Daily Reaction: Has The 10 Year Console Lifecycle Hurt The Games Industry?

Daily Reaction is a PSLS exclusive feature where Sebastian Moss & Dan Oravasaari discuss today’s most hard-hitting topics every single weekday.

When Sony was announcing the PS3, they had pushed the concept of a “10 year lifecycle” to the industry. The effects of having such a gap between consoles, while it may not be 10 years without an overlap, have yet to be fully understood. Has this generation gone on just long enough? Or are you already ready to invest in your next state-of-the-art home entertainment center?

Dan: Having bought my first PS3 when it was launched in 2006, I have been on this generation for 6 years, that is longer than any generation before it. So, I for one am absolutely ready for the next evolution of consoles, this generation has just become stagnant as we push every drop of power from this aging consoles. If we look at the PC market, we as console gamers have not only been passed up on technology, we are starting to stop graphical advancements. As developers cannot produce higher end productions to push the new video cards in production for PC’s, there has been little need to create GPU’s that push systems to the limit. Now we are finally seeing games like Crysis 3, which look fantastic, but are also being created for a market already covered in dust.

Besides the advancements in visuals, there have been a number of technical pushes for differing types of inputs on all consoles, as Sony has their Move and Vita, Microsoft has their Kinect, and the Wii has its balance board. We have seen Nintendo take steps to incorporate this new layer of input into their newest console the Wii U, by creating it around their Wii U Gamepad. If only Sony and Microsoft would take note of this, and finally show off their next systems, we could finally start the next cycle of gaming. Now is the time for all manufacturers to culminate all of their technical advancements into the next generation, allowing not only the market to move forward, but to revitalize the industry as a whole.

Seb: I’ve got to disagree. You have to be realistic, the whole point of consoles is that they don’t change very often. Unlike with PCs, you don’t need to keep upgrading to play the latest games. The second the PS4 releases it’ll be outdated, there’ll be a part of me that’ll be thinking “if only I could buy a PS5 with 3x the RAM and and UV-ray drive”. But you can’t keep wanting that, otherwise it defeats the whole point of consoles.

We need a new generation once this one has peaked. It hasn’t. The PS3 started off costing $599 so it had hardly any followers, and only in the past few years has it really started gaining traction. Plus, with the likely ultra-slim PS3 and price cut, it’s sure to gain a larger audience. Wonderbook and Until Dawn show Sony is finally targeting the casual market, something they do in the final years of a console’s life to give themselves and developers an extra revenue source.

And speaking of developers, due to the ridiculously difficult architecture of the PS3, the console still has untapped potential. Games this year look better than last year, they try more, they do more. There is life in this gen, and PS3 owners (and even 360 ones) can be happy that their investment is being rewarded with years of quality gaming.

If you think this gen is over, I have four words for you: The Last of Us.

Dan: I do agree with you on the fact that the PC market has a tendency to be a pricey hobby, as the need to upgrade a part of your rig can happen over night – with games pushing the limits on every release. Yet, this current generation is starting to wear down its welcome. Even though we are probably going to see a new super slimmed down model soon, it does not mean that we won’t have a new system being pushed out in the near future. As the PS2 launched around the time the PSOne launched, with its super small rounded system. So when the PS3 launches its next iteration of production, it could just follow the same strategy, and reduce production costs of the current system, so that they can develop it at a low cost in new regions around the globe.

As for the power of the PS3 and 360 not being fully met, it is true that there is power we are now seeing that we could never imagined when they first launched. Yet, the issue has come from multiplatform releases, that cannot specialize in development of a single console to push them to the extremes we are seeing from first party developers. So games like The Last of Us, and Beyond: Two Souls, are doing things that just are not possible for multiplatform developers. At least until all consoles are able to easily achieve such high level of fidelity, we are stuck with being limited on other sides of production. Much like the end of the lifecycle of the PS2 pretty much ended with God of War 2, a game that had pushed the system to its capacity and became an endcap to its generation, we are going to see Naughty Dog’s title become the end of this current generation.

Seb: Sure, first party games are always going to be leaps and bounds ahead of multiplats, but I think you’re unfairly criticizing all multiplatform games. Look at Assassin’s Creed 3 – that’s a huge step above AC1, it’s a much more vibrant, alive world. And have you seen the latest screens for GTA V? They are gorgeous.

And yeah, 10 years is obviously too long for a full console cycle, but we all know that’s not what they mean. They’re going to release the PS4 and then also support the PS3 with Wonderbook books for a few more years.

They’ll probably be released near the end of 2013, although I wouldn’t mind if it came a bit later – and honestly, I don’t think Sony would either. They have to bring their next gen out soon because they either want to be before MS, or soon after, they can’t afford to give them a huge headstart again. But really, if you look at the billions upon billions Sony has invested and lost in the PS3, they could do with a few years to recoup some of the money. You want the PS4 to be awesome? Then hope to hell that Sony can turn the PS3 business around (sadly their gaming sector still lost money last quarter), so that they have a reason to invest heavily in the next gen.

It’s going to be a tough launch for Sony, they have never been weaker, never faced such tough and varied foes. But if they bring out a strong console, and keep pumping out first party games (no more closures please) I know they’ll get mine, and any self respecting gamer’s, purchase.

As rumors for new consoles round the horizon, are we ready to drop another stack of cash for the latest and greatest hardware? Or are we getting enough return on the current generation to forgo the need for higher end specs? Let us know in the comments below what you think, and if you are going to be a day one adopter for the next generation, and as always feel free to rub our twitters at Seb and Dan.