Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
As we inch ever closer to the next generation of home gaming consoles you cant help but to wonder if the next generation is coming a bit too late. The Wii U has kicked off the next generation and it’s had mixed results thus far, a lot of people are speculating that this elongated generation, combined with the emergence of tablet and phone gaming has really cut into the once vibrant and thriving home console gaming market.
Please keep in mind that I am certainly not insinuating that console gaming is dying, I think the industry is too big to completely go away. I do think that this has been a strange generation because of length and because of the fact that it’s had so many ups and downs. Some people have been lured into this generation simply because its gone on for so long, there hasn’t been any confirmations on new consoles from Microsoft or Sony, what that means is that people feel like they wont have to go right out and buy a new console if they buy one right now. I remember telling several friends back in 2010 that I’d hold off on buying a new console because there is usually a five year console cycle and that was about up. Luckily they choose not to listen to me and have been able to enjoy three great years of gaming on current hardware.
The people who have gotten into this current generation within the last few years are probably more than happy sticking with what we have now, those like myself who have had each of the current consoles since they launched, are absolutely dying for new hardware. It’s not like I’m tired of what is out there, but as a fan of gaming and as someone who wants gaming to continue to grow and be successful, I think we need new hardware just to excite the masses. When you look at what Apple does with the iPhone and iPad, it’s very clear that new hardware is something a lot of people want. I’m not suggesting that new consoles should be released every six months or yearly like Apple does, but every five to six years would be optimal in my opinion.
It looks like Microsoft and Sony are finally going to release some new hardware to get the people excited, but I’m not sure they will be as excited as in the past. Lets face it, even though no true gamer admits it, tablets and smartphones are here to stay and obviously they are taking away from the huge numbers of home console owners. I don’t believe that they are taking away from the so called “core” gamer, but casual gamer’s are still gamer’s and they have bought home gaming consoles in the past. I personally don’t believe we’ll see another gaming crash, but if Microsoft and Sony’s next console offerings don’t take off quickly, the industry could very well be in trouble. We’ve already seen a plethora of game developers close down within the last couple of years, quite a few other developers have switched to more profitable ways to produce and release their games like smartphones and tablets. Even if these developers are releasing a game for $1, if they sell 10 million copies it’s going to be considered a huge success and it’s going to make a lot of money. Conversely if a game developer is spending 200 million making a game for consoles and it doesn’t sell 3-5 million units, that game is considered a flop and more times than not the studio that made the game will end up shutting its doors. Of course larger studios can afford to have the occasional disappointment, but for smaller studios we’ve seen it time and time again and it never ends well.
I bought into the Wii U and I’m pretty satisfied with that purchase, but I’ve always said I’m the type of gamer who buys every console so that no game is exclusive from me. I am anxiously awaiting the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles respectively. We have certainly seen the last of the days when a single console absolutely dominates, the rise in third party game quality has seen to that. In the past a few great exclusives would win a console generation, now it’s all about online play and third party support, which is something Nintendo is only just now understanding.
As I said before I think there will still be consoles and people will still continue to buy them, but I feel as if the delays into next generation are causing some people to move on from home consoles. Some of these other places where we can find games are much cheaper and easier to access, it’s not certain doom for video games or anything like that, but the numbers wont be there like in the past and you will see a lot of people point that out. The gaming industry is in a state of flux in my opinion, it’s very clear that the industry wants to exclude retail from selling physical video games, but the majority of gamer’s still want physical games, I think part of the delay in the next generation had to do with the industry hoping to get to a point where they could do all digital downloads, which would also kill off at least some potential sales of new home gaming consoles. If this delay also included other negative aspects, like digital only, no backwards compatibility or locking out the use of used games, you can expect an even bigger dip in potential sales of the new consoles.
I originally thought the Wii U would set the world on fire, and it hasn’t done too bad, but I truly thought more people would rush to buy the first new piece of hardware in over six years. People still could flock to it once some of Nintendo’s more well known first party games start to come to the light of day, the Zelda’s, Metroid’s and Mario’s of the world will definitely push consoles, but in the back of my mind I cant help but think the big three needed to at least announce new consoles a year or two ago, build the excitement and get people interested. I really hope next generation isn’t too late, I know gaming will continue on in one form or another, but I really want to see home consoles continue to succeed, we need that new hardware to get excited about, and we need it sooner rather than later.