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Posted by Kamui (37 posts) -
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With Microsoft putting out their plans for Scorpio and Sony having the rumored Neo on the way, this next year looks to be one of the most influential in terms of console gaming. People have been speculating that they are moving to a hardware cycle more akin to Apple's which releases a new iteration of hardware every couple years or so. In the Giant Bomb interview with Phil Spencer though, Phil mentioned that it was not their plan to stick to a 2-3 year cycle. He more or less said they would put out new hardware when it makes sense to upgrade. So what exactly will these new hardware iterations line up with? Consoles have been fairly under-powered this generation compared to PCs, more-so than usual. With Steam as big as it is, most games are being ported to PC. I think this has a big part in how they came to the decision to upgrade their hardware early. On the other hand, Phil Spencer made it clear that Microsoft's focus on Windows gaming is stronger than ever, and that people buying software for PC instead of purchasing an Xbox isn't seen as a misstep anymore. Even so, I think they would like their console to be more on par with the PC gaming experience.

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So will new console iterations coincide with big leaps in PC hardware, such as the one we're seeing now with the new generation of video cards coming out? I'm not sure if there is a certain metric they're comparing console hardware to in order to determine when to upgrade, it's probably a decision based upon many things. Microsoft did mention that VR was one of the reasons they wanted to upgrade. VR is sure to be huge, but it's still in the early days of VR and the software experience isn't really there yet, so I don't see that as being something to rush out new hardware for. 4K resolution gaming is another thing Phil said was a major factor in why they were upgrading hardware early. If we look at how significant the jump was from SD to HD gaming, it's understandable that a new resolution standard would be a motivating factor for an early hardware upgrade. Again, as I said with VR, 4K is in its early days and not a ton of people have 4K displays yet. Another couple of years would be right in the wheelhouse of when to really get into the 4K market I would think.

One also has to wonder what the next move by Sony will be. Everyone is aware that the leaked specs of the Neo is less than what Microsoft has confirmed for project Scorpio. I get a similar vibe about Nintendo as well actually. Nintendo has always been secretive about their new hardware, but as the NX approaches launch, I feel like they should of started marketing it by now. They are even announcing games for it even though no one has any clue what 'it' is. Could Sony with the Neo and Nintendo the NX be scrambling to make sure they don't release new hardware that is too far under-powered compared to project Scorpio? Microsoft took to heart what happened this console generation when they went from way ahead of the pack with the 360 to underdog because their console under-performed compared to Sony's PS4. Maybe Sony and Nintendo will look at that result and try to make sure that doesn't happen to them. Nintendo is a bit harder to predict though as they have stated many times they don't even consider themselves in competition with those guys and they certainly haven't been afraid to put out an under-powered console. With the Wii U being a certified failure however, maybe their confidence is a bit shook and they are hedging their bets with this new NX hardware.

It's tough to imagine all of the ramifications that will occur to the console industry as a result of this shift in release time. Since these companies will be spending less time putting together the next generation of hardware, we can probably expect it to not be so drastically different as it traditionally is. We might not see big leaps forward in console UI design or network infrastructure. They are considering these more of a new iteration of the old hardware rather than a brand new product also, so as new iterations come out, they might not look drastically different either. New console launches will be a lot less exciting if it's more like new Iphone launches where you look at the thing and can barely tell it's new other than how it performs. There are still a few things that we might see within another iteration or two of hardware though. Things like ditching the disc drive completely and going all digital, or even just a reasonably sized hard drive. New tech like VR really requires in-store kiosks to show the average consumer what it's about, so maybe they don't' want to sever their ties with brick and mortar retailers just yet.

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With console cycles being shorter, we might also see more distrust from the consumer. Or at least less interest in buying consoles since the promise of 5-6 years of relevance will be gone. This is especially true since as Phil mentioned, there is no set cycle they have in mind, just whenever it makes sense. So the console hardware you buy might last 5-6 years, but might only last 2 or 3, who knows. I appreciate the fact though that Phil said he wanted to come out with the Scorpio announcement at the same time as the Xbox 1 S announcement so that consumers don't get burned buying the S then a year later seeing a more powerful version of their hardware available. I would expect that we also wouldn't see as much new peripheral hardware from new console iteration launches. Things like new controllers and the like might not accompany new hardware anymore. Do they necessarily need to put out new controllers? Not really I guess, I mean we're at a pretty good place with current gen controllers, but as the success of the Xbox Elite controller shows, there's always room for improvement. At the very least I think we can always look to new Nintendo hardware for some new crazy controller.

With Microsoft's hard push toward PC gaming and their need to elevate their console hardware to PC comparable levels, I wonder if there will ever come a time when it just doesn't make sense to put out this other box. Maybe someday Microsoft will just remain as a software developer with a game service/store on Windows and call it a day. But with Steam being a might adversary in that space and Microsoft putting out a new piece of hardware, that would be a far flung future. I'm going to remain optimistic about the Scorpio and Neo launch and hope that the hardware turns out to be really cool. If all else fails, Nintendo will always be putting out something weird and interesting. And they just recently discovered that gamers do in fact like to use the internet, so they are pretty far removed from anything PC. I'd love to hear what you guys think will happen to the console industry from this change in the hardware release cycle.

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#1 Posted by ninnanuam (579 posts) -

Well there was four years between og xbox and 360 that turned out well. 4 years is fine and im down with it.

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#2 Posted by an_ancient (303 posts) -

The thing I keep thinking about is that this isn't really something the console gaming industry has pushed and rather a reaction to hardware manufacturing. In retrospect, discounting the Wiimote, the Kinect and Six-Axis, a lot of recent developments are reactionary. Facebook and Twitter integration, Streaming out of the Box, Early Access programs and now this.

I also wonder what the numbers are if you ask component manufacturers to make the old hardware as compared to the recent one. I would hazard a guess that the cost of that outweighs the marketing point of consoles being these appliances that last you a generation. It also makes me think that if this story played out different, people would be complaining a year or so from now how the Netflix 4k streaming was horrible and would puzzle consumers that their phones and laptops could do it.

So yeah I feel for the console teams, it has become about walking a fine line and as someone who recently hid his desktop PC behind his huge 4K TV, the only point consoles enter my mind is I wonder if they are more silent when running games.

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#3 Edited by whitegreyblack (1949 posts) -

I think I've finally gone from being extremely cagey on the new consoles to being right on board with them. Since both companies have pushed the boat out on these until 2017, it seems somewhat in-line with the Xbox/PS2 to Xbox 360/PS3 generation timing.

I am still leery of Sony & Microsoft entering into the fool's errand that is a hardware & performance/graphics arms-race (they will never hope to compete with PCs, and the more they try the more the gap is noticeable - sort of the consoles' own version of "uncanny valley") but the idea of a new sorta-generation of consoles that should be 100% backwards compatible on day one sounds a-ok!

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#4 Posted by ThePanzini (723 posts) -

Considering both Neo/Scorpio won't have exclusive software their not new gen's most people will pass if anything the generations will get longer.

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#5 Posted by Immortal_Guy (203 posts) -

What I want to know is how this'll all look once Scorpio and Neo get a reasonable install base. Presumably developers will eventually shift to targeting the newer hardware rather than the older - and then will playing a game on a normal PS4/One feel like playing a PC game with all the settings set to low? Or could it even feel like playing the PS3/360 version of early PS4/One games? The other side of the coin is that developers may never feel able to fully exploit the extra resources, especialy if the install base for the new models never gets overwhelmingly larger than the current ones.

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#6 Posted by Rebel_Scum (1439 posts) -

For me its kinda shit. For one, I never buy the first release of a console and two I don't really care about common complaints about graphics like frame rate dips, screen tear etc.

I'd prefer they release a console and they let it run for ten years like the 360/ps3 gen. It needs to be that long because AAA games today are so huge and complex that it takes a decade for any studio to release so many games for that target system. Limiting it for 4 years was okay for the 8/16/32 bit eras but not for now.

Conversely what bit is this era? Seems like we've evolved and don't refer to bits anymore. What is this the 4gb era lol idk?

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#7 Posted by Rafaelfc (2243 posts) -

They will not sell all that well until one of the companies decides to leverage their power by cutting off baseline OG ps4/xbone versions, and then people will rage on the internet but the new consoles will sell miraculously a ton of units.

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#8 Edited by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

The fact they are only targeting 4k resolution and not trying to add anything beyond that to me says they will have a very minimal effect on the industry. 4k is nice but it's not THAT nice, and these 2 consoles will only really be outputting at the resolution but won't be adding in higher res textures or upping the framerate so it probably won't be all that noticeable to the average consumer. And to your point about the shorter console life span, last Gen is literally the only generation that lasted that long, traditional 4-6 years is the average. I do think that the added development time for games now makes them feel a lot shorter though since it can take years for one game to be finished now as before games could be made in much shorter time.

Anyway i think consumers would get much more benifit from these consoles if they used the power to boost the framerate and add in more graphical effects and better anti-aliasing. Even adding in options like pc games to turn up or down graphic settings to balance the framerate you want would be a major step up, so if your cool with 30fps or lower crank that thing up to max settings and if not put it on medium or lower the resolution and get 60fps.

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#9 Posted by hippie_genocide (2417 posts) -

It remains to be seen. Personally, I'm skeptical that these new machines will be able to pump out native 4K resolutions with any kind of decent framerate, since even top of the line PC's can't do it currently, but I'm open to be surprised. If VR really takes off, it will bode well for Scorpio. I'm not bent that they're trying though. New games will all be compatible with the current hardware. I kind of look at it like phones - you're not required or expected to buy every new iteration of a phone platform. Normally you keep your phone for a couple cycles and upgrade when its appropriate to do so, probably leapfrogging every 2 or 3 generations.

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#10 Posted by Sinusoidal (3608 posts) -

Meh. Consoles are dead. Long live PC!

I'd rather see someone focusing really innovative tech like ray tracing than trying to up the resolution even more. I'd take a real time rendered, 720p ray traced game over 4K any day. Unfortunately, people like their big numbers, so higher resolution it is.

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#11 Posted by Hunkulese (4225 posts) -

For me its kinda shit. For one, I never buy the first release of a console and two I don't really care about common complaints about graphics like frame rate dips, screen tear etc.

I'd prefer they release a console and they let it run for ten years like the 360/ps3 gen. It needs to be that long because AAA games today are so huge and complex that it takes a decade for any studio to release so many games for that target system. Limiting it for 4 years was okay for the 8/16/32 bit eras but not for now.

Conversely what bit is this era? Seems like we've evolved and don't refer to bits anymore. What is this the 4gb era lol idk?

How does that make any sense. This is ideal for you. It makes it more likely the generation goes on much longer and you'll be able to buy the console you want for much cheaper.

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#12 Posted by geirr (3736 posts) -
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#13 Posted by Shindig (4834 posts) -

It might not hamper the consumer too much as the boxes still won't be the power grab they used to. Merely an incremental stab at components that are cheaper and slightly better. Arguably what they were doing previously but now with the explicit angle of "Hey, this box does more, devs!" I could still wind up buying one box every 5-7 years if there's a game that really impresses. And I do imagine that in 2033, your XONE or PS4 will still be capable of running whatever's being put out.

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#14 Edited by Justin258 (15579 posts) -

@rebel_scum said:

For me its kinda shit. For one, I never buy the first release of a console and two I don't really care about common complaints about graphics like frame rate dips, screen tear etc.

I'd prefer they release a console and they let it run for ten years like the 360/ps3 gen. It needs to be that long because AAA games today are so huge and complex that it takes a decade for any studio to release so many games for that target system. Limiting it for 4 years was okay for the 8/16/32 bit eras but not for now.

Conversely what bit is this era? Seems like we've evolved and don't refer to bits anymore. What is this the 4gb era lol idk?

The Xbox One and PS4 have 64-bit processors. Pretty much any consumer-level PC these days has a 64 bit processor. I mean, I'm sure you can find some cheap ones that are 32, but most are going to be 64.

I'd be far more excited about new consoles if Microsoft and Sony could make some sort of commitment to sixty frames per second. Or, hell, I'd be OK if they could tell companies that if any game drops below thirty at any point, they can't put it on the console, period. I'll take a lower resolution and less graphical bells and whistles if games will run reasonably well.

But I'm hardly their primary customer anymore. I can build my own computer and, as far as I can tell, my primary gaming machines will be computers going forward, largely because of the whole framerate thing. At some point, maybe my only gaming machines aside from Nintendo consoles.

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#15 Edited by dagas (3659 posts) -

I have yet to buy a current gen console. I would prefer a huge price drop rather than more powerful consoles because I'll always be able to outperform them on PC anyway by getting a better video card. The main draw consoles have is that you can buy it cheaper than a PC and it is current for longer than any PC. But if they prices go up again with new versions and they keep putting out new ones each 3 years then I might as well just upgrade video cards.

I'll have to pick up a PS4 for Yakuza 0 but it depends on the price difference if I'll get a regular or Neo.

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#16 Posted by Stonyman65 (3799 posts) -

They've probably extended the current console gen a few years so thats good at least, I guess?

I hope this doesn't become a trend of a new $400 console "upgrade" every 2-3 years. That would be really shitty for console-only players and at a certain point kind of defeats the whole purpose of buying a console over a gaming PC anyway, especially with gaming PC getting cheaper and more powerful as time goes on. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this all shakes out before passing any judgment, but I know that if I were a console player who spend ~$400 within the last 3 years for an Xbox One or PS4, I'd be really, really pissed off right now.

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#17 Posted by troy333 (31 posts) -

We really don't know much about the Neo. Is it just slightly more powerful or are the rumored specs true (4 Teraflops). Maybe they're going back to the drawing board. Maybe it's coming out this fall. Maybe it's coming out next spring. Maybe it's coming out next fall. Who knows?

I wish Sony was a little more transparent on what exactly the Neo is and when it's coming out.

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#18 Edited by ninnanuam (579 posts) -
@dagas said:

I have yet to buy a current gen console. I would prefer a huge price drop rather than more powerful consoles because I'll always be able to outperform them on PC anyway by getting a better video card. The main draw consoles have is that you can buy it cheaper than a PC and it is current for longer than any PC. But if they prices go up again with new versions and they keep putting out new ones each 3 years then I might as well just upgrade video cards.

I'll have to pick up a PS4 for Yakuza 0 but it depends on the price difference if I'll get a regular or Neo.

The new GTX 1070 is a 6.5 teraflop card so a point 5 bump over the scorpio but its bandwidth is lower (256 to 320), I don't know what the differences will mean for games but lets say they are comparable. The 1070 retails for $380 (but try finding one at that price now), I expect it will hold its price like the 970 before it. Next year Nvidia will release the TI or titan equivalent so a far more expensive card and probably a 960 equivalent which would likely be less powerful than the Scorpio. So in the year scorpio releases its giving you an entry level enthusiast PC comparable gaming experience in your living room, with almost no work. While there will be better cards out there the 1080 will still be around $550 and the Ti and Titans of the world will probably be $800-$1000. Which is unrealistic for most gamers (all my PC friends are moving to 1070, when non reference cards really start appearing).

As you said It'll all come down to price/performance in the end. But if the box clocks in at $600 (which I don't think it will) I think that's a totally workable cycle. I generally buy new graphics cards on a two year cycle ( 970 to 1070 this year for example) and new PC parts as needed. I'm already paying $400 for a graphics card every two years why not just buy a whole box if the increase in power is in line with the GPU i'd be buying during that cycle anyway?

For some, like me, it might be better to go the other way. While I've been gaming on the PC since the 90's, at heart I like the ease of use with a console and only do PC gaming because its prettier. You give me comparable specs in a console and I'm likely to stick to consoles.

I might let my PC sit while I buy new consoles instead of graphics cards, then trade in the old console, which is much easier than selling an old card. If the box is $600 and I can sell or trade in the old one for $200 then I'm out almost nothing and I get the benefits of PC enthusiast graphics, console plug and play, no tinkering, new warranty, physical copies and brick and mortar sales.

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#19 Posted by aiomon (114 posts) -

I'm not sure I know enough to predict larger trends, but a lot of people I know will be stepping away from consoles. It's super off putting to a console player to know that the thing they buy will be succeeded potentially. Like many of my friends by a console every 6 years or whatever, and the thought of needing to upgrade every 2-3 years to have the best box is off putting.

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#20 Edited by ninnanuam (579 posts) -
@aiomon said:

I'm not sure I know enough to predict larger trends, but a lot of people I know will be stepping away from consoles. It's super off putting to a console player to know that the thing they buy will be succeeded potentially. Like many of my friends by a console every 6 years or whatever, and the thought of needing to upgrade every 2-3 years to have the best box is off putting.

But if they move to PC they will likely never have "the best box" I'm not seeing the benefit of people who want a machine to be the "best" for 6 years moving to a platform where "the best" changes almost every 6-12 months. So you have reguar xbox one and the next guys got scorpio, your playing the same games, the only reason to care is Epeen. You wanna minimise Epeen envy, you don't play on PC, there is always someone out there rocking something better.

So long as companies continue to make sure new games run on old systems for at least 5 to 7 years, so people who buy a console get their 6 years out of it I see no problem with new models on a more regular cycle.

People wanting one system for 6 years get no benefit from moving to PC. You might have more control over when you upgrade but in order to stay reasonably current you'll still have to upgrade the PC at least every 3 - 6 years. Upgrading will likely not end up much cheaper than just grabbing that years new model PlayStation or Xbox.

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#21 Edited by Dragon_Puncher (619 posts) -

It's the way forward, but I doubt we'll get more than 1 upgraded console per generation. 4 years from now we'll get a real new console which probably plays the old games, but where the new games no longer has to work with the older systems.

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#22 Posted by aiomon (114 posts) -

@ninnanuam: Sure, they will never have the best, but I think the thinking is more like "Well, a console is basically a PC now anyway, so I might as well play on a system with keyboard and mouse, cheaper/more games"

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#23 Posted by FlashFlood_29 (4393 posts) -

Or, hell, I'd be OK if they could tell companies that if any game drops below thirty at any point, they can't put it on the console, period.

This, so much. They need to have some respect for their consoles but I get it.