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PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

Josh Clark
Comment, DICE, Epic, Games articles, Microsoft, Next-gen, Nintendo, Opinion, Sony, Wii 2

PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

With all of the rumour mills spitting out endless mutterings regarding whatever Nintendo are planning, not to mention a number of industry luminaries having practically come out and begged for a generational jump in the past month, Josh Clark asks if we really need another generation of consoles right now.

As dedicated gamers, there are few things more exciting to us than getting our calloused fingers on a shiny new console. Scrabbling at cardboard flaps, throwing styrofoam packaging over our shoulders, discarding hefty instruction manuals just to get to that block of plastic and solder at the bottom is one of life's finest pleasures. And it seems that leading game developer DICE share in that sense of giddy anticipation, urging hardware manufacturers to usher in the next generation of home consoles. As Matt reported earlier this month, DICE's Patrick Bach has stated that Battlefield 3 would scale onto a next-gen console, pushing current PC technology as it does to the very limit of what it can do. But are we as gamers really ready to dig deep into our pockets and shell out for another console?

PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

Bach's statement was made with the best intentions, of that I have no doubt; DICE have developed a product they are excited about, and want gamers to experience it in its best possible state, but the truth is that Battlefield 3 will be released on current generation consoles, to the detriment of nothing but cosmetic value. So the sound of that rocket-propelled grenade screaming overhead might not be as crisp as it would be on Microsoft's next machine. So the bloom effects might not be as ambient as Sony's Playstation 4 could make them. What will undoubtedly remain in tact are the asssuredly chunky controls, the excellent set-pieces, and the game-changing multiplayer DICE are famed for. And really, what more do we need?

Back in November 2005, while those with a little more disposable income were clawing feverishly at shop counters for their futuristic, high definition Xbox 360s, I was at home having the time of my life with Sony's greatest console to date: the Playstation 2. 2006 might have seen 360 owners lapping up the lush visuals of Rare's Kameo, but I had Okami. For every headshot landed in the next-gen Call of Duty 2, I had thrown four times as many grenades in Black. I didn't invest in Microsoft's little white box for another two years, because I simply didn't feel the need to.

PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

It's no secret that the longer companies are able to develop for a platform, the better they get at it. Never has this been more evident than during the Playstation 2's ten year lifecycle. Sure, Timesplitters will always be a fantastic game, but consider the advancements made in the next two iterations of Free Radical's beloved franchise and it is easy to see why sticking with a platform pays gamers dividends.

Skirting around the “Videogames as Art” debate that will continue to rage indefinitely, Limbo is an enthralling, emotive, and brilliantly simple platformer developed by new indie heroes Playdead and, HD aside, would have fared just as well as a sixth generation title as it has on Microsoft's Live Arcade marketplace. Smaller studios, without the budget or manpower of developers like EA or Bethesda, rely on innovation in order to shift units. Fortresscraft, the latest indie sensation is outselling even the biggest titles on Xbox Live, because of its focus on (almost) original gameplay, and not just the next glitzy shooter.

PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

The point I'm attempting to make is that in the absence of limitless graphical potential, originality and clever manipulation of existing assets are the only tools left available to developers, and it can often lead to some moments of true brilliance. The recently released Battlefield 3 trailer showcases unprecedented graphical immersion, but I'm yet to see anything that really distances it from the Modern Warfare series, and in fact, it seems to have taken more than a few scripting cues from its billion-dollar nemesis. Infinity Ward know all about pushing a console to its limits, it was of course that very company that managed to wrestle the World War 2 FPS monopoly from EA's Medal of Honor series with the hugely impressive Call of Duty.

Why then, are some of the larger developers so eager to see an eighth generation of consoles hit store shelves? Is it to enable improvements in gameplay, or is it simply to add that little extra shine to their military first-person shooters? I for one believe it to be the latter, with AAA titles in particular focusing on a greater amount of graphical detail than challenging any of the given genre's conventions.

PlayStation 4? No Thanks! - Why We Don't Need Another Console Generation Just Yet

Epic's Rod Fergusson, for example, has recently accused gamers of taking the graphical improvements in their flagship franchise for granted, explaining that it is only when the first Gears of War is played alongside its newer counterparts that the first game's shortcomings become apparent. Why then, you ask, are Epic placing so much emphasis on graphical improvement when upon reflection, pixel-polish ranks so low on our measure of a good game? It is an excellent question, and one I don't have an answer to. Gears of War remains one of gamings greats because of its revolutionary cover system, not because Dominic's five o clock shadow could be rendered in stunning detail.

It is hard to believe that Microsoft's second home console is now approaching its sixth birthday, and with Nintendo releasing a steady stream of information regarding their follow up to the Wii, an eighth generation announcement cannot be far away, but I urge gamers and developers alike to treasure the next few years with their console of choice, be it the Playstation 3, the Xbox 360, and even the Wii, because if the last generation told us anything, it is that the best is yet to come.

We know y'all have opinions on this one, so get involved and let us know how you feel in the comments box below. Would you like to see a new generation sooner rather than later? Do you think developers need to be given time now that they've arguably reached a peak to make the most of it? Does the rapidity of PC tech progression mean consoles should emerge sooner? Let us know what you think.

Add a comment13 comments
carl wilson  Apr. 21, 2011 at 20:13

Maybe it's also worth considering that with Move and Kinect shifting punters into a new(ish) direction and breaking sales records, perhaps the console companies aren't in a rush to release entirely new consoles that'll probably be losing them money for each unit sold. Unless of course they're just testing the waters for the next gen...

Gunn  Apr. 21, 2011 at 20:33

I'm still wondering if MS or Sony will be first out with the next gen

Andy  Apr. 21, 2011 at 20:48

I'm not really too bothered about them bringing out the next gen sooner rather than later, just as long as it is backwardly compatible. My PS3 collection is pretty large and I can still see me wanting to play Demon's Souls (or Dark Souls) in 5 years time.

Bob  Apr. 21, 2011 at 20:50

Nintendo, I'm 99% sure, will be the first cole to move onto eighth-gen. The wii is falling fast, and I think that they're next console NEEDS to come first.

Steve  Apr. 21, 2011 at 21:08

I couldn't agree more with your article. As much as I like to collect computers and consoles, I think it's too early for next-gen consoles.

I think that apart from all of the valid points raised in your article, it's also worth remembering that across the globe, countries are still in or coming out of recession. Disposable income is not what it used to be and this could be reflected in the number of early adopters of new and expensive technology.

As another poster has mentioned, I can see people being very reluctant to upgrade their machine if there is no backward compatibility next time round as well.

Felix Kemp  Apr. 21, 2011 at 21:27

Great article, mate. And I agree wholeheartedly. There's a lot more left in this generation than people think.

a dude  Apr. 21, 2011 at 22:14

When the next gen is clearly slated for 2014 (3 years from now), it makes me wonder: who teh hell wrote the headline for this article? The only one coming out before that is nintendo, and really, who cares about consoles for children and old people? Article fail.

Matt Gardner  Apr. 21, 2011 at 22:28

More of a reaction to high profile developers pushing for another generation rather than the Wii 2 rumours.

And play MadWorld or NMH or Resi 4 or Sin and Punishment or House of the Dead Overkill or Dead Space: Extraction and try telling me those games are for 'children and old people'.

Sure, Nintendo marketed the console as family friendly (they've always strived to fulfil that remit, this is nothing new) but to dismiss the Wii (or indeed any Ninty console) out of hand is foolishness.

Claimh Solais  Apr. 22, 2011 at 08:58

A new console is needed, the other are soo old tech, they struggle with modern games and have nothing to offer for the future.

Scott  Apr. 22, 2011 at 09:52

I find it kind of childish that the only person to respond with a negative comment to this article actually hasnt got the cajones to use a real name.

I agree completely with the authors article, we at present really do not require another money sink as yet

Scotts boyfriend  Apr. 22, 2011 at 11:12

I find it even more childish that somebody should post using the name 'Scott' and think that doing so makes his point more valid than the person who posts using the name 'Claimh'?

Yes, thats right, we all know exactly who you are now and should have to listen to what you say.

Anyway, I agree with Claimh. Next generation please. This generation has been going on for longer than any other generation of consoles, and it shows as the games we're getting these days are all stagnant. All very samey, there is very little innovation in anything new.

A new generation will open up new possibilities, allow more creativity and open up games to bigger and better things.

And please dont lump the Wii in this generation, it is clearly last generation, aka PS2/xbox/gamecube. From what I've seen, the new Wii will barely be current gen.

Brendan Griffiths  Apr. 22, 2011 at 12:11

Great first article Josh, welcome to the team btw.

Yeah, I'm not ready for the next gen yet, hell I'm not even close to finishing half the ace games on my 'to do' list. I'm gonna kiss summer goodbye when I get Fallout New Vegas for example, never mind Skyrim.

Apart from the visual leap a next-gen would provide I can't see anyone doing anything different with games yet as most devs just aren't making the effort.

Look at the Kinect and PS Move. Great pieces of tech that could really try something new. But no, we've got Dance Central, Sports Champions and Killzone 3 as the only great releases so far.

The last games of a generation usually throw up a few classics like Josh said anyway. Okami especially.

Jonathan Lester  Apr. 22, 2011 at 13:58

Time to join in the love fest! Great article, Josh, and welcome on board.

I especially agree with your point about originality. Crytek etc might like 8GB of RAM to play with, but first, they need to learn the difference between a game looking good because of flashy feature sets... and looking good due to imaginative art direction and style.

Okami looks better than Crysis 2. Not because of its engine, but because it's an incredibly beautiful experience that pushes the bar of imagination, not hardware specs.

Naturally that's just scratching the surface. It's gameplay - not graphics - that ultimately matters to most of us, and reaching a hardware ceiling will force developers (and their publishers) to focus on the experience rather than the visuals.


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