I don’t think anyone would disagree that the heated arguments over which gaming system of the upcoming next generation will “win” the never ending “console war” have been more brutal this year than ever before in the history of the industry. Corporate controversies and rampant fanboyism have severely muddied the waters, but it is still exciting – and at times a bit melancholy – to finally get a clearer glimpse of what the future will hold.
Clear glimpses, however, do not always make for clear cut decisions, especially when faced with spending several hundred dollars (or pounds, or Euros, etc.) in a precariously unsettled global economy. I expect that sales of Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One will be gradual, picking up only as more games become available and the new the services and technology have been proven. For me, the decision has already been made; I bought my Wii U at launch, and, while it has admittedly been hard to enjoy with so few timely releases, it will most likely remain my primary system for the foreseeable future. The rest of the Think-Entertainment staff, however, are of different minds. Though thankfully none of them need to be fired. Yet.
by Tom T
Microsoft seem to see the consumer base as something to be molded, manipulated, and controlled. As an example of how stubbornly ingrained this attitude is, the recently fired Creative Director Adam Orth (always online deal with it guy) intends to talk at the upcoming Game Developer Conference on “The Poisonous Power of Community.” There is no feeling of responsibility – and no respect for the consumer.
Sony have had a more difficult time with consumers, especially following the infamous hacking scandal in 2011. They have since focused on maximizing appeal and refrained from charging for online throughout PlayStation 3’s life span. They give the impression of respecting the consumer, and, through sustained effort, have secured their trust. Their cheeky condemnation of Microsoft was also a wonder to behold.
The positive is that both giants are now actively wrestling for consumer interest, which is how it should be. They should be doing their damnedest to incentivise purchase of their products, not seeing what degree of underhanded business tactics they can get away with. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Sony beats them on price as well as popularity. Part of the reason for this is the inclusion of a motion sensitive camera, Kinect, with every Xbox One. Microsoft are firm on keeping Kinect, but the lack of innovative Kinect news (beyond “Xbox, watch television. Xbox, WATCH… TELEVISION!”), and it being portrayed as something to prance around in front of naked, hardly endears the consumer. Microsoft are bleeding, perhaps fatally.
Wii U flew under the radar at E3 by opting for a Nintendo Direct broadcast, rather than a conference. Again though, Nintendo have my trust. They have always been big innovators. As a person fed up with the blockbuster/Hollywood approach to video gaming, and the emphasis on mindless multiplayer, I can see myself opting for a Wii U before the other consoles. The console just needs some games. ‘Secretly’ (read: slowly, with many delays) Nintendo have been building up pressure, set to be unleashed soon. Editor’s Note: Microsoft’s outrageous insistence on delaying the release of Rayman Legends, meant to be a Wii U exclusive launch title, so that the Xbox 360 could claim to have it first did not do anyone any favors.
Next-gen, Nintendo will be my first priority, with a possible later purchase of the PS4, as Nintendo tend to be poor at covering 3rd party games. I have no interest in Microsoft; their attitude is neither trustworthy, nor innovative.
The next gen debate is getting a bit out of hand, in my opinion. The company loyalties run pretty deep for most of us, myself included. Although I have consistently had, and enjoyed, PlayStation systems, I don’t let that blind me to the fact that, after some reform, the Xbox One is now a real option.
That said, I still think I will pick the PlayStation 4; exclusives like Final Fantasy XIV are too appealing, and my experiences with Xbox Live and PlayStation Network incline me towards the latter. This might seem petty, as the hardware does not greatly differ; however, what does differ is that Sony have proven themselves to be more flexible. Final Fantasy XIV would have featured on the Xbox One, had Microsoft been willing to have cross-console compatibility (players on the PS3, PS4, and PC will all be able to play together). Microsoft refused, and asked for dedicated Xbox servers. Online gaming is extremely important to me, and I want the best experience possible. So for me, the debate had one clear choice: the PlayStation 4.
by Aaron Tuazon
Over recent months, I have seen a number of people talking about how the next generation of consoles isn’t really “next gen,” and I have a question: why? Yes, there’s nothing revolutionary about more processing power or better graphics, but do we really need a revolution every time a new generation is upon us?
When Microsoft back pedalled on its Xbox One plans, a number of people expressed their concern that business decisions had shifted from Microsoft to the consumer. That the regular joe had effectively stagnated innovation in gaming and that, in encouraging Microsoft to shift away from their original direction for the Xbox One, we had created a “next generation” of consoles that doesn’t really look fresh, exciting or new. “More of the same, with better graphics,” is what some people think of the Xbox One and the PS4. My response: so what?
Personally, I’m happy that there isn’t much of a difference between the current generation and the next generation of consoles. For the foreseeable future, I’ll continue to reinforce my position that an online connection shouldn’t be a mandatory requirement to play video games and that physical media shouldn’t be bound by digital checks. I don’t care if this means I can’t play my games from any console, anywhere in the world, or that I can’t access my American friends’ game libraries and play their games on my console in Australia. I’m perfectly happy for my games to just look and run better and play them on essentially the same controllers. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time a new console is released; there just needs to be improvement. And aren’t better visuals and more immersive environments improvement enough?
The next generation of consoles can only be a positive step. Although visual fidelity in games can never stand in for good gameplay or good stories, it can only help. I expect to see more exotic, stunning worlds, more believable, sympathetic characters and more profoundly, instinctively relatable situations. Realism and wonder are hooks that help pull players into fake worlds, and I hope developers find creative ways to take advantage of this immersion.
As for the consoles themselves, I have no bias. Scandals and controversy aside, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are currently similar enough in features and price to be able to directly compete with each other. Although positive press tempts me to lean toward supporting one company in particular (I think you may know which one), I know that the best option is to wait for releases to accumulate on both systems.
These releases may be the most exciting part of the next generation. The press conferences at E3 2013 made it seem like the games industry is thriving. Dozens of new IPs, impressive updates to existing franchises, stunning visuals, and creative ideas all combined to paint a hopeful, exciting future for games. This future is my ideal for the next generation – a solid step towards higher quality games with greater integrity.
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