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Are Mid-Generation Console Cycles A Good Idea?
Redbrick Gaming's Nicholas Burton discusses the potential and pitfalls of mid-generation console upgrades.
There is a brand-new console cycle that will be fully implemented by the end of 2017. This new console cycle is in kindred spirit to the life-cycles of our mobile phones and tablets. Never has this kind of cycle been seen in the gaming industry before, and now, just after the release of the PS4 Pro, we have a better idea of what impact this new mid-generation console cycle will bring for consumers, for developers, and for publishers. More importantly; are they a good idea?
Mid-generation console cycles have been created for the gamers that enjoys the latest and best gaming experiences. If there is a ‘better’ version of Uncharted 4 that players could get their hands on, if only for a reasonable upgrade cost, then these gamers will be the first to acquire such a version. This is ultimately what Sony and Microsoft have introduced through the PS4 Pro and the Scorpio. Better versions of games that already exist on the current generation. By ‘better version’ I mean games with better framerates, displaying at higher definition, as well as bigger draw distances amongst other numerous things. I think it’s obvious that giving the option of these new consoles is good for these types of gamers. The gamers that want access to the best gaming experience possible, and nobody should condemn them for this desire.
That said, if the development of current games in production falter or suffer because of the release of these new consoles, that makes these consoles a problem for all gamers. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see how the new console cycles won’t have a negative effect on the development of games for both Xbox One and the Scorpio, and PS4 and PS4 Pro. It’s likely the negative effect will occur because of the extra development these new versions of the game, and the pressure on developers to create/update their games to be playable on this new mid-generation cycle.
Another issue may come in the form of E3 presentations. When we see the next new exciting game being revealed during an E3 conference, will there be a disclaimer at the start saying ‘running on PS4 Pro’? If it is being played/shown on a PS4 Pro, what will the game look like on the PS4? How well will it run on the PS4? If it isn’t running on the Pro, and looks beautiful, how will this incentivise people to purchase the pro? These are the problems faced now during every major game conference of the year.
Sadly, it seems we can’t exist in a world where gamers who are enthusiastic about getting the latest specs can’t get the mid-console generations they want, without the rest of us suffering from the extra developmental pressure that comes with these new consoles. It also seems that we can’t escape the challenge presented to us of how these versions will be shown alongside current consoles at E3 and other such conferences. It’s unlikely the PS4 Pro sold significantly, but the real test for these new mid-console generations will be its sustainability long-term. The market is unlikely to jump on-board quickly with this new cycle, but I believe it has chance to be impactful in the long-term future.
That will be the real test as to whether the mid-console cycle is a good idea. If the market welcomes it, and the rest of gamers don’t have to purchase a new console every 3 years, and developers don’t suffer artistically, then perhaps this new cycle is a good idea. For now, it seems to be a forceful attempt to extract as much money from gamers as possible, while creating conference presentation issues, as well as make development harder for the makers of games. I do not think mid-generation consoles are a good idea, and probably won’t until these issues are resolved. I’m not expecting them to be anytime soon.