Ready or Not, Here We Come!

March 8, 2011

Microsoft is scouring the internet for engineers to develop the next Xbox, and rumors abound that Nintendo is hard at work on a sequel to its successful Wii.

Uh oh.

Now I realize that all three of the current consoles have reached the end of their five year lifespans, with the Xbox 360 showing remarkable endurance at nearly six years.  Nevertheless, I’m just not ready for replacements.  It’s not just my pinched pocketbook talking, either… I look at all the current crop of consoles can do and wonder, “Where does the industry go from here?”  Unless there’s a monumental paradigm shift, like the switch from sprites to polygons in 1995, it’s hard to imagine a practical use for the new hardware.

Let me qualify that statement a bit.  I don’t see a practical use for a new Xbox or Playstation.  The Wii, on the other hand, was long in the tooth from the moment it was released and is long overdue for retirement.  Word on the street (the intersection between T Street and 3rd Avenue, specifically) is that the next machine in the Nintendo lineage will include a quad-core processor and a Blu-Ray drive, both welcome enhancements that would bring the machine up to speed with its competitors.

(There were also rumors of other, more fanciful features that won’t ever be implemented in a million years and barely warrant discussion.  Come on, a projector? Clearly you’ve got this thing mistaken for the R2-Wii2.)

Help Us, Miyamoto! You're Our Only Hope!

Help Us, Miyamoto! You're Our Only Hope!

Back to the other two consoles.  They don’t need successors right now, and probably won’t for years to come.  Any improvements they bring to the table will be largely inconsequential… sure, a more powerful Xbox would likely sharpen up reaction times in Kinect titles and make 1080p the standard resolution for video games, rather than the rare exception, but none of this will revolutionize the gaming experience.  These features would be so trivial that they would hardly justify the added expense of a new console, along with the considerable annoyance of abandoning the previous machine and its massive library of titles.

The five year life cycle for game systems has become a rule of thumb for the video game industry, and manufacturers like Sega who have tried to tighten the gap between generations have been harshly punished for their impatience.  However, at this point in the evolution of video game hardware, even five years isn’t long enough.  Barring a truly game-changing innovation, these systems are as powerful as they need to be.  Perhaps it’s time for console manufacturers to follow the lead of popular home video formats like VHS and DVD, and stretch the lives of their products from years to decades.



One comment

  1. See you’re making changes to GrB to make it more accessible. I hope you are more successful than I have been. I gave commercialism a shot, but I always seemed to get it wrong. Everytime I tried to make my site popular, traffic dropped. I guess I am Autechre in a Lady Gaga world.

    Anyway, cool to see your old zines pubbed again on pdfs, I haven’t read them in a long time – nice to see someone else hasn’t forgotten the zine days.

    Good points on your post. It seems like an unchanging rule, technology seems to march ever forward, what can you do? Go along for the ride or collect old Atari games and stick your head in the sand?

    Or you can jump onto every new trend with abandon and suddenly find yourself 50 years old and writing about people a quarter your age. I see people on TV who look like fools – “Yes, I have gray hair but I’m still hip enough to be worried about Lady Gaga.” ; Shut up, Peter Pan. ; Do You want to become like them?

    What is the least embarssing path forward for aging fanboys, who are no longer boys by any definition?

    Thanks to technology, it is a choice no one seems to have to make anymore. People on the internet seem to have this odd dichotomy – they want to be young forever, and the anonymity of the internet allows this to a degree. However, now no one seems to want to admit they are older than 20.

    As far as new consoles are concerned, There is always something new on the horizon, whether you like it or not. Sony will probably jump in first (strongest motivation to reset) while N + M might go later. Of course, no one knows what will happen -it is all rumors. I bet we see Apple jump in, or maybe even a Facebook game console. Who knows.

    The best way of coping is to not go outside your comfort zone until you are ready to swallow whatever new things they want to shove in your mouth with a smile.

    Or to put it more succinctly, as Jesus Kalowski says in ‘the Bible for Assholes’: “Life is a race for money – Change the spare or Become spare change.” Did that quotation make sense?

    As far as promoting GRB goes as you have talked about, I think spamming other, more popular sites’ comment sections with links to your URL might be a good insurgent strategy for picking up more traffic.

    As for me, I’ve never been popular in real life, so why should it be different on the internet? So, I’ve given up. Good luck with your pursuit of fame + fortune, and apologies for the rant.

    – m.palisano, please visit http://www.the-laser.com, thanks

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