subsequent announcements of the Surface tablet, Windows Phone 8, and Office 2013 have shown where the company's focus is in 2012.

"There's the big question of what exactly a new console generation will even offer. Is the jump to Unreal Engine 4 graphics really enough to change the retail slump we see every month with NPD?"

James Brightman

Sony seems increasingly muddled. Move is a non-entity, the Vita is hidden in perpetual shadow, and the PlayStation 3 would be equally forgotten without a strong showing of PlayStation Network games, Beyond, and The Last of Us. The recent acquisition of Gaikai is interesting, but we're probably a ways out from seeing Sony capitalize on it.

Nintendo's Wii U is fun, but feels more like an extension on the existing generation instead of the next generation. Nintendo needs to find the Wii U's story: the reason for Wii players to upgrade and 360/PS3 players to buy a whole new system to play the same games.

PC and mobile markets are where all the change is happening in the industry, with publishers and developers feeling out free-to-play, subscriptions, microtransactions, and cloud-based services. Sony and Microsoft have the networks to capitalize on these new trends, but both are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to actual support.

So we stand at the last hurrah of this generation, closing out with a number of titles in March of 2013, a few months before the next E3. It's a shift that needs to happen in 2013, lest investors run scared into the waiting arms of mobile and social network gaming companies. Publishers, developers, and consumers are ready for the next shiny novelty to drive sales, hype, and new IP. Don't keep us waiting.

James Brightman

The issue of whether this cycle has dragged on for too long depends on whose perspective you're coming from. Clearly, for Microsoft and Sony, the length isn't a problem. It's enabled the companies to streamline costs and recoup costs on massively expensive hardware to R&D and manufacture. Sony especially could use a breather before doing it all over again.

The fast-growing sector of the industry encompassing Facebook, mobile and digital PC developers sure doesn't care about how long this cycle is. In fact, as Square Enix's Julien Merceron pointed out, the length of this cycle may very well have spurred on the growth of social and mobile, and as far as I'm concerned, this is a huge boon for gaming on a global scale.

Social and mobile by themselves aren't the cure all for this business, but clearly there's a great desire from the creatives in the industry to break out from the five-year console mold dominated by massive publishers who want to control the IP rights of the precious games that these developers toil to create.

3

And in terms of the publishers making excuses and holding back on new IP, as Matt Handrahan noted, that's some self-imposed nonsense. It could be argued that now is a great time to launch a new franchise (kudos to Naughty Dog for The Last of Us!). The installed bases are built-up and many gamers are tired of the same old, same old, over and over. And from a technical standpoint these games already look brilliant - especially this late in the cycle.

That's not to say that I don't desire new hardware - but I'm in no rush. And there's also the big question of what exactly a new console generation will even offer. Is the jump to Unreal Engine 4 graphics really enough to change the retail slump we see every month with NPD? The future is digital, and the platform holders better figure out what they're going to do about it, or else they'll cease to exist. Sony's acquisition of Gaikai at least gives me some hope.

41 Comments

Jason Marchant Editor/Journalist/Copywriter

8 1 0.1
If you don't like the length of the reign of the current gen, buy a PC. As a consumer first and and Games ex-industry type second, I like feeling my console investment is still paying dividends. Granted I play fewer games on my PS3 and have just sold my 360, but the PlayStation is still my movie hub and I expect it will remain so for some time to come.

Judging by the sales of CoD, Mass Effect and FIFA, there's still life in the old dog yet.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

David Lee Chief Concepticator, Concepticate

18 12 0.7
Unless I missed it through careless reading, I didn't see a single mention of the state of the global economy in the speculation above. Consumers have income constraints and there are no signs that the fundamentals (income, jobs) are going to improve in the foreseeable future. Sure, a console launch can bring some excitement, but it also means $400 (as a ballpark figure) that players have to come up with for hardware, which means $400 less for software. And what exactly are the killer new hardware features that are going to drive a console purchase? GPU power is growing, but I'm not sure this will make a huge difference to gamers.

I give Nintendo credit for trying something different with Wii U, but even assuming they launch at a modest price the economic climate is much less favorable than it was when Wii launched in late 2006. I don't pick up on a huge demand from players for a Wii U or for a new Sony or MS console--there's more excitement when a new iPad comes out. This doesn't mean new consoles can't work (I think looking to the way smartphones are sold for less upfront in exchange for a subscription outlay over time like MS is doing with the $99 Xbox is a potential new financial model) but I don't feel the lack of a new console is dragging down the market. It's more that the entire entertainment industry is feeling the effects of fewer disposable dollars and other gaming models are rising in prominence relative to consoles.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Joseph Cassano QC Development Tester, Ubisoft Toronto

3 1 0.3
This console cycle has gone for a while, but I don't think that the length will necessarily hurt new-console demand. In the realm of big AAA titles, the only real choices are console or PC. PC can be amazing for those willing to put the time into it, but getting the latest game you bought to run on your machine can turn into a hassle (some older games prove to be hassles to run too). With a console, however, because of hardware standardization, any game you bought for it is guaranteed to run as well as anybody else's copy on the same console. For the average consumer who wants to play the bigger games, this is very enticing.

I only really see that changing once Internet connections/speeds get better and cloud gaming really kicks off. At that point, the most convenient way to play the big titles will be to stream. But convenience and ease of use will always be a big factor for the consumer, I think. I know it is for myself.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Without this long cycle, Naughty Dog wouldn't be doing its best work, nor would some other console developers who've managed to surprise many people with what they've done with "aging" hardware. Also, I'd say PC gaming is benefiting from this cycle, as those developers who make games for the high-end user market (seemingly made up of people who despise console gaming, if message board posts are any indication) are coming up with some quality work.

If anything, this cycle is sort of weeding out the true gamers from the "trendys" who leap from one platform to another and don't give a shit that the gaming experience is lesser for it in many aspects. If you're not playing that console because your iPad is "better" or whatever, maybe you need to broaden your horizons and try more genres, I say. You may be surprised at a console game you might have initially dismissed.

Yes, too many sequels, me-too games, awful crap business decisions (like day one DLC, patching required to run certain console games - some of which run worse with them) and overly jaded consumers all come into play. Add in overpaid analysts trying to force their opinions as to when a new system should launch (comments that seem to be geared more to shareholders than actual gamers), an ongoing recession that's actually one HUGE reason why there's a slump in sales (no thanks to the current pricing model on retail games) and you might want to reexamine some of your points.

Why not spend time talking to folks outside the office who get ignored in these sorts of discussions? I do this frequently and let's just say, people are hurting financially, many a LOT more than you'd think. YOU have good paying jobs you enjoy (hopefully), so yeah, you can buy that new device or whatever cool tech when you like (and perhaps some of you may even get games for free). Meanwhile, Joe Gamer who's out of work over a year and used to buy six to eight (or more) games a month is shit out of luck and has probably sold his consoles for rent and food money.

As noted, a new console cycle really won't mean much outside of the hype over graphics and whatever flawed delivery system will be foisted on the public (when digital should be FAR cheaper than retail, period). Sure, those early adopters who can afford to blow money new systems and every launch/launch window title they can buy will prop things up for a bit. However, let's face it... we're basically getting the same damn games with more particles and stuff falling over when run into or shot at.

Game development costs will probably rise on new tech (while Metacritic scores stay the same), which will lead to MORE articles here on studios shutting down after their new IP does worse than "expected" because of a few reasons (some of which will make no sense in this era of gamers not appreciating what goes into making a game and instead criticizing nonsense like the choice of voice actors or a character redesign that makes people angry before they've even touched a controller)...

Posted:2 years ago

#4
"Is the jump to Unreal Engine 4 graphics really enough to change the retail slump..."

Ha - you did not even get to Unreal Engine 3 on the Gen-7 systems till more than a year into the cycle! Lets face the facts, the hype machine behind the highly price and vastly sized PS3 fell so flat that Sony have been hurting ever since. They think a new-new-new slimmer system is a good idea just months from the tech specs of the PS4 are released, then they are on crack!!!

The console sales slide is being ignored, as investors are divesting themselves of publisher and studio holdings. The weather forecast for the console sector before Gen-8 looks VERY bad. This is not helped by over-hyping by the media and publishers, and the whole shambolic E3. The rumors circulating about the Watch Dog teaser running on a over spec PC adding to the big mess (explaining the back peddling seen by Ubisoft on the final performance - as also has been done on ZombiU).

What we need to see is a realistic approach to the next gen, and the hype mentality of certain commentators turned down to zero! Especially if Gen-8 may end up to be the launch of the subscription funded 'set-top-box' game platform approach.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 19th July 2012 5:44pm

Posted:2 years ago

#5
@Greg, "...Without this long cycle, Naughty Dog wouldn't be doing its best work, nor would some other console developers..."

Well in reality, these developers / studios would not have survived on the consoles in that climate, and would be working on PC (as they do in reality - having to work hard to shoehorn downwards!)

I wonder if it would be best just to abandon the consoles and revert to a PC initiative. What Counter Strike did to force the consoles to emulate PC fps - DAYZ seems to be doing to force the Gen-8 developers wonder about environmental realism!!

The more the console mags' try and ignore PC's the greater the exodus to a system that can provide a compelling performance curve. Buying a new graphics card each five years a better reality than buying a new console. Best leave the console manufacturers to building their expensive subscription based set-top-box approach (reminds me of 1984 all over again... any one for a Elan!)

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
"Roundtable: Is The Console Cycle Really Too Long?"

Yes.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

M.H. Williams Staff Writer, USgamer

37 32 0.9
I see the poor economy brought up, but iPhone, iPad, and MacBook sales remain high quarter to quarter, despite admittedly high price tags.

Find the right story and the consumers will come. Can Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do that? That remains the question.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

James Brightman Editor in Chief, GamesIndustry.biz

250 412 1.6
It's really about selling services now. Xbox Live vs PSN/Gaikai. If Gaikai is successful for Sony, then PlayStation will exist on all sorts of hardware. No need to have a specific "console." I think the subsidized route is bound to happen. Buy a yearly Gaikai subscription, get the next PlayStation console for $99, sort of like the XBL subsidized strategy happening now.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Yeah... make em last between 3 and 5 years and use current technology to make them, so the costs can come down, and rather than changing everything... controllers, networks, online feature, backwards compatability of games, just upgrade what is in the box and thats it. Its stupid to buy every game for each new piece of hardware. its stupid to buy new controllers/peripherals, and its certainly is STUPID to create a whole new digital, download network and online comunity for each iteration of each piece of hardware. Just upgrade the specs and keep backwards compatibility with previouse software and peripherals. Sell these things for $150 and $300 dollers. What is the point of repeatedly creating hardware that sells at a loss or that people cant afford?

And what the hell was the differance between Unreal engine 3 and 4 anyway. i saw both demo's and no matter what they said, the differance wasnt really that huge between them. What is this obsession over an xbox thats 6 times as powerful when more than half the games dont use or need that power.

Why pay 350+ to play uncharted on VITA in a small screen that has a rear touch panel that hardly any games use...

What the hell is this obsession of having higher specs? Just make good games dammit... I mean look at what current gen can do with games like the last of us, xenoblade, super smash bros. and the new tomb raider.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 19th July 2012 6:32pm

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
@kevin

Try telling all that to someone who lives in an area in the US where they can't afford a decent gaming PC, don't have access to reliable broadband or hell, simply doesn't want to play PC games because they like their mascot characters and a system that doesn't require tinkering around with or upgrading.

And as for buying new graphics card every five years? Hmmm. I think that's an underestimate for certain games I've seen, read about and played.

In a way, the console market is a tiny bit like the current TV market where no one is buying much because what they have is just fine and gimmicks such as 3D, Internet-enables TVs and other options are being left on the shelves because many who've been forced to upgrade (thanks to the loss of the analog signal) aren't budging into the stores unless they're replacing a broken set.

Sure, a new generation will be thrilling to many, but if it's the same old games, it'll be a big "who cares"...

Speaking of "who cares" it's the same damn thing with graphics for me. No one I know who saw it gave a hoot in hell about WHAT Watch_Dogs was running on. it was the unique gameplay (outside the gunplay stuff) and what looked to be a much bigger idea at play at the demo's end that thrilled us when we saw it. I really don't give a flying pig about the PC over console "debate" that's all pissing contest at the end of the day.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
@M.H.:

I see the poor economy brought up, but iPhone, iPad, and MacBook sales remain high quarter to quarter, despite admittedly high price tags.
That would be mostly the flock of Apple-heads trading up and yes, bringing in a few friends that also want a flawed (but fun to use product). People who buy those products can afford them (usually), where again, if you talk to people who don't have one of these wonder toys, it's usually for a few good reasons, price being the first or second.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
ipads, iphones and macbooks are used for things other than making games. Most people that have them dont play games. At work 600 ipads were bought, but its for education purposes, workshops and stuff like that. I hate it when people compare these products to video game consoles. I have a macbook, but its to do graphic design work, i dont own a single game for it. However I own most video game consoles, thats where I enjoy playing, and the games I like come out for them. So apple products can play games, they were not made for that. And i choose a traditional game pad and large TV screen to play games over any apple product.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

240 99 0.4
I personally don't think the current gen has been reigning too long, it's only now they actually start to fully use the consoles, also the next gen won't even be that much more powerfull as you would expect from a 8 year leap from last gen..
What Sony and MS should do, is respond to the rise of casualgaming, I mean, the consoles are more than capable enough to run those kind of games, the stores are capable enough to house them, so what's stopping them?
Also if it were up to me the nextgen would still be a few years away, so it can actually be soooo much more powerfull, but then again, by then cloudgaming services like OnLive and Gaikai will take off as more and more people will have a stable highspeed internetline..

Actually the only technical problem both consoles have these days is they both have not enough memory, if only they had equipt both with 1GB memory (which even in that time was only a few dollars more).

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Yeah more RAM, dont understand why they dont add more.

Posted:2 years ago

#15
@ Greg,

Can not really fault your observations - just add to them.

The console sector (R&D in 2010) had looked at building a PS4 - faster, bigger, hotter type of machine. Then in 2011 the whole game changed and the management decided to go for a set-top-box (Tevo) style approach (less-powerful and subscription based). Now MS has also decided to go down this route dropping their original plan too (razor blade business model), and so they have left Nintendo in a cold place ploughing their own furrow.

I attended a consumer electronics 'owning the livingroom' seminar last year and they all presented the "buy a $99 box and get a $8 monthly subscription" model. All the investors there agreed and have started the process of divesting their console developers stock for connectivity investment - it just seems that the console trade media and executives did not get the memo?

Finally, your comment about heartland of America (and Europe) not able to afford a PC and the upgrades path... I agree (would also add the point that those areas also miss out on good available connectivity) - but I still feel that its the games that drive the buyer/customer hunger. I feel that COD could have been 20% more expensive and enough (core) players would still pay for it, and to be honest it is not written anywhere that consumer gaming should be accessible too all (sort of like owning a Mercedes - if you can afford it great, but there are other cheaper cars out there!)

Posted:2 years ago

#16

M.H. Williams Staff Writer, USgamer

37 32 0.9
@Greg
This is true to a point, but 35.1 million iPhones, 11.8 million iPads, and 7.7 million iPods last quarter alone is a larger than a simple niche fanbase.

My point is consumers will pay for a product if the story is compelling. Even cheap tablet sales (like the Kindle Fire I own) weren't significant in magnitude compared to the iPad, because Amazon didn't sell the consumer on the magic of the device. Google seems poised to do it better with the Nexus 7.

$300-400 might be a lot for a home console, but part of that is the perception that all consoles do is play games. Framed differently and it becomes a different sale.

@Rick
I agree as well in my gaming preferences, but the fact is developers are beginning to treat the platforms like they do consoles. Even just buying an iPad or MacBook for graphic design allows Apple to turn around and say "we have 55 million iPads sold since April 2010". Investors and publishers look at console and mobile sales, and then decide where to put their money accordingly. Sad, but true.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Johan H. W. Basberg CEO / Lead Designer, Gatada Games

9 0 0.0
The console cycle should be long enough to allow time for at least two or maybe three large and consecutive AAA titles be developed by the same team. If each game takes about 2-3 years to complete, the cycle needs to be between 4-9 years.

Allowing the console to settle for a year, brings it down to 5-9, removing the extremes 6-8, and going for the middle leaves me with a golden 7 year cycle. Neither the Xbox360 or PS3 are comfortable in 1080p. They are both obviously on their way out. But the next generation should feature hardware that matches the capabilities of the equipment already in the living room, and could therefore stay longer - maybe 8-10 years.

But this entire topic is so, boring. We should discuss how much better the games will become if we jump from this to the next generation. Will they really be that much better? At least for the next generation consoles I have a feeling justifying an update will become very much harder.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

David Amirian Writer

59 3 0.1
i dont know why it matters. its not like there's the option to have the newer consoles right now, so you have to deal with it. if it forces publishers to actually have to figure out how to market their games correctly to sell them, then good.

the new consoles are going to be inevitable. There's no point in supporting old hardware forever for new games, even if games dont take advantage of all the extra power in the next gen, technology advances.

Posted:2 years ago

#19
@Johan,
The Gen-7 cycle was an unusual (never to be repeated) period in the game industries history. Sony took one of the biggest gambles of its history... and lost. The collapse of revenue linked to a failed approach towards consumer electronics and entertainment investment has crippled the operation (stealing defeat from the jaws of victory). While MS attempted to get back just some of the considerable investment Bill placed in the XB entertainment division with a compromise platform (XB360), saved by the KINECT.

All this has been framed by the move towards a subscription business model (as I outlined in my comments to Greg). The one aspect I would underline is that more time has been wasted trying to get a PC SDK to be shoehorned into a PS4 or XB360, wastes too much time (mainly because marketing teams hype the performance of the console so forcing the developer to work harder to achieve just 50% of the promise).

Finally, what you may call an AAA title may be just a players B+. I would say if the next GTA dose not perform as promised, then this could not only cripple the developer/publisher but could impact the whole distribution route. The console industry only has itself to blame for undermining itself to this level. Falsely propping-up the retail/distribution sector in the face of the inevitable demand for DLC (and pre-owned), will be carved on a number of executives tombstones.

Posted:2 years ago

#20
@David,
I think you may have missed the crux of the matter - the developers are concerned that they will be stuck with a moderately better XB370 or PS3.5 with a major subscription model eating into their revenue. Many of them had been promised a 'significant' hardware upgrade to ease the development path, and now see they will have to work twice as hard to squeeze the games into the reduced hardware (all this for less of the cheddar).

We will see the backlash as more studios go to the wall in August (next financial numbers) - executives complaining that what they were promised back in 2011 dose not compare to what they will actually get. By then the players will start to migrate to the 'next best thing' and as the Beta of DAYZ gets more traction we will see a exodus to a STEAM style solution - at that point a lot of 'console-fanboys' will find that they have burnt their bridge and can not follow - this emulating the situation that engendered the 1984 crash!

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group

51 30 0.6
The next console cycle starts at GTA 5 + 12 months.

Posted:2 years ago

#22
Many companies in their effort to reduce the costs inherent of the console cycle(and I doubt it was just MS & sony calling for this, regardless if some may have changed they minds since) seem to have forgotten that gamers as general rule, like magpies like shiny things, nearly everyone likes to have better graphics in the game they just bought then the one they bought before it, now of course new types of gameplay in new settings can trump graphics especially for more casual gamers but consoles barring the wii were designed for hardcore gamers not social gamers.

And yes additions like TV and films have extended the uses of the hardware, and products like move and kinect along with digital indie games have extended their market to social and casual gamers but ultimately its been to long since anything visually revolutionary has touched the triple a console market, hardcore gamers dont mind sequel's as a general rule if they find something fun its likely they'll find it fun again but they do expect something shinier and newer from a sequel graphically than its previous incarnation, a wow factor if you will, they've grown to expect this from gaming as new and better graphics are vital nature of what keeps such ip's ticking along, from a pc standpoint the current console hardware is now very old, whilst pound for pound this long lifecycle has allowed the average console game to draw more from the old hardware then say the average new pc game on modern pc hardware, its also held back graphical advancement as many ip's cross-platform nature mean they are as fast as their slowest platform, and any optimizations for other platforms tend to be only skin deep, there are of course exceptions to this, but many major ip's pc port's are a pale shadow of what they could have looked like were pc's power the primary development focus.

Given triple A sales often rely on new and shiner graphics to provide part, not all granted but part of the reason for gamers to buy a sequel, this overly long cycle has eroded the entire triple a market, as each new release has offered less and less as far new experiences, and as sales figures are clearly showing gamers dont like this, they want their new games to be new, content and graphics and if there are sequals they want them to be shiner then the gamers that came before them, whilst yes a 5 year cycle is a headache financially and technically for developers and hardware manufacturers alike a 8-10 year cycle may well sound the death knell for traditional console sales, and whilst obviously worth finding out I think by this point the evidence of the result of this experiment in lifecycle longevity by MS & Sony is now in, and its not looking good.

Given the wii U's primary focus is still casual and budget gamers despite any protestations otherwise I do not think it should be judged in the same page as the other consoles, it will be sufficiently powerful to run port's of current generation title and it will be years like with most consoles after release before it reaches its graphical peak, and the 4870 gfx chip on which its based is significantly more powerful then the ATI 1900 gen chip found in an xbox360 whilst the 4870 still pales in comparison with say the 7970 of the latest pc hardware generation, the 7970 remains high end hardware whilst the 4870 is formerly high end hardware now ripe for mass-production for inclusion in a product at the kinda price point Nintendo will be selling them for, but its still not so old that it doesnt still produce reasonable graphical power. And by using it they will be able to introduce their console to market faster and cheaper then choosing more powerful hardware, and with a price point some hardcore console gamers may well be attracted to a wii u, if for no other reason its been so long since they had new hardware they'll be literally gagging for it as long as it looks even slightly better then existing gen consoles, though the wii u may well attract new customers for nintendo and return of some old ones, they will have a harder time selling to existing Wii customers, unless they really can get a fair number of decent tiles that use that unique controller in the wii u in rapid order, as the xbox360 and ps3's lowering price point will provide competition in the casual console space, but I think comparing the wii directly to be no better then a xbox360 is a little harsh, taking the gpu part alone.

Infact I have one (a 4870) in my media centre pc that I originally bought as a spare graphics card for my primary high end pc as my nvidia card failed(which alas in my experience they tend to before warranty, I've had issues with both the 280 GTX failing and the 480 GTX's failing (infact I had 2 of them in SLI, they both failed (not at once) and the replacement they sent me for one was a dud resulting eventually in a refund of that part) all within warranty I've ended up swapping back to ATI this generation and going with a 7970(who I originally moved away from due to their lousy drivers back in vista release time), the only nvidia cards in recent times I've found reliable has been a 9800 GTX (a budget buy I bought at the end of its lifecyle for a bargain price)which I bought for former main pc (the one that had the eventually faulty 280 gtx) that is now a server.

Which goes to show that buying the latest and greatest hardware at the highest costs does not necessarily mean excellent reliability, and one thing about the current console generation's age that is positive is that at least they're pretty reliable by this point, and reliability should be part of the design process for the next generation console's on the basis this generation got off to a lousy start, with the xbox360's ring of death and the ps3's complementary room heater (with comparable volume fan to boot)at release, I hope they learned the lessons from this generation by the time next one rolls around, they could probably get away with extending console life-cycle to 6 years on a permanent basis but anything beyond that will cause software sales to suffer, is my judgment on the result of this generation, alas I suspect both Sony and MS are eyeing cloud gaming services as an alternative to offering new hardware from the very start for the next gen consoles, with perhaps only Nintendo intending on releasing new hardware in cycle, so the next console generation may last even longer than this one, if not be the last for 2 of the 3 major players, if of course gamers haven't moved on to other platforms in the meantime, and it remains to be seen if cloud gaming has any true chance of taking up the slack, and the increased latency of such services long-term as an alternative to new hardware sales may end up restricting certain types of game-play from consoles using them even when the world's net hardware has advanced to a point where the reliable high speed connections required for such gaming is available to all.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 20th July 2012 2:08am

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Well considering that AAA titles take so long to make, i dont think it would be too troublesome to upgrade the hardware regardless. If the console developers can establish a standard develpment enviroment that will work on differant hardware regardless of specs, like OSX, Windows, Direct X, Open GL, Android. For example, Android, frequently gets upgraded, and many differant types of hardware run android. As android and hardware gets upgraded, all previouse software still work with them, regardless of hardware.

Where consoles fail is that with each iteration, they change the whole enviroment. Processors change, and the games have to be programmed with differant processors in mind, controller inputs change. At least now controllers have become standard. And so far i like what Nintendo is doing with WiiU. everything I have for my Wii is compatible with it. Controllers, wiimote, peripherals, games and everything i download of the network.

If this trend continues then consoles will be more comforatible to develope for. I certainly would wish the next iteration of the Playstation would use the same dual shock controllers, they have beome standard and I dont see anything else they can add to it, except maybe a touch screen. but thats ok cause all previouse games will be compatible as long as all the previouse button inputs remain.

i think the touch screen is good idea to allow the developer to add custom button inputs that the controller lacks. And major changes to consoles, should come between 12 and 16 years. I dont think everything has to change just to make a box with more RAM or faster processor speeds. And games that take long to develope dont have to be interupted.

Its like when new processors come out for PCs... it it doesnt really halt development or interrupt games in production. If direct x12 comes out, newer iterations of processors and harware arquitecture can run direct x11 as well as the new direct x12 or current open gl standards. Why did the xbox network have to change from the original xbox to a new network for the 360?

I probably said the same thing many times in differant ways. hope you guys understand where Im coming from and why the current console video game business model has to change. Im a console gamer and I prefer no other way to play games as with a console. i think it has a bright future if they modify certain things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 20th July 2012 12:50pm

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
By dragging the current console cycle on for so long (over 7 years) the platform manufacturers got out of step with technology. They tried to get round this with sticking plaster solutions like Kinect, but they only slightly delayed the inevitable. The console market has been in decline since 2008 and that decline has accelerated recently into a collapse.

So they lost in technology. Next they lost in the market by being totally undermined by the app store business model. The platform manufacturers remained too wedded to bricks and mortar retail for too long and the market left them behind. This has been compounded by the way FTP has come to dominate the market in the last 12 months. Even the juggernaut that is WoW adapted to the new reality. Kudos to Activision for adapting.

Consoles have driven themselves into a niche, they are no longer the mainstream. It will be interesting to see what tricks they pull to get out of it.

Gaming has exploded in popularity. Angry Birds has over a thousand million downloads. With this gaming has become a lot cheaper. £40 is no longer realistic when there are so many fantastic gaming experiences that are free. We live in a different world that has left the consoles behind. And this is a good thing for the development and health of the gaming industry.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
I cannot abide Angry Birds being referred to as something that's good for the games industry.

I mostly agree with you Bruce. The console manufacturers are a long, long way behind the rest of the world, but I don't blame their decline on mobile apps, cheap, throwaway gaming experiences or any other such factor. They are two separate markets. Battlefield 3 players do not occupy their time playing Angry Birds, and that type of gamer numbers in nine figures too.

That both come under the umbrella term of 'gaming' does not make them the same thing, nor does it mean they fight for the same audience. They do not. No more than The Dark Knight Rises fights for The Only Way Is Essex crowd because they are both delievered via a screen. They coexist, but they do not in any way oppose one another. It baffles me why people still posit the argument that these two groups are the same audience. There is crossover, sure, but that woman on the bus playing Habbo on ther Android phone this morning is not on her way to buy the latest Gears Of War. 10 million 'gamers', however, are.

There will always be a market for big-budget, blockbuster experiences. The real question is one of delivery and, as you quite rightly say, cost.

But to say that consoles are no longer mainstream, well, it's just not true. They are more mainstream than they ever have been. The only way you could justify that comment is to compare it with the eight squillion people who fiddle with Angry Birds.

I continue to be prepared to pay £40 for AAA, big-budget gaming and that's not going to change anytime soon.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 20th July 2012 9:19am

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Mike Kebby Marketing Manager, Green Man Gaming

19 2 0.1
@ Dan Howdle

Finally some sense. I'm so tired of seeing people compare AAA packaged titles with mobile apps/games.

You've summed it up better than I could, but there is a market for both, they both support the industry well (in their own ways) and they will co-exist for many years to come.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
I don't think this console cycle has been too long. We have the same games that would have been made on the next consoles on the current ones instead. Whoever is trying to say otherwise is delusional - gamers are not missing out on anything and, if anything, developers are reaping the financial benefits of getting to know the architecture and development pipeline for the current consoles as opposed to switching to a new development environment with a console change.

I see quotes like this from David Radd (along with similar echoes from the other writers) and I wonder what world you're all living in:

We're seeing series now get into their fourth major incarnation this year and next, like God of War, Halo and Gears of War. Sequels abounded at the show, reflecting the stagnation pervading the AAA industry right now.
I think this is resulting in retail fatigue - there just isn't the same level of excitement anymore, and it's reflected in the recent NPD reports.


You think that the sequels would not just shift onto the next consoles? Sequels are not an indication as to the health of the console generation, the creativeness of the industry or the preferences of the consumer. After all, we have the PC as a control (as in scientific control for an experiment) that we can compare the consoles to and we see the same trend in sequels and focus on specific genres for the big games.
No, this is an indication that the people who make the decisions are more risk averse for big games. The smaller games are just as creative and diverse as they've always been - on all platforms.

I also think it's erroneous to place the sales numbers as reflective of the tiredness of the situation as well. As mentioned above we have economic difficulties worldwide and as I mentioned above those self-same sequels and games would just be released onto the new hardware anyway so what difference would that make to the consumers? Why would they be more excitable by that? Just look at the PS1 and PS2 for a comparison. There were some huge games that sold incredibly well after the "end of life" of those consoles. Also comparing with the PC market - you don't see people getting "tired" of those same games. It doesn't exist. People/consumers don't "tire" of entertainment - they might go through fads and phases (e.g. Westerns, FPSes etc) but they don't stop wanting more.

The reality of the situation is that we could stick with the same consoles for eternity and still come up with new experiences to enjoy on them if they are allowed to be made and if people can afford to purchase them. The only people being hurt by declining console numbers are the console manufacturers... or maybe that 100 million+ install base just isn't doing it for developers and publishers? Maybe they want something smaller to release on?

If anyone thinks we're tapped out then it's basically curtains for the industry and curtains for the human race.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
The cycles should end and manufacturers should simply create standards for there platform, that are met with each iteration. The WiiU is making the first steps towards this. It takes away nothing from the previouse console, all games, downlaod content, controller peripherals from the previose iteration of the console work on the new one. Same should be done with the online features.

A major change should come between 12 and 20 years, such as a major change of operating system or programming language. Such as the possibilities offered by Memristor technology and Quantum computing.

I think the next consoles should use current technology, be cheaper to manufacture, be sold at a profit, and create set standards that wont render all features of the previouse consoles absolete. In turn, not changing the development and user enviromant as to alienate or create a technological transition that is nothing more than a costly hindurance to customers, console manufacturers and developers. old development kits can be used to create content for new consoles, is probably a good example.

Because its crazy to buy every single peice of software for every new or differant iteration of software, its stupid to create an entire network and online community around it. At least with nintendo i dont have to go out and buy 4 more wiimotes... Whats does SONY expect me to do when PS4 comes out, buy 2 or 3 more controllers too? Just upgrade the box add more RAM, faster processors and thats it. Why does the end of every cycle mean impending doom for everything that was developed before, why keep fragmenting the market and making things such a hindurance, for consumers and developers? Why make everything that came before obsolete rather than build upon it? Is upgrading the specs for a box that hard. and do they need to be upgraded 6 or 8 times over? is it necessary?

These companies are so greedy so arrogant, so dumb... I wish I could Run SONY... at the end of the day, no matter how much technology you have, games have to entertain. A huge amount of technology cant make up for lack of creativity. So why this obssetion to create the most powerful console, when in a year or two, something more powerful will come along. Just use current technology. I mean look at the iPOD. And i think both SONY and microsoft should stop this space-race to shove technologies up peoples arses, that they dont want.

The rear touch panel on the PS Vita was easily a cost they could shave off, the could have went with standard memory cards instead of proprietary one, they could allow all PSN network games to be playable on both portable and home console using the same software. Nobody cares about 3D, nobody wanted UMD discs. What is the point of investing in the CELL processor, when now they plan to abandon it? Whats the point of creating a console that can fly to the moon, when it just needs to be in peoples living room?

So going back to the cycles... do they have to exist? If Nintendo is smart they would put an expansion port like they did on all their consoles prior to the Wii. It can come in handy to upgrade RAM or add an additional graphics card. this in turn would allow developers to develope on there own time, using older development kits, upgrading them when they can and also getting rid of the hindurance the comes for consumers at the end of each cycle. For this alone Im OK with each cycle lasting longer if they still want to go about this business model.

The ideal solution would be for console manufacturers, to get rid of the cycles and create standard platforms to develope on. SONY invested so much on the CELL processor and in turn it cost them and consumers a great deal, cause now an iPAD probably has a much better processor. What was the whole point.

Cycles should end, standards should be created for each platform, allowing for gradual increase of hardware, at lower cost in shorter time periods.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 20th July 2012 1:54pm

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
Given the expense to consumers, developers and manufacturers so far, no.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Charles Herold Wii Games Guide, about.com

36 80 2.2
Is the game industry really in a place where the only thing driving demand is better graphics? Is the possibility that gaming innovation and originality are not even worth discussing?

Almost every analyst is saying, yes, we need new consoles, but I disagree. Sure, it will give a short-term bump to the industry, because a lot of gamers want the latest and greatest, but at some point technology is going to plateau, and the game industry needs to start thinking outside the box of graphics improvement now. Game developers need to think about what excites gamers besides shiny new graphics. As much as people are deriding Nintendo, I think there is something to be said for emphasizing innovation over graphics.

But even then, how many new controllers can you come up with? What we need are games that inspire people. The Sims was a monster hit not because of its incredible graphics but because it offered something new and unexpected that grabbed people. Same thing with Wii Sports. And sure, core gamers may sneer at both of those (and certainly neither is a favorite of mine), but they prove that thinking outside of the box is a powerful tool.

Every analyst in this article except Handrahan and Brightman wants a new console, now, but that sort of groupthink is not going to get us anywhere in the long term. The industry as a whole needs to let go of certain assumptions. Movies got a bump from 3D, but ultimately the movie industry has to survive primarily by figuring out what movies people want to watch. The game industry needs to quit looking for a quick fix and start thinking about what games people want to play.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

182 202 1.1
Rick, what you describe is basically a PC, it doesn't work in practice because with consoles you need to hit 1) a sweet spot with price and 2) offer competitive power or gimmick to give people a reason to switch. It would be hard to fulfill these requirements while not selling hardware at a loss.

And the PC model isn't that great to develop for, you either go high end, alienating a large part of your consumers, or cater to the lowest common denominator, with the added headache of different hardware combinations and compatibility issues.

As a developer and 3D artist, i'd rather have substantial hardware upgrades every generation than some fragmented, PC-like ecosystem trying to keep backwards compatibility.

If console platform holders do indeed go cheap and try selling me some underwhelming 100 watt set top box for 99$ but subscription based that's barely a step above the 360, i'd rather go back to PC development and hope exclusive full budget PC productions make a big comeback by way of F2P or other business models.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
If new hardware is not revealed by 2013 or 2014 by that matter, then you could rest assured that both Sony and Microsoft perhaps don't care anymore about the traditional videogame market and have left the new hardware generation to the WiiU.

However I would hate to see all of next gen turning out the same unreal 4 engine all the time. because if that were to happen then next gen would be a little boring. Keep me with the older Japanese games of the PS2 generation that also contain HD graphics and anime video scenes in Blue Ray style, that is how I would love to have the next gen to in regards to Japanese games.

A little bit of the new polish but still use the older anime art style that works so well in 2D and does not need the unreal 4 treatment that other next gen games would get.

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
@David Lee

Brilliant deduction in regards to how the economy has suffered globally since 2008, that was the last time we saw any retail profit made in the games industry and maybe the reasons why Microsoft and Sony are resident in releasing new hardware if they are going to overblown the costs.

why waste money now in troubled economy in Europe and America when waiting for things to get right may be the best thing, or the worst thing if the WiiU happens to succeed and do an NES on everyone.

Posted:2 years ago

#34

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

321 748 2.3
@Dan Howdle

Well said. The idea that "games" are a homogenous commodity like sacks of potatoes is beyond idiotic. It's possible to make gloriously deep and rewarding games under the technical and commercial constraints of the F2P model, but they don't address the same kind of demand. Your Batman/TOWIE analogy is spot on.

Tribes: Ascend is brilliant, but it's not scratching the same itch as Portal 2 or Skyrim or Deus Ex. Infinity Blade can eat up idle hours but it's not Dark Souls or Soul Calibur. Blockbuster games are derided for not taking risks, but there's currently no other model that allows years of work to be put into R&D and content creation to actually push the medium forward. You can't always set up the toll gate before you've finished the bridge.

The good news is there's room for both kinds of experience and the demand for them, or platforms capable of supporting them, are not going anywhere.

Posted:2 years ago

#35

Steve Peterson West Coast Editor, GamesIndustry.biz

109 73 0.7
I think several trends are converging to make things difficult for console games. Mostly, F2P games on mobile or PC are not anything like an immersive console game. Yet surveys consistently show that console gamers do play a lot of mobile and social games, as well as their console games. I think the huge number of free games has to have an effect on what people consider to be a reasonable price for games. Especially with tough economic times, you tend not to spend $60 on a game unless you're sure you like it. Instead you may spend some time playing League of Legends or some other free game, or just put in more time on the free multiplayer action of your favorite console game. Thus the collapse of the midlist games, and the even higher sales of the best-known sequels (like CoD).

Also, by this time in the console cycle in the past the consoles were usually down to $149 or even $99. Perhaps if the current gen consoles dropped to that level we might see some sales revival, but I think the time for that was a year ago.

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Al Rhodes Web producer/designer

24 15 0.6
Hats off to Matt Handrahan for pointing out what most console gamers actually feel. I have never heard anyone get excited about the next tablet or smart phone game ever, and playing on a small screen is a compromise when you don't have access to a big screen. The only phone app game that kept my attention for more than a couple of days is Mafia Wars and that is a stats aggregator, not really a game.

I suspect I am one of the many who were were initially antagonistic to but slowly warming to cloud gaming...if the lack of hardcopy manufacture and distribution was reflected in the price. Also F2P games have already persuaded me to move from xbox to ps3 so much so that I have barely turned on my xbox in 4 months. It should be a given that F2P games should be already established on all current consoles before the next iteration.

But if there was one thing that would top my wish list in the future, it would be convergence. In the sense that gamers want to play multiplayer online games with their friends, regardless of what platform they or their friends happen to be on. One thing we can be sure of by the next cycle is that there will be more platforms than ever before.

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Brian Smith Artist

196 85 0.4
From a consumer point of view my personal opinion is that it's good to see the next gen held back a bit. Unlike when the xbox was superceded, we're getting to see the current gen stretched and real gems often appear late in a systems life. Developers have become comfortable developing for these sytems and we get to see them push the boundaries one last time before the next gen systems touch down.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Steve Peterson.
You speak very much sense.

Also there is a massive new disruptor with the arrival of the 7 inch tablet in its developed form. The Nexus 7 costs just $200 and has vastly more user utility than a Vita or a DS and the games are a tiny fraction of the price. This sort of tablet is on the way from Sony, Apple, Nokia etc etc. These devices have far more screen acreage than smartphones yet they are still extremely portable, for instance fitting in the side pocket of combat trousers.

They aren't just a huge blow to the portable consoles, they are also a blow to the living room consoles, because they are excellent for consuming content whilst sitting on the settee watching TV. These 7 inch tablets will catch up with the lifetime sales of the current generation consoles very quickly. And they will be used far more for gaming than smartphones are.

So yet another huge competitor for the gaming dollar.

The console platform holders have definitely waited too long this generation before transitioning and they will pay for this.

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
@Robin
The good news is there's room for both kinds of experience and the demand for them, or platforms capable of supporting them, are not going anywhere.
Yarp.

Posted:2 years ago

#40

James Wells Gaming Contributor - digboston.com

72 32 0.4
It was interesting to see how many of the GI staffers really thought this console cycle was "dragging on too long." I actually agree whole-heartedly with James and Matt Handrahan: the game devs & publishers are definitely shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to offer new IP without a new console. Nobody's forcing them to keep rehashing stale properties; and in all honesty if more developers were like Naughty Dog & not afraid to try something new (even if it is seated on an established series' engine), everybody would benefit. Consumers have compelling product, developers don't have to re-learn their jobs, and console makers would feel less pressure to "get the next box out the door yesterday."

Posted:2 years ago

#41

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