Right now we’re all enjoying what is the most exciting part of any console generation – we’ve got all the launch titles out of the way, and cross-generation games are slowly disappearing. So the next few years should be exciting and full of surprises, right? But what if there aren’t many years to come before we see a new set of consoles?
We all know how long the last one went on for. I managed to own all three of the consoles multiple times within its lifespan. Hundreds of great games and several iterations of consoles were released. The gaming landscape is vastly different this time around though, and an eight-year console cycle is not feasible for Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo.
PC Gaming is Driving the Industry
During last-gen, PC gaming was not the behemoth that it is today. PC gaming in 2007 made up a total 14% of overall sales in the industry (digital sales not included). The slump in sales was blamed on piracy, which was rampant on PC at the time. This led to developers debating if PC had a viable future as a gaming platform, so it was easy to see why developers were more enthusiastic about developing for consoles at the time, as it meant a higher return on investment. Fast forward to 2015 and it is an entirely different story. Last year the PC gaming industry was worth $21 billion, dominating consoles. In the space of eight years, we’ve had a vast paradigm shift in which PC Gaming is now the most profitable portion of the market for publishers and developers. How does this affect console gaming then?
Simple: developers and publishers are no longer looking at consoles as a sole release platform. Most major releases are getting PC iterations as well. Look at the difference between the PC version of GTA V and the next gen versions. Sure, PC users had to wait a little longer, but the PC release of Grand Theft Auto V is undoubtedly the best way to play the game. This is something that will continue to happen, especially as the PC industry is continually improving via community and industry-led innovation. This current PC boom is going to force Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to update their hardware over the next few years.
(I’m going to make this clear: I have no preference over a particular console. I own a PS4 and a Nintendo Wii U. I am merely stating facts that are readily obtainable all over the internet)
The Xbox One is underperforming compared to the PS4. Many of the multi-platform titles that are on both systems perform better on PS4. To begin with, I thought it might be because the developers hadn’t quite gotten to grips with developing games on the system yet. Two years after release, we still see the same gap in performance. Here are a few games and their resolution output between the two consoles:
- Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Xbox One 720p PS4 1080P
- Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – Xbox One 720p PS4 1080p
- Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor– Xbox One 720p PS4 1080P
- Metro: Redux– Xbox One 912p PS4 1080p
This is only a short selection of games and there are many more that could have been listed.
I don’t want you to think I dislike the Xbox One, because I don’t. I want every console to perform well; more competition leads to a better industry. As it stands, the Xbox One isn’t as powerful as the PS4. So this leaves Microsoft with one of two choices. Release an updated Xbox One with a better GPU, meaning more research, marketing and another launch. Alternatively they can wait and release a new console in a few years, ahead of Sony. This would give them the head start they had with the Xbox 360 ten years ago. They could just ignore both of these completely and continue with the Xbox One, but as developers become more accustomed to both consoles, the gap could get bigger.
The details are pretty scarce for the new Nintendo project, aptly named “NX”, so everything is speculation and hearsay at the moment. What we do know is that Nintendo needs to do something new to regain some market share.
The Wii U is an awesome console. I am currently playing Hyrule Warriors and it is lovely. While it may be a great console, its sales are far from great. It’s no secret that Nintendo has not had the follow-up success they had from the Wii. It may well be down to poor marketing, or that the Wii U is inferior compared to the PS4 and Xbox One. One thing for sure is that Nintendo needs to make a big change.
Originally, I wrote about how we don’t know what NX is going to be, and that it might be a new dedicated console. I then stumbled upon an interview with Metroid Prime Producer Kensuke Tanabe, from E3 that stated:
“If we started for Wii U now, it would likely take three years or so. So it would likely now be on Nintendo’s NX console,”
From what I can see, NX is now likely going to be Nintendo’s next dedicated home console. This is going to be big news for the industry and also big news for Microsoft and Sony.
These are just a few reasons why I believe we will see a new set of consoles much sooner than expected. With Nintendo likely to unveil their new hardware at next year’s E3, it won’t be much longer until Sony and Microsoft unveil theirs. Microsoft will most definitely be quicker to release this time, rather than getting caught up in a release window battle with Sony again.
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