#1 Posted by regularassmilk (1680 posts) -

So I just realized that the Xbox 360 came out in the 2005, the Wii and the PS3 in 2006. So this console cycle is now almost a decade old, which is crazy. I even remember people at Sony and Microsoft saying stuff like this cycle lasting for ten years plus and I didn't believe them, yet here we are. So, now that the technology is getting ridiculous, will the cycles just get progressively longer? Will the tech plateau, or evolve into something new entirely?

(Sorry if it seems like I've posted tons tonight. I don't get on too often anymore.)

#2 Posted by Slaegar (792 posts) -

What do you mean specifically by the technology is getting ridiculous? 
These consoles have gotten insanely old. Most people don't realize just how out dated they are. You couldn't comprehend running a computer OS and game off 256 MBs of RAM, but that what developers are doing. Imagine making skyrim fit on 130MBs or so of RAM. 
I just bought dark souls for the PC and while running MSI Afterburner to keep an eye on my GPU usage, it showed 0% GPU usage a lot of the time. I could get 200+ FPS in Dead Space at 1080p on my OLD computer. 
I'm very interested in seeing what game developers can do with a new generation of consoles. Remember how the xbox 360 came out and suddenly you could do real crowds in games and we got Dead Rising and Assassin's Creed. 
I remember someone at Crytek mentioned he had put together a program that would procedurally generate cities. Imagine a competitive FPS where the map was different every time. 
In 6 years after this next console cycle it will look pretty similar to what it does now.

#3 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2356 posts) -

Next gen probably will be even longer but I'm hoping that the tech inside the systems will stand the test of time better than this generation has.

#4 Posted by Giantstalker (1882 posts) -

I wonder if Microsoft or Sony (won't even entertain Nintendo in this) would ever allow players to "upgrade" their console's processing ability for cash, much like anyone can do with their PC.

It would obviously require a lot more open system architecture, but in the quest to squeeze more money out of consumers, I'm sure people would drop an extra one or even two hundred dollars for extra RAM or an extra SLI'd video card.

It's utterly unrealistic but not completely impossible.

#5 Posted by Hunter5024 (6363 posts) -

I really hope not. It seemed like such a good idea when they were bragging about the long life cycles they intended at the beginning of this generation, but it screwed a lot of stuff up. I do think that eventually graphics will reach a point of diminishing returns, and that we will be able to sustain longer life cycles like this one, but the last year or two has proved that we are not quite there yet.

#6 Posted by BisonHero (8424 posts) -

I don't expect the next console cycle to last as long, by which I mean, Nintendo is pretty much going to have to make a new console before anybody else because the Wii U is probably going to run out of steam way sooner than the Wii did (and even the Wii really only lasted about 4 years: 2011 and 2012 were pretty rough for the Wii).

At the very least, I expect Nintendo to have a new console in 5 years or less. Maybe that will force the next console generation, or maybe Sony and Microsoft can just carry on because all that new Nintendo console will do is bring Nintendo on par with the Microsoft Durango and Sony Orbis.

#7 Posted by BeachThunder (13141 posts) -

Yes; I look forward to seeing another one of these topics in 2030.

#8 Posted by jehrco (43 posts) -

I have a theory that "the Nintendo" that we heard rumored is in fact a second secret console. They spent an ass load of their wii money on r&d; and the wiiu doesn't seem like it required much research or development. My guess is next year we get orbis and Durango then the year after Nintendo launches a "current" console. Hopefully learning a lot from a GUI/online perspective they are receiving on the wiiu. I also believe in chem trails.

#9 Edited by clstirens (854 posts) -

I think so, and hope so. This generation would have lasted a bit longer, I feel, were it not for ram limitations and physical media limitations.

#10 Posted by Branthog (5717 posts) -

I fucking hope not.

I don't know how much longer I can be a viable gamer. I mean, at some point, my reaction time is going to be too slow to even bother with shooters. My eyes will be too awful to play on a television across the room. My joints will ache too much to grip a mouse and keyboard for hours. Learning new gaming concepts (complicated RTS, for example) will start to fail. I won't be able to compete with other human beings. I want as many iterations on tech as possible, before that happens. If this this generation starts this year and takes longer (say, 10), I'll be in my mid 40s. That might still be okay for one more generation launched at that point (maybe) . . . but then that's it (I really don't see me being able to keep up in my mid to late 50s, for a third round of consoles).

So let's go with this shit. Get it out and iterate. Every five years is acceptable, but let's not cheap-out on the hardware. I'm not five years old. I have an income. TAKE MY MONEY.

#11 Posted by RenegadeSaint (1627 posts) -

I think it will be about the same length. We've hit the sweet spot in generation length from the perspective of Sony and Microsoft with gaming's mainstream appeal returning to the level it saw with the NES. You have to remember that the average consumer thinks 360 and PS3 games look amazing; they aren't on video game forums or watching demo reels of the newest technology. Instead they are watching the next Pixar movie and are quite okay with the fact that movies and games are different mediums and do not need to approach each other. You have to run a large business with profits in mind (shareholders, thousands of jobs on the line) and prolonged console cycles produce more profits.

#12 Posted by mosespippy (4746 posts) -

I expect it to last as long. If it's shorter then companies won't recover their investments. If it's longer then they'll lose market share to the PC as the console's tech get surpassed. The one thing that makes me think it could be longer is that the market for consoles will grow and console sales will remain strong 8 or 9 years after they launch and companies won't want to cannibalise that market by putting out new hardware.

#13 Edited by Lashe (1395 posts) -

@Giantstalker said:

I wonder if Microsoft or Sony (won't even entertain Nintendo in this) would ever allow players to "upgrade" their console's processing ability for cash, much like anyone can do with their PC.

It would obviously require a lot more open system architecture, but in the quest to squeeze more money out of consumers, I'm sure people would drop an extra one or even two hundred dollars for extra RAM or an extra SLI'd video card.

It's utterly unrealistic but not completely impossible.

Fragmentation of SKU is removing the key advantage consoles have over PCs: simplicity. Once you start upgrading parts, there's two or more potential barriers to entry. The advantage of having the same power in the box is that (as a developer and consumer) you know the experience will be consistent across all devices for the lifetime of the product. Arguably you can see very small variations with the current consoles. For instance, you could mod an Xbox/PS3 to use a high-capacity SSD and install all games, thus bumping the framerate/loadtimes up a little. For the most part, though, the experience is consistent and — I would argue — should stay that way.

There'd be outrage if a game only performed with added hardware. I mean, remember how nuts the N64 Expansion Pack was?

#14 Edited by laserbolts (5444 posts) -

@Branthog: Your post is interesting to me because it makes me think if I will be still playing video games in my 40s. Im wondering if I will "grow out" of them by then or if most of our generation will be playing videogames with our children. Picturing a call of duty lobby full of 40 year olds just seems so odd to me.

On topic its hard to say how long the new consoles run for. I guess it depends on how much PC gaming pushes the boundaries during that time.

#15 Posted by Omnomnivore (2940 posts) -

Honestly I hope that the cycle is between 4-5 years. The reason behind this is the idea that with computers, I have to upgrade for smooth game-play. When it comes to consoles - it's beginning to feel like I'm playing a less "finished" title because the technology is too far forward. My main goal with owning a console is the security of smooth game-play, and I'm just not getting that anymore.

#16 Edited by MikkaQ (10296 posts) -

Now that these consoles are dedicated entertainment devices (and I don't think that will change) where it's ability to watch content from various sources is as much of a sales point as it's ability to play games, I think the manufacturers are ready to hunker down. Get a great manufacturing workflow/supply chain, keep the costs down, build with the future in mind and what not. Cause once they have that mastered, a console is all profit, it's a box literally designed to sell you things in your living room. Why spend all that money making a new console when you can fucking sell stuff to someone's box in the living room?

Hell the only reason new consoles are on their way is that these systems weren't necessarily build with that functionality from day-one, and now that they know how consoles fit into the modern living room, these guys are going to be purpose-built and made for the long-run. And they're going to be designed in such a way that you'll keep throwing money at the box for years.

#18 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4907 posts) -


#19 Edited by ShatterShock (71 posts) -

It's a hard question to answer because there are so many unknown factors at play that could radically change the outcome. If low-ball estimates about the graphics capability of the Microsoft and Sony consoles prove to be true, then it would be plausible that the console generation could end up being shorter, since Microsoft and Sony would have less need to stick to what they have and make money back on a large investment. However if the systems end up being powerful enough to run things like Unreal Engine 4 and the Luminous Engine at max settings then there would be much less need to upgrade (and much more need to recuperate costs).

You have to wonder where Nintendo will fit into the picture. If 720/Durango and/or Orbis/Omni end up being close enough to the Wii U to justify easy ports, then the Wii U might be in it for the long haul. Part of the reason that Nintendo moved first with the Wii U is because the Wii was too weak for third parties to justify ports from 360/PS3/PC focused games.

Also, you have to consider the effect that mobile and cloud gaming could have on the console market. Mobile devices improve every year, with estimates stating that they'll be able to match a 360's graphics within 1-3 more years. If consoles stay stagnant for too long, then it is a real possibility that mobile devices could catch up to or even surpass consoles, threatening to make them irrelevant. It would be like when the Dreamcast caught up with arcades and took away one of, if not the most important draw of the arcade: that they were better looking than consoles. The only thing really holding mobile back is a lack of a standardized game pad and a lack of a successful, $50-60 game to prove the viability of the market.

As for cloud gaming, we know that Sony has bought Gaikai and rumors have pointed to both Sony and Microsoft planning cloud gaming services for their next-generation platforms. In this context, it may make sense to have moderately powered consoles because once they start to show their age, Microsoft and Sony could just hook up high powered PCs to their service and make the argument that their systems are still graphically relevant(obvious drawbacks of cloud gaming aside). Imagine Microsoft releasing a theroetical X-Box 1080 after the 720, but allowing you to play 1080 games on the 720 over the cloud. Actually they could do the same thing earlier between the 360 and 720.

#20 Posted by Zrais (163 posts) -

I'd imagine that is the plan, they make more money on games than they do systems so I'm sure they would like to stretch the profit for as long as possible.

#21 Posted by hermes (1742 posts) -

I think the next generation will be shorter than this one.

Honestly, I don't mind the long cycle... we all saw Microsoft and Sony taking a time and giving their A game (games like Uncharted 3 or Halo 4 could not have happened at the beginning of the cycle), but I think they are eager to sell us more toys (even though accessories like Kinect bought us time), and the PC has surpassed the consoles to the point developers have to work hard to port down games (which is a clear indicator of the beginning of a new generation).

#22 Posted by insouciant (853 posts) -

@regularassmilk said:

(Sorry if it seems like I've posted tons tonight. I don't get on too often anymore.)

I totally understand.

#23 Posted by sulc84 (14 posts) -

they try to keep every generation live for about 10 years.

#24 Posted by Sackmanjones (5202 posts) -

The way sales have crashed this year, I doubt they will wait this long again.