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There Is No Rush for a New Xbox Or PS4

Gordon Kelly by

There Is No Rush for a New Xbox Or PS4

An interesting news story emerged this week that received little attention: next generation PS4 and Xbox One consoles may not arrive until 2014. There was no backlash, no angry complaints, no rushed company statements. Yes tech doesn't always have to evolve at the speed of light to stay relevant…

The news story came from gaming website Kotaku. "Both MS and Sony are telegraphing to each other that they're delaying, to milk the current [generation] and fill in previous craters better," said Kotaku's source. This was backed up by 'other sources with access to first-party companies' who also disclosed 2014 to be the target date, though some believe it could be late 2013 "if their company feels pushed".

Taken at face value this news could annoy. Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in 2005, a year when 'Million Dollar Baby' won best picture at the Oscars (It should have been 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'), the PSP had just hit the market, Windows Mobile 5 was the cutting edge smartphone platform of choice and the Guitar Hero franchise was unleashed upon the world. Sony launched the PS3 in 2006 when 'Crash' took the Oscar nod, Facebook launched outside the college community and everyone thought this was an iPhone.

Since then both consoles have sold over 50m units and the technology sector has changed radically. So why do Microsoft and Sony think they can get away with still selling the same old hardware? In short: because they can.

Consoles are virtually alone in giving the technology sector the one thing it craves: consistency. In an industry where gadgets are outdated within months of hitting the market, buying a games console guarantees years of relevance. It provides peace of mind.

Equally important is it gives games developers' discipline. Hardware is locked down so code has to be rigorously optimised. There's no option to tell console owners to buy a better graphics card or increase their RAM. Consequently even now the limits of both the PS3 and Xbox keep being stretched and tech demos like the one above still blow the mind.

Likewise all this hard effort is rewarded. Every games console is eventually hacked, but the proportion of pirated games is so low it is dragging developers from the more powerful - seemingly premium - PC market and relegating it to something of an also ran.

Furthermore while it is true Microsoft and Sony haven't improved the power of either machine in six years (they can't, that is the point), they have continuously evolved them. Both have had redesigns that shrunk their dimensions and made them run cooler and quieter and these changes came combined with price cuts. This is no mean feat considering consoles take years before they reach profitability. The PS3 initially lost Sony $307 per unit.

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April 25, 2011, 1:10 am

This early move from nintendo could work out very well for them.
By the time sony & microsoft come with their next consoles nintendo already has a big market share with their new console.
So within time sony and microsoft wil lag behind, in market share, the amount of next gen. games, and console graphics/speed.
If you look at it from the other side, sony and microsoft are doing what nintendo did.


April 25, 2011, 4:37 am

I like the fact that consoles aren't updating anytime soon - I bought my PS3 nearly 3 years ago now and the graphics are fine. What really needs to be done is strong innovation and making games that push the boundaries of what we can think of rather than how many pixels we can manipulate on the screen. Think of what games like Portal 2, Demon's Souls, The Last Guardian and Metal Gear Rising bring to the front - its not the graphics (even though they do look pretty amazing) that make them so awe-inspiring. Its the principle that you can do something different and get involved in something that is interesting and exceptional.
The PC is still the hardware king but I don't want to shell out the price of a console just for a graphics card.


April 25, 2011, 11:27 pm

I'm not in any sort of rush to replace my 360 and PS3. I think the biggest difference with this generation is that we've reached a point (IMHO) where graphics are now more than good enough. Most games look fantastic to me and that removes the biggest reason to upgrade.

The fact that firmware is also now upgradeable means that the consoles can still develop through software. Something that wasn't possible before this generation.

The problem with the Wii is that it was so underpowered at launch that it now just looks pathetic and desperately needs to be replaced.

Geoff Richards

April 27, 2011, 5:49 pm

I want more power! I hate the fact that many Xbox 360 games don't even run at full 720p let alone 1080p.

Need For Speed Unleashed lacks the pin-sharpness of most PC games, due to lower resolution and lack of decent AA.

It's been reported elsewhere that the current consoles are actually HOLDING BACK PC games - games like Portal 2 are now console-first and retro-converted for PC, and often render to the lowest common denominator instead of unleashing the full power of your gaming PC.

So do I want to wait another THREE YEARS? No thank you!

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