So the other day we told you guys about the rumors that are getting louder and louder that both Microsoft and Sony will unveil their next generation gaming consoles at this year’s E3. As a gaming guy and tech guy, I appreciate the fact that both companies are continuing to innovate but the truth is that I don’t think that consumers are screaming, demanding, or want new consoles right now. If they release these new consoles too soon, I think it could actually hurt the gaming industry rather than help it.
The biggest reason that most folks say we need new consoles is because developers have maxed out what they can do on the current generation consoles and need new tech to push the medium forward. That may have some merit for a small percentage of the industry, but that is nowhere near the situation for the majority of developers. The truth is that the majority of developers have tons of room to grow (at least on the PS3) and don’t attribute limitations in the console to holding them back in terms of what they can do. A lot of your favorite games including Madden, NBA 2K, and even Call Of Duty come nowhere near “maxing” out the current generation of consoles. As far as the games that do, like perhaps Uncharted, Elder Scrolls, and the Halo franchise just to name a few, they could probably squeeze one more epic game out on this gen of hardware if they really had to. In fact, with a game like Elder Scrolls their development cycle is such that it would fall nicely into reasonable timing for the next generation of consoles.
For the industry, the ROI just isn’t there and I see no reason to introduce new consoles before mid to late 2013 at the earliest. As much as I would love a new shiny toy to play with, the value just isn’t there right now. It isn’t like the last time we were having this conversation where there was all this new tech that was waiting to take gaming to a new level. This time around, the biggest leap would probably be on the graphics front and I don’t think it would be mind blowing. We would more than likely get some faster processors and disk drives but I just can’t see it being worth the cost. For it to make sense to companies to put out new consoles, they have to feel like they can make their money back and that means that these consoles will be priced around $499 to start, that is $200 more than what you would pay for one of the current generation consoles. The economy, while improving is not in the best shape with folks having a lot less disposable income so that has to be taken into account. And then don’t get me started on the availability of games for the new consoles (it took a minute to get a solid collection of PS3 and 360 games), I mean developers would be caught in the middle in terms of what system they develop for and that might cause a drop in overall game quality.
As I said, I appreciate Sony and Microsoft continuing to try to push the envelope, but I think they may be ignoring the biggest question of all. Do consumers really want new consoles or do they just want updates to the existing consoles (can PSN get a facelift)? You know how we feel, now we want you to tell us how you feel. What do you think, do you want a new generation of consoles right now or would you prefer updates to the existing generation? Let us know in the comments.