Being a fan boy of many things pop culture, I rarely like to rant when it comes to pro/con and love/hate discussions from Micheal Bay’s Transformers movies; race or gender switching of characters in reboots of beloved franchises; the controversy of the upcoming female Ghostbusters; ect., etc., etc. I am a firm believer in the “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” philosophy. That said, I am compelled to speak up for what I am sure has the gaming community and even the industry divided. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. All I know is what my gut tells me, and that is an urge to tell Sony and Microsoft that they can take their Virtual Reality platforms, their PlayStation 4.5 “Neo” and Xbox “Scorpion” and shove it up their… perhaps I should stop there.
Join me now as I dive into my inner gaming soul of why I think this is bad for not only gamers, but the gaming industry as well and be sure to share your thoughts and let us know what you think.
Has that day finally come? Am I that old man sitting in a rocking chair wearing a rope belt while eating corn right out the can as I lecture the neighborhood kids about the good old days of gaming during a Wheel Of Fortune commercial break? A time when you opened a brand new launch console for the holidays and you had the buyer confidence and peace of mind that this was going to be your “baby” sitting proudly in the living room as you enjoyed game after game for the next half decade? What is going on with these mid generation consoles? Is this really happening? Am I in the Matrix? If I see everyone dressed in tight black leather pants and dark trench coats with Terminator sunglasses on at this years E3–then I am going to demand a refund on whatever blue pill was slipped into my free pizza at my weekly GameStop midnight preorder party.
I don’t want to sound like a closed-minded person here. I am sure some who just bought a 4K TV and haven’t purchased a current gen console might just be excited as an old man getting his lunch on free senior sandwich day at the local AARP member cafeteria. Let’s say I don’t have a PS4 or Xbox One and I decide that I want to finally jump into the “next-gen” with either the “Neo” or “Scorpion” system. So I go to my local game shop and drop $400-$600 dollars on the console, grab a couple of games, take it home, spend a few hours setting it up in my entertainment center, join the online premium service for another $50, and wait a couple of hours to install my first game. So now what? Congratulations. You just spent hundreds of dollars to enjoy the current gen for the next two years before we get a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two reveal. You literally just bought yourself a two-year window of cutting edge games before the “next-gen” arrives again. How is that a smart investment?
Sony and Microsoft have said in regards to their “Neo” and “Scorpion” mid gen consoles that they are adapting to the smart phones annual update business template. A future game industry where we will have the option to “upgrade” our consoles every two to three years in each console generation. My issue with that, when we spend up to $600 for a launch console, we aren’t signing a contract that gives us real upgrade discounts on an updated/upgraded console down the road. They are essentially saying, “Hey buddy, I know you have only had your $600 Xbox One for a little over 2 1/2 years, but here’s a better version of that console for another $400-$600 dollars. Trust us, it will make your current investment look like Gandalf just turned your new BMW into a yellow Geo Metro you’ll LOVE it”.
Seems that gamers aren’t the only ones with concerns as well. BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk, recently took the time with Gamespot and shared his thoughts as well on the process developers would have to face with dealing with multiple consoles in the same generation.
“I’d say that’d be a gigantic pain in the ass that flies in the face of the purpose of consoles.”
“”The whole purpose of consoles is the set of requirements that you work against from a hardware perspective,” he said. “To change that is complete lunacy.”
What is the rush here? All that new spec technology should just be saved and put into the next cycle console generation. What could very well happen, would be that consumers are going to lose confidence in purchasing a new launch console. After all, why should we if there is just going to be a more superior version just a couple of short years down the road. Do the suits truly think this will help the gaming industry economy when there is zero “next-gen” excitement? What happens when those long day one launch lines turn into a quick-lunch rush hour at McDonald’s? Take a Zelda or Grant Theft Auto title for example. What makes gamers so excited and makes those franchises top sellers are that we literally have to wait five years for a new entry. There is desire. There is excitement. With an upgraded console every two and a half years hitting the market, common words associated with a console launch such as “desire” and “excitement” for many–will fly out the window.
Granted, both Sony and Microsoft have stated that these new mid gen consoles won’t have any game exclusives, so no harm no foul, right? Well I can’t speak for anyone else, but I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars for my PlayStation 4 at launch so my copy of “Game X Sequel” would look like an inferior/dated used sweater from your neighbors garage sale on back to school shopping week. I spent hundreds of dollars so I could play the best cutting edge games for the next five years of the console generation. What about you?
Are the days of buyer confidence of purchasing a N64 and enjoying it for five plus years before the Gamecube came, or buying a launch PS2 and enjoying it for five years before you preorder your PS3, all but extinct? This is what makes a console generation a console GENERATION. Of course, the last gen consoles do continue to get mild support as they are faded into the background. Which is fine, but given the choice, I don’t think many would prefer to say, play Titanfall on the 360 instead of the Xbox One, or how about Call Of Duty Black Ops 3? Last gen’s Call Of Duty didn’t even give gamers a campaign mode due to the dated hardware.
As for the “future of gaming” with the Virtual Reality movement? Listen, you can buy with your money whatever you want but keep this in mind. Every console generation has had a gimmick. Remember “virtual reality” for the Atari? How about the Nintendo Power Glove? Too far back you say? Technology is different now you say? Ok, how about just a few short years ago when “3D Gaming” was all the rage on the last gen. hardware? That lasted for what? Two…three minutes max? My point is, Virtual Reality might truly be something amazing in the next true console generation,but as for the present? I personally am not sold on the technology just yet. The Oculus Rift will cost an average of a thousand dollars and while it is cool to be in a “virtual reality”, many test gamers have reported complaints that range from having a wired headset causing a distraction and annoyance, light creeping in the headset itself, and the actual games being a bit glitchy and pixellated. That is a lot of money to spend just to be on the ground floor of the VR movement. Reminds me of when I bought the early digital movie players with those huge record album size movies that had a very brief life with a huge price tag that was put on the extinct list once DVD’s came around. Now even though Sony’s PlayStation VR comes with a cheaper $399 price tag, don’t forget that if you want a smoother experience, you will definitely need to upgrade to their Neo console, which will be another $399 out of your pocket.
I have no plans to be that guy wearing a RoboCop helmet that cramps my neck after an hour while sitting on the couch in front of family on Thanksgiving playing a game that is essentially a first person shooter while I swing my arms in the air playing launch VR gimmick games. No thanks. I’ll stick with my comfy controller in hand and just enjoy my HD TV and wait for the PS5 to come around. Odds are by that time, the VR movement will have some solid legs behind it with a deeper library, better technology and a more affordable price point. Remember when Blu-ray players cost a thousand dollars when they first entered the market? I am in ho hurry here, I will be patient and wait as I enjoy my current gen consoles and the awesome games they currently offer.
Perhaps I do sound like that old man. As I prepare my early bird supper and get ready for the days main event on nightly news, I will go to sleep confident that I will ride out the PS4 and Xbox One for a true console generation and after five plus years. I will upgrade to a true new console with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two. Now If you will excuse me, my bingo club starts in an hour.