In the gaming industry, there is always an inevitable pattern that most gamers are aware of. Next-gen console cycles. These cycles proceed in a normal fashion, every five years a new console will be up for, not exactly ready for, release to the public. The onset of said cycle normally fills most gamers with hopes and high expectations for what we’d call the “Future of Gaming”.
What exactly does that mean, you may ask?
It means broadly looking forward into the future, trumping current console specs and capabilities.
For Microsoft, the bump was in higher graphics, slimmer controllers, as the old ones felt like bricks corded to the console, better performance, and gamer friendly dashboard with a social online network service (Xbox Live).
Sony proceeded to trump the PS2, as well as the Xbox 360 in some ways, with a very intense graphical chip boast, Blu-Ray player, an online service that is coincidentally free to use (PSN), and some amazing AAA titles as exclusives.
Nintendo trumped Gamecube with innovative motion controls and GameCube game backwards compatibility. You wonder why there are so little on the list for Nintendo, that is merely because Nintendo moves forward at a cautious pace, some call cowardly, others call genius.
At the end of each cycle, however, a line begins to be seen in the sand, by the companies previous incarnation of console brilliance. The developers then begin to see beyond the line in such ways they can improve in which they couldn’t, or wouldn’t *Cough* Nintendo *Cough*, do before.
With the cycle of our current gen consoles surpassing normal lengths, we, or at least I do, find myself pondering on what the Three Titans will do next. There is hope that we see grand innovation to feed our creative centers and to amaze and wow us.
Wii U stands at the ready with the most open source of information on their improvements. Check out the console specs yourself from these sources:
Nintendo has always been the creative forerunner of the three, giving us motion controls, openly creative gaming license, and constantly sitting at the childish graphics that have had since what feels like the GameCube. Why must I rip on the graphics when so many others have?
Because, when technology has come so far, you come to expect more life-like, HD quality.
With the announcement of the Wii U, the innovation continues. With a game pad that looked like an enlarged DS with a single screen, I believe we used to call those Gameboys, that not only functions as a controller but as an inventory screen for games that allows you to access your items without pause. It also acts as the main game screen for the Wii U, if the connected TV is unavailable. This adds some creativity to the mix, giving it more of an immersive feel to the gameplay, as pause menus could, in all likelihood, be done away with, at least for inventory sake.
Nintendo also announced, to a surprised audience, that they began allowing 3rd party developers, such as Bioware, EA, Activision, etc., to develop games for their next console, showing Nintendo isn’t shy about stepping out of the comfort zone any longer.
While I have saved the best for last, Nintendo also announced… wait for it…*drum roll* improved graphics! About time, we shout in harmony with one another as the announcement rang through the hall. They have been confirmed to be HD quality, but as that is a somewhat vague definition, we can not be too sure how improved the quality truly is.
Overall, the WiiU seems promising to say the least. They have also added in more of a social network idea, away from the Friend code environment and throwing your Miis in the mix they began to show at E3 an interaction between Miis, even within certain games you can communicate with them on difficult situations.
It’s an exciting idea, to say the least, stepping out of their comfort zone somewhat, but is it a step too late for them?
The massive opinion is not one-sided, there are many views on how this step was long overdue, but some speculate that it might be too late for Wii to make any kind of tremendous splash in the Console Race. Their position is rather unstable at the moment, but things could become more solid, given particular rumors prove true.
As with many rumors, they are just that, rumors. Yet there is always a grain of truth to those rumors. The rumor mill currently has been a buzz on the idea of “anti-used game technology”, and the fact that Sony and Microsoft are considering using them on the next wave of consoles.
The Durango (Microsoft) and PS4 (Sony), have been reported to be sitting on the idea of this tech, in their own way trying to prevent piracy. The community stands against the notion, as well as business leaders have been pointing to this being a financial disaster. Is it enough for us to truly fear these rumors?
Possibly, as I can recall, back in 2005, Sony had filed for a patent regarding this kind of technology to prevent used games from being played upon it. It stands to reason that if they once considered it before, the idea of them filing another patent would indicate that Sony might just be the one to pull it off. Now, Microsoft has not filed any patents for such tech themselves, but they have openly considered the idea
Will this affect our buying decisions?
Of course it will! If we can’t play used games, as most gamers I know like purchasing used games. then what would be the point in shelling out what is expected to be a $500-600 purchase and only be able to buy new games?
I imagine most gamers would refuse to purchase it until they remove the technology, and while they wait, they’d continue to play on the older consoles, buying games for the older generation, or as I mentioned before, step up to purchase the Wii U. I can’t honestly see myself purchasing the Durango if it blocked used games. The scenario itself is almost impossible to do, as even if I had one, I do enjoy new games over used, but there will always be one game in which there will be no New copies available and only used. Am I to assume I am SOL, and never get to play said game?
I would be horribly disappointed, yet Microsoft and Sony could take it a step further. Buying rights to used games. You heard right, someone sells their game to say GameStop, you then buy it and get home, put it in the console and the system makes you purchase the use of the game from the former owner. Skylanders, seen below, does such with their figures and the owners collections. Yet, this still feels like a grab for cash, when we’ve spent the money on the console, accessories, DLC, and the game, now we would be trading rights back and forth. As it sits now, it’s upsetting for most gamers to even consider blocking used games, in any form.
Now, no new information for the Durango or the PS4 have been openly discussed, except speculation and fictitious and rumored code names, but from what little we have been hearing, it is expected to be impressive. Durango developer kits have been seen online, as one had been leaked and then the owner proceeded to leak screenshots, specs, and even programs, from what it sounds like Kinect for the Durango, to the public. For the most part, we are left only to speculate what may come.
What do you guys think about the Next-Gen cycle? Are you excited or afraid of constricting software?
Do you have high hopes?
I know for myself, I am full of mixed emotions, but as more news comes to light, I’m sure I’ll have much more of an opinion than the next guy.