What Next Generation Consoles Won’t Have
Note: The following is entirely speculation and educated guesses.
There have been a lot of rumors and information leaks about the next generation of consoles on the horizon in lieu of official announcements. Without Microsoft or Sony to confirm or deny any info that appears in these uncertain times, anticipation is growing and the stories coming out are getting wilder and wilder. I don’t generally make predictions on upcoming console features, but I am willing to try to debunk some of the more outrageous rumors that have been tossed out.
I think that, especially in Sony’s case, people have come to expect that new consoles mean new, higher resolution forms of media playback. The PlayStation popularized CD based games, the PS2 did the same for DVD, and the PS3 won the format war for Blu-ray. 4K is the newest thing on the block and is supposed to run at four times the current resolution. The next PlayStation and Xbox aren’t going to feature 4K. Why not? Well, for starters, Sony is gearing up to release a 4K player. Guess how much it costs. Guess. It is going to cost around $25,000. I fully expect that next-gen consoles are going to be expensive, but I think $25,000 is a bit too steep a price point for them to sell very well or to expect that console manufacturers will absorb the financial losses of selling below that price. It is much more reasonable to assume that next-gen consoles will be running on Blu-ray. They’ll still play fantastic looking games; they just won’t cost you your kidney.
Shoddy Backwards Compatibility
One of the major missteps following the launch of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was the half-hearted attempts to implement backwards compatibility. The 360 received some updates that made some original Xbox games playable, but those updates soon stopped. The PS3 launched with backwards compatibility for PS1 and PS2 games, but later models of the PS3 lacked compatibility with the PS2’s library. While many games from previous generations have seen remakes or HD collection releases, I don’t think that we will see faulty backwards compatibility at next-gen launch. The next batch of consoles will either be completely backwards compatible with this generation’s library of games, which will cost more for Sony and Microsoft to implement, but will ease the transition into the next gen, or eschew that functionality altogether to reduce the cost of developing a new console.
An Always Online Requirement
It feels like people have been discussing an always online console since before the current generation of consoles was announced. Unsurprisingly, the reason this will not happen remains as true now as it did at the beginning of this generation: Not everyone has access to online services all the time. That fact alone means that Sony and Microsoft won’t implement an always online console. It would limit their market reach and send consumers into the arms of their competitors. Instead, what we can probably expect is to see a heavier emphasis on downloadable titles and online services on consoles. Perhaps in the next-gen we will see more attention given to downloadable release dates and indie game development.
Used Game Restrictions
While it is true that patents have been filed on technology that would restrict used game sales, remember that a patent does not equal a physical reality. It is also true that publishers lose money on used game sales, but numerous methods have been implemented to increase revenue in the form of downloadable content, microtransactions, etc. Microsoft and Sony are the ones controlling whether or not used game restrictions are put in place on their new consoles and, in my opinion, they have too much to lose by trying to eliminate used game sales. They need to maintain good relationships with retailers like GameStop, that profit from used game sales, in order to move their consoles and they don’t want to risk alienating a wide swath of their consumer base by outlawing cheap alternatives to expensive, full-price games.
Here is hoping that we get some more information about what is coming in the future during the Sony event on February 20!
What new technology or services do you think the new consoles will feature?