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The 5-Year Console Cycle Is Dead

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the trading-increments-for-subscriptions dept.

PlayStation (Games) 422

Pickens writes "The Xbox 360 recently turned five years old, and with no known successor on the horizon for the 360, PlayStation 3 or Wii, Cnet reports on the death of the 5-year console cycle — one of the video game industry's most longstanding truisms. For example, the Nintendo Entertainment System came out in 1985, followed by the Super NES in 1991, the Nintendo 64 in 1996, the GameCube in 2001, and the Wii in 2006. But now, why should console makers upgrade their offerings? Consumers are still buying their machines by the hundreds of thousands each month, and ramped-up online initiatives are breathing new life into the systems. A lot of it has to do with the fact that with the current generation of consoles, each company found a way to maximize either the technology behind the devices, or the utility to a wide range of new gamers."

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It is all about resolution (1, Insightful)

linzeal (197905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381872)

When even the latest and greatest 3D TVs [amazon.com] only go up to 1080p and the vast majority of people playing games at 720p max who is going to buy a next gen console for a screen size that does not exist.

Re:It is all about resolution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381942)

that makes no sense. the first how many genereations of consoles were all stuck on NTSC or PAL resolutions. Theres no reason why the PS4 wouldn't just stick with 1080p but add things like tesselation and 8x FSAA to make everything look better.

Re:It is all about resolution (2, Insightful)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382164)

The early consoles couldn't even take care of the available resolution. NES was 256x240. Not to mention the 16 colour limitation on NES. SNES then looked better with the same (NTSC) display, as did N64. They were all major improvements on their predecessor.

I don't think you can improve that much on the existing consoles, definitely not the leaps and bounds they had in the early days.

Re:It is all about resolution (0, Flamebait)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382026)

You're probably one of those poor deluded souls who thinks that a cheep plastic lens placed in front of a 20 megapixel ccd makes for an awesome camera.

Re:It is all about resolution (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382074)

That makes absolutely no sense at all. NTSC was used in all major consoles from PONG to the Wii.

Re:It is all about resolution (2, Interesting)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382356)

So basically he claim that if it can run Amiga Bratwurst [mobygames.com] in 1080 there's not need to upgrade the hardware because hey, it's 1080p?

Omg the graphics! http://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/bratwurst/screenshots/gameShotId,192350/ [mobygames.com] ;D

(Actually it's very fun, zooming in and out as you approach each other.
Amiga Roketz [emuparadise.org] looked better [multimedia.cx] but played worse.
And then there was Gravity Force [pdroms.de] of course.)

Re:It is all about resolution (2, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382488)

I believe you. Wholly.
This was to be a Haiku,
but I couldn't think of anything finish up with.
Refrigerator.

Re:It is all about resolution (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382076)

> vast majority of people playing games at 720p max

Your comment skirts around the issue, but is not entirely accurate. It is not the players, but the game devs themselves that are "not demanding" a new console. The PS3's RSX is ~= 7800 GTX. Most _games_ DON'T render at the native 1080p but at 720p simply because most (PS3) games are GPU bound. (XBox 360 games are CPU bound if you are curious.) That said, currently the SPUs are _still_ under underutilized. Naughty Dog said this a few years back, but it is slowly getting better:

http://ps3.ign.com/articles/832/832114p2.html [ign.com]
"I'm more impressed with the hardware the longer we get to work with it. Imagining trying to develop Uncharted without the Blu-ray drive, without the hard drive, or without the Cell processor makes me wonder what kind of game we would have ended up with. It certainly would have required a lot more compromises than I would have been comfortable making. And much like the PS2, I think the longer developers work with the machine, the better the games are going to get. For instance we are only using approximately 1/3 of the processing power of the SPUs on the Cell processor in Uncharted."

The presentation "Getting Unreal Engine 3 to 60Hz" isn't (yet) available on Devnet, but thankfully can be found here...
http://www.scribd.com/doc/15118967/Hitting-60Hz-in-Unreal-Engine [scribd.com]

Other presentations (GDC 2009) worth reading are
* The PlayStation®3's SPUs in the Real World - A KILLZONE 2 Case Study
* Practical SPU Usage in GOD OF WAR 3

It will be REAL interesting to see what Polyphony Digital (Gran Turismo 5), and Team Ico (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus) since these two studios are known to typically push the PlayStation (2 & 3) to its limits.

Cheers

Re:It is all about resolution (4, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382140)

Sorry for the bad netiquette / karma whoring, didn't realize these were available ...

* The PlayStation®3's SPUs in the Real World - A KILLZONE 2 Case Study
http://sijm.ca/2009/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/michiel-van-der-leeuw.pdf [sijm.ca]

* Practical SPU Usage in GOD OF WAR 3
http://www.tilander.org/aurora/comp/gdc2009_Tilander_Filippov_SPU.pdf [tilander.org]

Cheers

--
CPUs & GPUs are still too damn slow.. A graphics programmer who worked on Uncharted 2 (one of the best looking PS3 games available) shares his comments on the future of GPUs / Rendering ...
http://filmicgames.com/archives/467 [filmicgames.com]

Re:It is all about resolution (0)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382086)

Its not all about resolution.

What about polygon count, and memory size?
--
download windows media codec pack [nirmaltv.com]

Re:It is all about resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382232)

Mind not spamming your crap in a fake .sig? Asstard.

Re:It is all about resolution (2, Funny)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382274)

I play most of my games at 1920x1280...oh, wait, that's because I use a COMPUTER, not a limited machine, for my gaming. Ooops.

Re:It is all about resolution (1)

iethree (666892) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382384)

With HDTV adoption just now taking off, and your average console buyer (read: soccer mom) still in awe of the graphics capabilities of current consoles, and the fact that the aforementioned console buyers can't see the difference between 480i and 1080p... a new console would be a tough sell. If I remember correctly, both the xbox360 and ps3 were originally sold at a loss. Why would Microsoft or Sony want to start making new machines that were not obviously better and suddenly lost money in the middle of a global recession? Methinks my xbox 360 will be around for a while longer, that is, unless I get a 4th red ring of death.

Wow, not even the first example is right (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381876)

It was over 7 years between the famicom and the super famicom, the gap is shorter in the US because Nintendo waited 2 years to start selling the famicom(NES) in the US.

Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381888)

Because when you see it, you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (5, Funny)

ZosX (517789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381920)

You need to learn basic geometry.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381970)

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1, Funny)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382358)

180, you stupid, spaghetti-slurping cretin - *180*! If I did a 360, I'd go completely around and end up back where I started!

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0, Offtopic)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382374)

Whoops, wrong parent (who's parents did you have?).

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (2, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382182)

You need to learn to think outside the X-Box, and get past the assumptions of basic geometry. He is probably walking backwards, keeping a steady eye on the box, ever vigilant against any mutant viruses that might attack at any moment.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382254)

I'd say woosh, except that the joke AC is retelling is so stupid that I think the joke is actually on AC.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1)

Anonymous Cow Nerd (1871092) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382394)

You need to learn basic geometry.

Actually, turning 360 degrees and walking in a straight line WOULD in fact take you away from the XBox (although you would pass over it first). However, since you are now dizzy from turning around, you will probably step on it in the process. Since the OP intended to portray his disgust at the XBox 360, I am sure this is what he intended. ZosX, you fell into his trap! :D

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382448)

Why?

You do a 360 check that no-one saw you with it, then walk forwards (crushing it first).

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0, Redundant)

rdyer1 (1003835) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381936)

you'll turn 360 degrees

...

and walk away

?? At which point you would bump right back into the 360.

*crash* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381938)

How awkward.

--
Madonna is SEXY! I LOVE MADONNA!!!

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381964)

Because when you see it, you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away.

That's a crazy eye arrangement you've got there.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381968)

360!? "walk away" is more like stumble over. Flat earth intelligence comes full circle.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382060)

Because when you see it, you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away.

Crazy Ivan!

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382122)

Why do they call it the Xbox 360?

Because when you see it, you'll turn 360 degrees, get dizzy, and have to sit down for a while.

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382142)

you guys all got trolled... so sad...

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382436)

Because when you see it you do 3 60's and walk away!!!!!11111lol

Re:Why do they call it the Xbox 360? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382528)

Mod parent stupid...oh wait..

Business Model Changes (3, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381892)

The business model has changed in a way which makes 5-year-console-cycles less important. It used to be turning out a new console would give you new capabilities AND would get people to buy lots of new games. Now you may get a little more power and may be able to upgrade the way a few things are done, but more of your revenue stream comes from subscriptions than from new game or new console sales. (New console sales are actually a net negative, at least for some of the major providers, because they keep the lost low to encourage sales of the games and recoup the loss on games + subscriptions.)

Also, the technology of game platforms isn't advancing quickly enough any more to make a five-year-lag a competition killer.

Re:Business Model Changes (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382020)

I'd be willing to bet that in the past 5 years graphics technology has improved enough to make it worth replacing the whole guts of a console box with something newer.

I'd also be willing to bet that the economy being shite has reduced the disposable income of the planet to the point where profits on such a development program wouldn't be worth the effort.

But unemployed people have less money and more time, so selling them old technology still makes a pretty good incremental margin.

Re:Business Model Changes (2, Informative)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382214)

Especially the Wii would of course benefit from an upgrade.

Kinda haven't played it but was actually in an electronics store today which had it hooked up to a large HD screen and it looked like utter crap, sorta like if you used a non-RGB scart (maybe not in the US?) or JPEG encoded with low quality. Blurry and weird. Cable and TV may had sucked (composite cable?)

Anyway, regardless of course it could had been better.

Heck, the Gamecube could output DVI ..

Re:Business Model Changes (1, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382452)

Well, it kind of all depends on whether or not you are focused on the gameplay or how pretty the backgrounds are and how anal you are.

Playing a Wii on a 20 foot tall screen is really not the dire sort of thing you would like to make it out to be.

Any new console is going to be about marginal benefit. As time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to achieve significant enough marginal benefit when weighed against all of the costs to the end users. This applies equally well to the "prettier" consoles too.

Re:Business Model Changes (2, Interesting)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382494)

Especially the Wii would of course benefit from an upgrade.

Part of the Wii's success is that development on it is cheap thanks to not needing to adopt different development practices (necessary by multi-core CPUs) and invest in HD graphics.

Re:Business Model Changes (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382224)

Well, given that the 360, and PS3 both have released "slim" versions, with updated manufacturing (die shrink, improved thermals etc), I'd say they aren't exactly sticking to the same old technology, just new tech that's 100% backwards compatible.

Re:Business Model Changes (1, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382522)

I'd be willing to bet that in the past 5 years graphics technology has improved enough to make it worth replacing the whole guts of a console box with something newer.

Of course it has. But why should they have to put any effort or expense into it? It's not like consumers care or anything. We've proven that time and time again.

This is the new model of business models: We shouldn't have to actually do anything to have consumers give us money. It's the entitlement mentality of big business circa 2010. From banksters on down.

Re:Business Model Changes (1)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382102)

Sorry you are wrong re: hardware.
The hardware is still advancing but for a variety of reasons there is less incentive to utilise it given that revenues are fantastic using the old stuff. Of course over time this will lead to less impetus to drive hardware but for now hardware is still plowing ahead, thank god.

The proof in the pudding is how a 100 dollar mainstream PC video card can pretty much max out any console port (i.e. most PC titles) on 720p or even 1080p. Five years ago your 100 dollar card would struggle to run the latest AAA title at medium-low detail, now is no longer the case.

Re:Business Model Changes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382234)

Also, the technology of game platforms isn't advancing quickly enough any more to make a five-year-lag a competition killer.

My impression was that it wasn't that the technology available to platform manufacturers isn't advancing, it's that game developers aren't really interested in taking advantage of technology beyond what's currently available. I remember an article for a couple of years ago that discussed the massive costs involved in creating new games and how the return on that investment didn't seem to merit continuing to increase the development budgets.

It stands to reason that if game developers aren't willing to put the money into making games that require faster hardware, console makers don't need to push out new consoles and can, instead, work on creating smaller, quieter, cheaper versions of their current consoles.

Re:Business Model Changes (1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382430)

The business model has changed in a way which makes 5-year-console-cycles less important.

Yes, they've lowered consumers' expectations. It's not a function of "business model" so much as a function of the effectiveness of marketing. Look, they sold these millions of console buyers on the idea that it's better to have obsolete hardware. And this person at Naughty Dog is part of the sell job. "Yeah, it's so much better to have old hardware, because we don't have to give the customer as much. And that of course, is a win for everyone (except the customer, but fuck him)". Hey, Mr. Naughty Dog, I'm sure it's nice for your bottom line to dig the same whole over and over again, using bigger and bigger budgets to make games that provide less and less value. Nice setup you've got. It's basically what the pop music industry did for years. "Yeah, it's costs 10 million dollars to make an album of music by some tired super-mega-star going through the motions, but the fans appreciate it that much more because it's famliar". Goddamn, you want to gloat about your inflated business model that's fine, but save us the lecture about how much we should appreciate it. The music industry might have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddlesome kids with their Internet and mp3s and torrents. I hope the game industry realizes that the clock is running for them, too.

Shamefully, a lot of consumers will always line up to have someone piss on their heads and call it Heavy Rain.

When I put forth the proposition that marketing and advertising are the most powerful influences in every single one of our lives (especially those that believe they are not affected by it), I am being very serious. Every single one of our tastes, from our preference for skinny and shiny to our political beliefs, our concept of beauty, our desires, hopes, even the structure of our families has been brought to you by our sponsors. Do you think a Lexus coupe is more attractive than a 1973 toyota pickup truck? Well thank J. Walter Thompson.

Mad Men is not a soap opera so much as the history of the decline and fall of Western Civilization.

Maximising technology? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381896)

"A lot of it has to do with the fact that with the current generation of consoles, each company found a way to maximize either the technology behind the devices, or the utility to a wide range of new gamers"

That and because most PC games are crippled so they can also run on consoles (or are ports of comparitively cripppled console games), thereby leaving most of their computing power idle.

Re:Maximising technology? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382248)

The vast majority of a game's level of fun has little to do with hardware. About the only two times where hardware becomes an issue is when the hardware isn't adequate to show you all the information you need or with loading times which completely screw up immersion. I'd rather Fable II look worse and have no loading screens than it to have the terrible amount of loading it has.

I know that some people obsess over pixel count and want their games to look better, but the fact is, it doesn't make the game any more fun. A game that isn't fun to play in NTSC resolutions isn't going to become fun to play in 1080p. A game that is a poorly executed concept with broken play mechanics isn't going to be any more fun if there are 3,000 polygons rendered per second or 300,000,000 polygons rendered per second. Etc.

Game Studios (3, Insightful)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381908)

Game studios and developers probably put some pressure too. Having to program for yet another console gets expensive and complicated. Instead of having to learn new hardware, they can continue expanding the tech behind the software.

Say again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381932)

Didn't MS just come out with the Kinect?

Re:Say again? (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381982)

And the Kinect is just a new controller for the 360.

Re:Say again? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382050)

The Wii was just a new controller for the gamecube

Re:Say again? (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382418)

The hell it was. Gamecube and Wii used different media formats, different input device busses, different CPU, different GPU.

Gamecube GPU - ATI "Flipper", 162 MHz
Wii GPU - ATI "Hollywood", 243 MHz

Gamecube CPU - IBM PowerPC "Gekko", 486 MHz
Wii CPU - IBM PowerPC-based "Broadway, 729 MHz

Re:Say again? (2, Funny)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382226)

Didn't you see the commercials? Kinect is not the controller, you are the controller....

Re:Say again? (1)

thrash242 (697169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381984)

You're aware that the Kinect is not a standalone console, right?

It's an add-on peripheral for the XBOX 360.

Re:Say again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382172)

Sorry, I forgot to mention I'm not a doofus.
And of course you're aware the Kinect remakes and reinvigorates the 360 market, right?

Maybe in this economy... (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381978)

People aren't as willing to buy and dispose of consoles, just to get the "latest and greatest". I think the success of the Wii has also shown that there is a market for just "fun" games, rather than just relying on graphical eye candy. In addition, with the Sony Move and Microsoft Kinect, in some ways these consoles are new enough.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382032)

The Wii just appealed to the casual gamer grandmas who would have never considered console before. The only reason it sold so much is because it opened a new market that consoles could previously never break into. It was also relatively cheap, further lowering the bar to its entry into the market. The 360 appealed more to the traditional console crowd. Most serious gamers I know have 360s. Not many have a Wii.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382100)

Most of the "serious" gamers I know own an 360/ps3 AND a Wii because it's just more fun when you have guests over. Not everybody wants to play Halo.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (2, Funny)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382470)

come on, *serious* gamers don't have friends over

Re:Maybe in this economy... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382144)

I am a fairly serious gamer, I play PC games via wine, if they don't work with wine/crossover I just don't play them that way. I have a PS3 and am getting a red Wii. I have an NES, a N64, a gamecube, and a PS2. The PC is not getting upgraded since I can't find games that really warrant it.

The only people who makes these claims about the wii are children. They are afraid if they like something "Childish" people will realize what children they really are.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382264)

am getting a red Wii.

You might want to have that looked at by a doctor.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382210)

The 360 appealed more to the traditional console crowd.

Well, for varying definitions of "traditional." I prefer the Wii because I like fun games, and FPS with horrible controls are not (imo) fun. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many Wii games feel very much like the classics I remember--sometimes because they are 2D (NSMBW, the new Donkey Kong) and sometimes because they capture the spirit of those games (Super Mario Bros Galaxy, Zelda.) No, I think that the Wii is more traditional, and that the Xbox (and later the 360) really broke out and found new ways to compete.

I think that the real appeal of the 360 was online play and FPS. Graphics almost certainly also enter into the equation, if the cries of 360 owners belittling Wii owners purchase decisions is any indication. Also, both the Xbox (mostly the 360) and the Wii managed to get into new markets. The 360 managed to get a lot of previously non-gamers to the table--people who had before looked down on gamers as nerds or geeks. The Wii, as you point out, managed to capture the casual gamer market quite well. And obviously, both Microsoft and Sony thought there was a future in motion-based controls, given the recent releases of the Kinect and the Move respectively.

Re:Maybe in this economy... (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382532)

Most of the "serious gamers" I know play games on a PC. Though at this point I doubt most of us PC gamers want to be associated with the frat boy stereotype that perpetuates on consoles.

Actually (3, Insightful)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 3 years ago | (#34381980)

I think it could simply be that people realized that they didn't need to buy new systems to play (more) decent games. The manufacturers saw that they were certainly not making ANY significant amounts of profit of the hardware, and the existing hardware (PS2 for example) just wouldn't DIE, as developers just kept pumping out games for them. Why waste money in bringing new systems when no revitalization is needed in the industry? These are businesses after all. They won't try to fix what 'aint broke.

Re:Actually (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382042)

I still like the PS2....there were some pretty good games for it and the graphics are not all that bad, even today. In fact, I keep meaning to pick another one up so I can keep playing Dragon Quest VIII.

Re:Actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382496)

It could also be that more and more console gamers are moving to portable gaming on the DS, PSP, iPod and iPhone. It could be that a lot of the XBOX 720 R&D money has been redirected to an XBOX portable or a gaming system for Windows phones.

We'll find out soon enough. There will always be new hardware.

so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34381994)

And this is news why ? Sony and MS both have said repeatedly the next generation likely won't come about until around 2012 or so.

I've Gone Back to PC (1)

ink (4325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382006)

I'm sorry, but I can't handle 8800GT-era graphics anymore. The 360 used to look nice, but it's definitely aging, and Microsoft seems intent on going down the casual-gamer road. I started buying more titles on PC than console last year, and I've only purchased a handful this year. I know that I'm in the minority, but this supposed "10-year cycle" is just not for me.

Re:I've Gone Back to PC (3, Interesting)

javakah (932230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382110)

Indeed. Slashdot has a very, very short memory. Just a few days ago there was an article featured on the consoles being too slow.

http://games.slashdot.org/story/10/11/25/2126215/PC-Gaming-a-Generation-Ahead-of-Consoles-Says-Crytek-Boss [slashdot.org]

Although honestly, I think the larger danger to the consoles is not the PC market, but the mobile market with the iPad and such. I've been surprised at how much the iPad can actually pull off for not being just a gaming device (N.O.V.A., etc).

This article reminds me a bit of some of the early predictions where the people couldn't see the need for more than a few computers in the world. It reeks of something that will come around and bite them in the ass for not progressing quick enough.

Re:I've Gone Back to PC (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382186)

Every time a new, high-profile FPS comes out, I ask myself, "is this game better than Deus Ex?" And the answer is inevitably "no". When a PC developer uses all the superior hardware they like to circlejerk over to make a game that's more fun to play, then maybe they'll have a point. As it is, PC gaming is still generations behind PC gaming.

Re:I've Gone Back to PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382130)

I never left the PC for gaming, but I haven't upgraded in 3 years either. There is really nothing at all that has come out hardware-wise in the last few years that is worth putting down money on.

i5, i7? yawn. The newest slew of vid cards? More yawn. Something, *anything* innovative, please?

It makes sense. (1)

Cheney (1547621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382010)

Why would any company want to compete on the level that they did these past five years (excluding the Wii)?

Sony and Microsoft, pushing forward with their loss leaders.. only just now starting to etch out a good portion of the market that they're actually making money.

Of course, even after all this time, it still deserves to be said how amazingly the Wii massacred the other two. Though.. now that MS and Sony have a more.. non-hardcore offering, where will this lead them?

Only time will tell, and interesting it will be, either way!

Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (1)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382012)

[Full disclosure: The only modern system I own is the Wii.]

Nintendo seems to be the only one that needs to upgrade the capabilities of their current console. There's lots of games coming out for PS3 or XBox360 that I'd like to play, but these games are not coming out on the Wii because it's simply not powerful enough. I may pick up one of the other ones used after Christmas - not because I can't afford them new, but because I don't want my money going to the prop up companies that approve of DRM laden software and sue people for modding the hardware they sell.

Sony may have some hardware issues that need to be fixed, and Microsoft's XBox360 has some very well-known issues that should be fixed - and the next generation of the XBox series including a BD-ROM drive would be a nice touch. But as someone else mentioned, current-gen consoles can max out the resolution of most (HD)TVs that are out there, so why put a bunch of money into R&D that isn't going to affect the end experience that much?

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382134)

There isn't really anything limiting the Wii other than developers are reluctant to spent more time developing quality games for it. Other than graphics, the Wii can certainly handle most of the stuff that a PS3 or Xbox can do, it just might take a bit more time developing. There is no technical reason why Final Fantasy XIII couldn't have been ported to the Wii simply running at 480p rather than 1080p.

The biggest technical barrier in the past 3 generations of consoles have been load times. I don't care if it is only 15 seconds, it ruins any immersion in the game every time you have to hit a load screen. Even running from a HDD, Fable II lags like crazy on the 360 and sounds like a jet engine taking off if you play it with the disk.

There is no technical reason why games can't be just as fun on all 3 systems, it is only the developer's reluctance to do so that is holding them back.

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (3, Insightful)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382240)

Um, what?

The Wii has only one processor core. The Wii has a GPU capable of only ~15 million polygons/second max, and incapable of plain old bumpmapping, nevermind more complex shaders. It has a pitiful amount of memory available. Reducing the resolution of a 360 or PS3 game doesn't reduce the massive amount of shaders and effects the Wii simply could not handle. That's why games need to be completely independently developed for the Wii, it's nearly impossible to do a straight port and downgrade, simply because the limitations are so vastly different. It's a Gamecube. Surely you're not suggesting that a PS2 could play PS3 games easily at 480p as well?

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382432)

You mentioned one reason, better hardware. Do you honestly think the Wii is in the same category hardware-wise as the PS3 or Xbox360? Also, why bother when the gamers who play with the Wii are different in the large (think of your grandmother playing Wii Tennis) than the gamers who play the 360 (your brother playing Halo or Modern Warfare) or PS3. If you wanted to buy a new FPS or slick car racing game, the Wii really wouldn't enter into the discussion. It would be either PS3 or Xbox360. So if there is any reluctance, it isn't the developers so much as weak demand for a tech-reduced Wii version.

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382150)

but because I don't want my money going to the prop up companies that approve of DRM laden software and sue people for modding the hardware they sell.

Then why do you have a Wii? Nintendo is who taught Sony and MS' what they know about that.

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382152)

sig += Now is better than then.

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382222)

Bust as someone else mentioned, current gen consoles can max out the resolution of most HDTVs that are out there...

How to max out the resolution of a hdtv.

Step 1: Buy a good, high resolution camera. (Red One comes to mind, but there are others)
Step 2: Take it out into the natural world. Find something visually interesting,
Step 3. Focus, and attend to lighting.
Step 4: Press Record...

Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382352)

But as someone else mentioned, current-gen consoles can max out the resolution of most (HD)TVs that are out there, so why put a bunch of money into R&D that isn't going to affect the end experience that much?

Actually, current gen console games frequently render at less than 720p:
GTA IV runs at 640p on the PS3 [joystiq.com]
Halo 3 renders at 640p on the Xbox 360 [joystiq.com]

We are getting close to the point (if we haven't passed it already) where low-end ($50) PC GPUs outperform current consoles.

Online updates (1)

Collin (41088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382022)

Another factor is updatable firmware and OS over the internet. The console makers of this generation can fix bugs and add whole new capabilities that they could not do prior to this generation. Think of how Sony has kept the PS3 updated as a blu-ray player with compatibility fixes, adding lossless audio, 3D support, etc. Or how all the console makers have added Netflix streaming client capabilities, something that wasn't even on the horizon when these models were designed. Or how Sony and Microsoft were able to add motion control abilities. All this adds of to being able to extend the life of the current generation in ways that would have required a whole new platform before.

A good follow-up question would be: what astounding new capabilities would it take to motivate a next-gen console?

Re:Online updates (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382440)

You're pretty much right about extending the console's lifetime, but the Netflix streaming could have been done with older consoles. Just add a memory unit to a broadband internet-enabled console, and you're golden for Netflix. Dreamcast could have done it (it had a broadband adapter), along with XBox, had internet connections been up to snuff back then.

It's probably related to profitability (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382054)

It's more likely that the reason is profitability on these consoles. Other than Nintendo who released a comparatively less powerful device that was largely an evolution of the technology used in their previous generation console, Sony and Microsoft sunk a lot of money into developing the consoles and then heavily subsidized the initial costs of the devices in order to sell more of them. Microsoft also took a big hit due to quality issues with the initial version of the console which had a high failure rate due to design or manufacturing flaws.

There's no way either Sony or Microsoft could afford to release another console at this point. They both threw a lot of money at trying to beat each other without any success on either side. Microsoft could easily keep pouring money down the Xbox pit, but eventually investors will want the venture to show a profit. Sony's little empire has been eroding on all sides and they can't commit the resources to release a new console so they're stuck as well. Nintendo doesn't seem to care and it content selling Wii's for what must be a fairly ludicrous profit at this point.

Nintendo it likely to be the first to release something new, but I don't foresee them following in Microsoft or Sony's strategy. They'll probably release something comparable to the Xbox 360 or PS3 and price it such that they profit from each device sold. This would also put them in a position where more third party games can be ported to the system without a degradation in quality.

Sony and Microsoft are likely to stick with this generation for at least another two years. It probably depends how well Kinect and Move end up doing in the market. They both seem to have done better than I expected so it could be three or more years. Once they start to fall flat I imagine that they'll start moving towards something new. But they're in this position because they spent a lot of money to be the best, only to end up getting blindsided by Nintendo who realized that the game Sony and Microsoft were playing would be suicide.

Re:It's probably related to profitability (2, Interesting)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382324)

I have to agree on most of your points, and would like to add that $400+ for a console (at initial release), and even more for a modest sized HDD for said system kept people away for a while. Many of the PS3 purchases were for the blue ray functionality as much as gaming. And the 360 limited to DVD discs (since the crash and burn of HD-DVD) has held it back some. I just bought my kid a 360 this last year, waited for the RROD issues to be squared away first. I won't buy a Sony product, so PS3 isn't an option for me. As it stands, the 360 and PS3 are both passable systems, and as Nintendo has shown, playability means a lot more than uber graphics. I do with Nintendo would come out with a Wii+ or something as a second-gen device, which would be nice... even a bump to 1080p, and built in blue ray for an extra $100-150 would be a big seller, would mean a faster CPU, but minimal changes as far as compatability... Maybe an ATI or nVidia discrete graphics chipset... compatability is a must imho, though dropping the Game Cube controller ports wouldn't make me cry..

Consoles are dying (0, Troll)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382056)

the downturn in the economy has claimed consoles as a victim, which a lot of people are not sad about.

The console itself is dead. www.onlive.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382082)

There is no longer a need for game consoles. Check out www.onlive.com. I've been using it for a few months and it works great.

But they're so close! (2, Funny)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382090)

Just one more generation and we'll finally have a true HD console (one rendering at 1920x1080, not scaling up from a much lower rez). I don't want to build another gaming computer. Give me a console that can do what my current rig can do and I'll be set.

Reason is games... (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382098)

... take too long to make today because hardware power has increased asset production time exponentially. So it's obvious why console generations are no longer 5 years, its pretty much approaching 3+ years between a game and its sequel.

Doing a modern AAA game takes at lest 3 or more years to do it right, and games that are developed in 2 years often show it in lack of quality and the use of rehashed concepts ad-nauseum.

Not to mention all the money and years spent wasted in failed attempts and false starts that is hidden from view.

Re:Reason is games... (1)

chromozone (847904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382474)

"take too long to make today because hardware power has increased asset production time exponentially. So it's obvious why console generations are no longer 5 years, its pretty much approaching 3+ years between a game and its sequel."

Unless its Half Life 3 then the wait is at least three presidents

The next logical step (1)

mtinsley (1283400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382220)

Considering all of the things consoles can do (watch movies, browse the internet, online play, etc.) the only thing that's left is to just turn them into PCs.

Sony and others... (1)

teaserX (252970) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382230)

....will end the current cycle and release new consoles with 3-D television support once those become widely adopted. Until then there is no reason to release new hardware while current systems can be updated (software and/or firmware) by the user. Once this occurs a new cycle of content will be released including all of your old favorites (read same old shit) now in 3-D.

Disclaimer: I'm not actually from the future. This my best guess

Re:Sony and others... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382266)

Or, if 3D television ends up being a short-lived fad, they won't.

It could be that they're waiting to see if 3D TV takes off, but I suspect the real reason is they're waiting for the economy to improve.

Don't forget the economy (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382242)

It really sucks, and is not getting much better anytime soon. New consoles are very expensive, and a $150 - $200 controller + game combo is a much easier investment than $400 + games + misc crap you end up buying with a new console (e.x: they rarely come with the cables you want). Don't forget that retailers love to throw mandatory bundles at early adopters. So a new console can easily cost between $500 - $600 after all is said and done.

Then you've got to consider the economics of the hardware itself. Both the 360 and PS3 took a while to become anything but money sinks. A lot longer than many expected (more so in the case of the 360). While the original Xbox was surprisingly solid and well-designed, if bulky, the 360 was rushed through development. It was released with a lot of stupid, stupid, stupid design flaws that took forever to deal with. Apparently the key people that made the good decisions in '99 - '01 weren't around to prevent the money-losing disaster that was the 360. (Side note: The lack of a standard hard drive was to me, the first sign that Redmond had bungled the project on the managerial level, and bad things were on the horizon)

The PS3 was designed to get Blu-Ray into your living room, and consequently, the initial cost was absolutely absurd. Sony's response amounted to "Deal with it. You'll pay it."

People largely didn't. It took a while for the platform to pick up steam.

The Cell processor didn't become the industry-changing force Sony hoped. Sure, IBM uses it for some stuff, but the development costs weren't amortized over multiple platforms to the degree Sony had imagined. It was supposed to show up in all sorts of consumer electronics, but that never happened. They even offered the chip to Apple when it was getting ready to ditch the PowerPC, and Steve Jobs turned them down for technical reasons.

By now the Xbox 360 hardware has been stabilized - the bugs finally squashed. The 360 and PS3 have been value-engineered to be much cheaper to build. Both Sony and Microsoft are finally able to make the kind of money they were hoping to rake in a long time ago. While new consoles are undoubtably under development, Microsoft and Sony's investors are probably not interested in them losing tons more on another launch in a crappy economy.

It doesnt take 2 brain cells ..... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382252)

.... to make certain components of those systems upgradeable. say, like cpu. say, memory. say, maybe gpu. even if the upgrades would be limited, they would still allow more wiggle room for the console owners, and also help progress of both gaming and consoles with new generation upgradeable items. because the items would only bring processing power/memory/whatever, it wouldnt require any significant changes.

they could use oem parts, they could do their chips themselves. in any case, they would be able to sell more frequently, rather than the spikes they are having every release, and then dying out.

and that would help the gaming progress faster than it is doing now. we are all waiting 5 year cycles of consoles to catch up to go up a notch even in pc gaming, because all developers have to accommodate consoles too.

is it possible... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382260)

Is it possible that a down economy won't support a new offering in the numbers necessary to be defined a success? Why put out a console in the middle of a recession? You'd just have to deal with all the slashdot articles saying it didn't sell as well as the last model, which was introduced in boom times.

Tired of "... Is Dead" headlines! (1)

crevistontj (1032976) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382272)

I know it's supposed to sound dramatic but it just comes across as sensationalistic and trite.

Re:Tired of "... Is Dead" headlines! (1)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382422)

Are you just tired or are you dead tired? :)

10 year cycle (1)

Lt.Hawkins (17467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382280)

I have no citation, but I remember when the PS3 first came out, Sony admitted to having a 10 year cycle. I was skeptical at the time, but it looks like they'll blow past 5 years at least.

Longer development cycles (1)

Cloud K (125581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382284)

Take a look at how long games are taking to make nowadays, a couple of examples being GT5 and FFXIII.

They probably needed to slow down the release of new consoles to prevent "Duke Nukem Forever Syndrome" where nobody would release their games because there'd always be new technology just around the corner.

It's the economy, stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34382350)

The obvious answer is that console makers have realized that a significant amount of people aren't willing to plunk down $300 on a new console with the job market the way it is. Any new console represents a major investment in the development, and fragments your current set of developers and buyers into two markets for a number of years. With nobody willing to stick their neck out, but at the same time each having a profitable piece of the existing market, why risk future sales to anyone holding off for the next thing?

games on the cloud? (1)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382396)

Brilliant. Why do I need a console hooked to my television when the cloud can magically render high performance 3D graphics on my television?

Seems simple enough. (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382408)

An upgrade to a PS4 now would cost huge amounts to develop, would have to be sold at a loss, wouldn't offer an immediate and significant improvement in graphics or gameplay, and would be followed by a new offering from Microsoft and Nintendo fairly quickly. And most of all, the success of the Wii showed that you don't need the biggest processor to make money.

Personally I see two paths to the next generation. One is a game that can't be made 3D without either a hardware upgrade or a graphics downgrade, combined with a super-secret new console that we don't hear about until it's almost on the shelves. Obviously won't happen until 3D TV's are common. The other is the Wii being pushed to slightly above 360/PS3 hardware levels, with a price similar to current PS3/360 prices. The former path is probably more likely and will result in a higher-quality next generation, the latter would probably deal a serious blow to the nextgen Microsoft and Sony offerings. I suppose if neither happens in the next few years a more typical generation movement would happen.

Ahead of their times... (1)

hpa (7948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34382506)

The real reason is probably that the PS3 and Xbox360 were a bit ahead of their time -- they both cost too much (except for early adopters), and were HD at a time where the installed base of HDTV was pretty much limited to early adopters. As the consumer space has caught up, and the manufacturers have cut costs, they are now taking over the Wii-dominated market. In other words, the next generation is already here.

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