But is a longer console generation really stifling innovation?
I think at some point it can. Better hardware can open up different possibilities. Imagine if we hardware never progressed past the 16 bit SNES era and there was no realtime fully 3D rendering in games. Imagine if tech like HD resolutions, touchscreens, harddrive storage, internet connectivity and so on were never developed. What would video games be like then? The funny thing is I distinctly remember friends of mine arguing with me back in the early 90s about how they couldn't imagine gaming getting any better or how more advanced tech could improve it.