Gamers Want More Control In Their Next Gen Consoles, Not Less, I’m Talking To You PS4 (Orbis) and Xbox 720
So here’s the deal, over the last few months we have heard tons of rumors about the PS4 and it seems more rumors about the Xbox 720. We have heard about how the Xbox 720 might not have a disc drive and how both consoles may contain some type of anti-used game system. There has been tons of talk about how both consoles will be more powerful than their predecessors and have even better graphics. Personally, I think that is all fine and dandy but at this point I just don’t think its enough anymore. Those are the promises that every next generation console has made us and while they are nice to have I also think that they are a requirement, therefore I would like Sony and Microsoft to stop marketing them to us like they are something we should be happy about. The thing that worries me about all the rumors swirling around this next generation (and they are just rumors) is the overwhelming sentiment towards giving gamers less control over their game experience. The biggest knock on consoles from PC gamers has always been the lack of control over performance and in previous generations it was this way because the technology and processes didn’t allow it but with this next generation of systems it will only be that way because Sony and Microsoft make it that way.
At no other time in history has there been such opportunity for console makers to drastically change the structure of the industry for the better and possibly increase their revenues at the same time. I am not and have never been a serious PC gamer but I think that all console gamers are ultimately seeking the customization and freedom of PC gaming but within their chosen console experience and technology finally exist to make that happen. Whether or not the companies decide to do it or not is another question. Here are a few of the things that we think both the PlayStation 4 (PS4)(Orbis) or the Xbox 720 or whatever you want to call them need to have to start giving gamers the control they really want.
Note: The Wii U is not discussed as part of this article since it will be released this year which means there is more than likely not enough time to make any major hardware or design changes to the system. Both the Xbox 720 and PS4 (Orbis) are probably a year or more away and could actually make significant design changes.
Upgradable Hard Drives
Microsoft almost got it right with the Xbox 360 in the fact that it had a removable hard drive but they messed up when they made it proprietary. Sony didn’t give that option at all (at least they didn’t make it easy) and therefore I give them a fail. At this point in time though both consoles must have easily removable/upgradable hard drives. This means that you should not only be able to easily remove the existing hard drive, but you should also be able transfer your data over to the next hard drive in a standard way with relative ease. They should use industry standard drives and partner with hard drive manufactures to make branded drives. The regular drives should still work the same way the branded drives do, except the branded drives could come with free content and/or games or something like that (Microsoft does this already too). It would simplify things for both companies and create a completely new revenue stream for Sony. The concept that I need to buy a brand new console to get a bigger hard drive or that it should be this underground thing to know how to replace myself is old and dated and has to go.
I have to at least mean Solid State HD’s because they would definitely provide for the most optimal experience, however, the cost of the drives have still not come down to the point where I think its feasible to see them in this generation. Therefore, if we can’t get swappable HD’s I would settle for a minimum 250GB standard HD with some sort of other flash type memory possible used for local caching.
Standard Disc Drives
This one seems almost crazy to be saying but we have heard rumors that at least Microsoft was considering scrapping the disc drive. While I think that there will be a day that video game consoles don’t need disc drives, I don’t think that day is now. To adequately support a non-disc gaming console we need a vastly more developed high-speed internet infrastructure worldwide. Even with 81% the U.S still lags behind in overall broadband penetration ranking 36th worldwide. In terms of overall internet speed, the U.S. ranks worldwide 12th with speeds that are so far behind #1 South Korea it’s not even funny. In terms of total console sales the U.S. is only slightly ahead but in terms of game purchases the gap is substantially larger. I say all this to say that until the U.S. develops a more robust, faster, and reliable high-speed internet infrastructure having a download only type model for a console will not work. If the only way to get a game was to download it then we are talking about a massive drop in performance that would make the console gaming experience unbearable for some and that wouldn’t be good.
In the meantime though, I think both Microsoft and Sony should use the same type of disc drive. I doubt if Sony moves away from the Blu-Ray, so Microsoft needs to just concede this one and go Blu-Ray too. There is no need to create ANOTHER proprietary format, Blu-Ray and Sony won this round. While Blu-Ray usage didn’t overtake DVD with the speed that some predicted, most analyst agree that Blu-Ray should become the dominant format by the end of the year. The format provides more than enough storage for even the most epic of games and should further help to reduce the overall cost of the format with two major consoles using it as their format. While some people still don’t like Blu-Ray, I’m sure they would prefer it over some completely new format.
I suppose I have to note here that there are alternatives to both disc and the completely digital route. They could do something completely different like some kind of large SD card type solution, the cost are only slightly prohibitive and would provide extreme performance benefits. It could also help curve piracy while folks worked to crack it. At this point though, it’s another proprietary format and I just don’t see
The last time around I think Microsoft won this battle but the truth is that neither company knocked it out of the park. While I would love to see memory that was swappable and upgradable to a certain extent, again another opportunity for some brandable accessories if they like. If we can’t get that here I’m thinking both consoles need a minimum of 2GB of RAM but it would be nice if they had 4GB.
Upgradable Graphics Cards
You are probably starting to notice a theme here but that’s the point. When it comes to graphics the same rules apply. The rumored graphical specs of both consoles are an improvement over the previous generation to be sure but still lagging severely behind the PC world. Now I’m not suggesting that consoles could keep up with PC’s because they can’t but perhaps they could do more than deliver a graphics card that will already be seriously obsolete (anything would be obsolete, we just want less obsolete) by the time the consoles actually release. If they couldn’t make the graphics card completely swappable which I could understand, perhaps they could at least have 3 or so models with different level cards in them. Of all of the options so far this one is probably the least likely to happen but we can always hope right?
At this point its impossible to know what Microsoft and Sony will actually do with their next generation consoles but I truly hope that they actually try to innovate and stop trying to pass off upgrading specs as doing so. Ultimately, console gamers want the flexibility of PC gaming with the ease and simplicity of a console. Now you know what we think, tell us what you think. Did we miss something, hit up the comments and let us know what you think the next generation consoles must have.
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