The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on April 21, 2011

The new consoles are coming! The new consoles are coming!! Oh, joyous day! Isn’t it a great time to be a gamer?

I don’t think I can possibly understand why so many gamers are so obsessed with a new batch of consoles coming out as soon as possible. I have a pretty good idea why people were flipping out over the rumour of a new Nintendo console being announced at E3, with amazing HD graffix and the like: most gamers are still sore that Nintendo decided to target people other than them, and have tugging it to the idea of an HD Zelda since 2008, really. Maybe I’m just an uninformed armchair analyst, but I just can’t see a conservative company like Nintendo doing a complete 180 on their million-selling strategy, but who knows with them most of the time (another batch of rumours says the thing also has a gigantic touch screen controller, which is kind of neat, and more in line with they’ve been working on since the DS, but on the other hand, doesn’t make much sense financially). But that’s almost a separate issue at this point.

But what about the other two? To me, their output at this point is still capable of quite a bit. But then again, I’m not a developer having to work with them. On the other hand, neither are all of the people on the Internet I see clamoring for them. About the only people in the biz who seems to have hinted at wanting a new generation to come soon is, as far as I know, UbiSoft, and like fuck do I think they know what’s best for anyone. I have yet to hear any actual developers talk about how hard it is to develop games for the PS3 and 360 with all their limitations. I have yet to hear of any tantalizing game ideas we’re missing out on because, dammit, these boxes just don’t have the juice. Most of the people actually pushing these things to their limits are either doing it in a low-key setting (like downloadable games with, let’s say, less than HD quality graphics), or are doing it on the PC. Most console developers seem content to churn out essentially the same games over and over again, and something tells me the people behind Final Fantasy and God of War are having to scale back their creativity because of the lack of console horsepower.

For most gamers, I imagine, it’s just early adopter syndrome (EAS): they get bored with their technology fairly quickly, and always something biggerer and betterer. For me, the problem is…I don’t like to spend money. And I haven’t seen any evidence that we’re missing out on anything (if there are, though, I’d love to read about it!). But even if the latter is fulfilled, I can’t even say for sure I’d be excited about new consoles. Part of it is, as mentioned before, I hate spending money, especially on gadgetry with minimal utility (hell, even shit that I could find invaluable, like one of those portable devices with Internet hook-up and everything, I still would feel guilty about buying, because I’m fucking frugal). But as other things vie for my time (like maintaining this blog, for example!), games have to be finding more and more interesting hooks to keep me coming back. And you know what? High-tech audio/visual stuff just ain’t it for me. Or, at least, not on their own.

Consoles are a different business from the games they play, oddly enough. If they become more or less interchangeable, then what’s the point of there being more than one? Yet, they need to have similar structures and capabilities in order to keep the publishers interested in working on them, as Nintendo has learned. So in the end, most features on future consoles that aren’t simply upgrades to what the current crop already has will often have to err on the side of meaninglessness (multimedia stuff like Netflix and shit like Home), as not to alienate other publishers. There are some directions they could go that would allow for some interesting directions in the future: manufacturing the console for a greater emphasis on downloadable content (increasing the harddrive sizes for example), to the point where you can buy even full, retail games through their service. An even greater on getting as much bang for their buck out of what their console can do would be another good advance (Microsoft is already testing the waters there, apparently, by doing trials with game discs that have had extra space freed up through a console update), so we don’t ‘need’ to go back to the well so early. Certainly, consoles should become more adaptable in the future…you know, like computers.

None of those ideas are particularly revolutionary, though. I don’t know what kind of new console features would really make me go ‘Wow’ at this point. A lot of it, to my untrained ear, just sounds like technobabble, which I have no interest in. This is, of course, why I’m not on the boards who decide such things.

The next couple of years should be interesting.


One Response to “”

  1. […] to the game, what with the TCAFness and all, but yes I know I was wrong about this. Well, at least the part where I wasn’t expecting a new Nintendo console. Well, it’s […]

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