Disrupting the Console

Disrupting the Console
 
 

I’ve been a console gamer since I first got my hands on a PlayStation 2. Before that I used to play games on my Amiga 500, until 1995 when our family got our first PC - which from memory was a trusty Pentium Pro 150Mhz with a whopping 8MB of RAM and a roomy 1GB hard drive. But from a gaming perspective, the never-ending saga of having to upgrade video cards, sound cards, RAM and processors every 6 months just to be able to play the latest titles saw me convert to consoles. Since then, I’ve never looked back.

And it’s because of this that the recent announcements made by Sony and Microsoft have got me slightly concerned. Within the next year, both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 will get major hardware upgrades in the middle of what we term “this generation” of console. Just a few years after they launched.

Remember that the previous PlayStation 3 had an impressive ten year life-span, and many will agree that we saw some of the best games for that console towards the end of its reign. Titles like The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V and Bioshock: Infinite came at a time when developers had had the time to really discover and push the limits of what an ageing PS3 could deliver. Agreed, the PS3 had a facelift with a slimmer model release midway through, but the core engine of the console didn’t change.

This new proposed hardware update goes against what console manufacturers have been doing for a long time: selling powerful, future-proofed machines at a significant loss, with the intent of making a profit in the long term through selling games for five or more years. Consumers had the security of knowing that their investment would be worth it, and developers also knew they could dedicate resources to that technology for years, rather than months.

So why have both Sony and Microsoft (and Nintendo to a lesser extent, but that’s a different story) decided to change the rules? The details of the new consoles, currently titled Neo for the PlayStation 4 update, and Project Scorpio for Xbox One, haven’t been fully announced yet. But so far it appears they will include better processors and the ability to output 4K video to cater for the slowly increasing supply of super high-definition televisions on the market. No doubt the emergence of VR is also playing a factor, giving an extra performance boost for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR and Microsoft’s HoloLens technology (and possibly Xbox partnering with Oculus as well).

So it appears that no-one quite knows how all of this will pan out. Microsoft have gone on record and proclaimed that there will be no Project Scorpio exclusives in terms of game titles - and that the only reason to upgrade will be if you own a 4K capable television. Whether this will be the case - considering the competitive nature of needing to have “the best looking video game” or the “most immersive experience” in an already crowded entertainment market - only time will tell. We know even less about Sony’s Neo. Sony was intentionally very quiet about their new console at the E3 Expo over in Los Angeles recently.

Apparently Sony are telling developers that Neo won't be allowed to segregate the audience between hardware owners, but also that all releases after October 2016 must be Neo-compatible. Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment has said that "[The Neo] is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4. We will be selling both [versions] through the life cycle. All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4."

Which is good news, considering Sony have shipped 40 million PS4 units in under three years. But let’s face it, if Sony did change their stance in two years time and say that triple A titles will now only appear on Neo, then they are leaving early adopters in the dust with “old” tech. Or, as mentioned before, with a competitive gaming market where only the best technology wins, maybe developers will shift their focus to what the new boxes can deliver and treat the original PS4 or Xbox One as sub-standard, perhaps delivering a lesser port of the high-end product?

Being a dedicated console gamer for years, I’m going to struggle to decide whether I line up for the Neo or Scorpio. Do I try and support the original PS4 and Xbox One, in the hopes that by the time 1080 HD is out the door, the proper next generation console will be out? Or do I cave in and upgrade impulsively, like I normally do?

If this mid-generation console war heats up, and follows the current mobile phone market, where Apple and Samsung release new hardware every year, I might even consider going back to my old PC gaming ways. But I seriously hope not.

What are your thoughts on the Neo or Scorpio and are you worried about your current hardware?




 

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Comments Comments (25)

 
Posted by Outlaw213
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 11:26 AM
1
I'm pretty neutral about it to be honest. I'm interested to see how it'll work out but I still have my concerns about the whole thing too.

For example, Sony has always released a new console after 6 years of the previous console. So if the Neo is released this year (3rd year of PS4) does that mean we will get the next gen upgrade three years after the Neo? Which means three consoles in 6 years.

Ps4 in 2013
PS4 Neo in 2016
PS5 in 2019

How will this work for Microsoft, if they release Scorpio in December 2017, how long till they do their next gen Xbox?
 
 
 
Posted by M-to-the-T
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 11:41 AM
1
Interesting times indeed. I usually wait a year or so before I jump into the "next gen", will be doing the same here.
Just need to accept that tech is humming along at a much faster rate than it used to I suppose, gamers should be excited none the less I feel.
 
 
 
Posted by ActualTats
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 12:13 PM
2
Good article. I will probably wait and see how things pan out with the Scorpio before jumping on board. Although Sony and Microsoft say that there will be no exclusivity now (in regards to games) I can't help but think that this will only be applicable for a couple of years, maybe even less.

I think this is the main driving factor for me to consider upgrading, the "just in case" in me. Although I guess I could wait for that day to roll around before upgrading...

It will be interesting to see what happens.
 
 
 
Posted by Bunnny
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 12:28 PM
2
Thanks for penning my feels.


On the whole.. I don't like this...
 
 
 
Posted by scotteffone
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 1:09 PM
1
Personally I believe Sony are releasing the NEO to improve on the non-gaming experience of the console. To support 4K apps such as YouTube and Netflix and improve the dashboard and multitasking which is not a bad thing as it is no where near as smooth as it should be.

If it was significantly improving the games and splitting the user base I would be seriously surprised. I feel like it's a glorified add on much like how you could turn a Mega Drive into this (not counting the 32x...)... http://segaretro.org/images/3/34/MDAdd-ons.jpg

TL;DR - New console improving non-game experience. Games will play the same on both consoles.
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 1:31 PM
1
The never ending saga of upgrading parts of your rig every 6 months to be able to play the latest games.... is a very outdated concept.
 
 
 
Posted by sakuraba
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 1:44 PM
1
It sucks, it kind of puts me off gaming .
 
 
 
Posted by AdamC
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 3:20 PM
1
This article read my mind. Scary
 
 
 
Posted by MonkeyMan
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 5:34 PM
1
As someone who is only now getting serious about getting a current gen console I'm feeling a bit weird about this disruption. Like I want to get a ps4 but I feel the need to hold off and see what the deal is with the neo because it will probably be better
 
 
 
Posted by drunk_monk
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 5:49 PM
2
Pretty similar thoughts to you Angus.

They say all games will run on both but one of the zelda games ran on new 3DS and old 3DS, except was borderline unplayable on old 3DS,

How long until a game launches broken as hell on one of the 4 models? Also the Scorpio is a solid upgrade, that power will be doing something.

We won't know until we see it first hand but I'll cave and upgrade because I have no will power.
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 6:15 PM
-2
Well pc gaming will grow as people realize they don't have to pay for services that crash more than free ones, and it's cheaper to get a pc than a console that destroy's it....
 
 
 
Posted by ThatUndeadLegacy
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 6:16 PM
-2
27 July 2016, 01:31 PM Reply to OriginalSin
The never ending saga of upgrading parts of your rig every 6 months to be able to play the latest games.... is a very outdated concept.
nobody told you to upgrade xD but at least pc gamer's have the choice to upgrade to what they want, not force fed outdated things.
 
 
 
Posted by ChieftaiNZ
On Wednesday 27 Jul 2016 10:15 PM
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Simply put..

If you give enough f**ks to upgrade console to Scorpio or Neo so you can have a better looking game, by a PC, as then you are able to playeven MORE games.
 
 
 
Posted by souljah685
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 12:47 AM
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Nice read got me thinking about where the gaming industry is going ESP with technology upgrading every second... Personally I wait couple years before I buy the new gen console only because in it's first year or so there are many bugs etc before they upgrade again to fix the problems
 
 
 
Posted by BlakeyNZ
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 5:58 AM
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I completely agree with the article. It does make me think whats the point of the Scorpio if theres no exclusives. Why have the power and not use it. Unless games will have a upgraded edition for Scorpio that you can put in a normal xbox one version and you download a souped up version its pointless right? It will be the most powerfull console but if thats out for 10 years whats to stop Sony realeasing a PS5 with 10tflps a few years after scorpio?
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 8:43 AM
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28 July 2016, 05:58 AM Reply to BlakeyNZ
I completely agree with the article. It does make me think whats the point of the Scorpio if theres no exclusives. Why have the power and not use it. Unless games will have a upgraded edition for Scorpio that you can put in a normal xbox one version and you download a souped up version its pointless right? It will be the most powerfull console but if thats out for 10 years whats to stop Sony realeasing a PS5 with 10tflps a few years after scorpio?
I don't think you understand how it works. They won't have to make new versions, remasters or exclusives for the new console editions. The games that are available for current consoles are already capable of being displayed at higher resolutions but are being restricted by the developers so they run smoothly on the current console's specs.
The Neo and Scorpio builds will just allow the developers to code in auto-detection of which system you are running the game on when the game is run and set the graphical output accordingly.
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 9:00 AM
1
Essentially, the only people who will really benefit from buying the newer console versions will be:

A. Those who already have a 4K screen to make use of the higher resolutions.

B. Those who notice frame rate drops while playing graphically intensive games.

If you don't fall into one of those categories then it's probably not worth your money to upgrade.
 
 
 
Posted by ChieftaiNZ
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 10:27 AM
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28 July 2016, 09:00 AM Reply to OriginalSin
Essentially, the only people who will really benefit from buying the newer console versions will be:

A. Those who already have a 4K screen to make use of the higher resolutions.

B. Those who notice frame rate drops while playing graphically intensive games.

If you don't fall into one of those categories then it's probably not worth your money to upgrade.
I still think Gamers thinking of upgrading to the Neo or Scorpio would benefit buying a PC with similar specs as then they will have have more games to play they otherwise wouldn't. You aren't missing out on any games if you don't buy a Scorpio or a Neo so whats the point?
 
 
 
Posted by OriginalSin
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 10:33 AM
1
28 July 2016, 10:27 AM Reply to ChieftaiNZ
I still think Gamers thinking of upgrading to the Neo or Scorpio would benefit buying a PC with similar specs as then they will have have more games to play they otherwise wouldn't. You aren't missing out on any games if you don't buy a Scorpio or a Neo so whats the point?
Points A and B are the point.

I agree though, a similar spec PC is likely to be a very tempting option for a lot of people. Once you add in much cheaper games, no subscription paywall for MP, etc. etc. it's probably on par with or cheaper than what a console gamer would spend over a 7 year generation, it just has a higher startup cost.
 
 
 
Posted by Wozza
On Thursday 28 Jul 2016 12:06 PM
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It's not really anything new for consoles. The original PlayStation started life as a cd add on for the Super Nintendo. The Megadrive had the 32x and Mega CD. N64 had a RAM pack, and we were supposed to get the N64DD.

Hasn't really been anything like that for the last few generations though.

Will be interesting to see if these actually get any support as they aren't worth supporting if only a small percentage of gamers have them.
 
 
 
Posted by I3ridgeI3urner
On Friday 29 Jul 2016 2:34 PM
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I do not see the comparison to mobile phone sales/upgrading being applicable. I recall from the very in-depth coverage Digital Foundry gave to this topic months ago, that there was some evidence that PC chip technology had been slowing down, with more years between major leaps forward in terms of chip size and the number of transistors that can be on said chips. I assume they meant to imply that mobile chip technology and manufacturing processes had not hit the same barriers; making upgrading more likely. Phones can also be a business tool and offset as a business expense or purchased on a plan; two different markets entirely. If anything MS and Sony want to avoid the pitfalls that come with marketing a totally new console. MS really screwed the pooch on announcing the X1 and Sony shot themselves in the foot with PS3, both having been successful with 360 and PS2. With these new intermediary systems, people are less likely to jump ship mid gen as they are already invested in their current system, so the Neo and Scorpio present a lower risk option to MS and Sony.
 
 
 
Posted by xBOOZEMONEYx
On Friday 29 Jul 2016 3:17 PM
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I think that both consoles are making a mistake. It is too soon to bring about new hardware. That being said, people are saying that Sony can just trump the scorpio a couple of years later, well what will stop Microsoft from coming out with another new console? The answer is nothing. Microsoft has been known to do pretty nice trade in programs to get their new hardware out. Sony does the same.
 
 
 
intristan
Posted by intristan
On Saturday 30 Jul 2016 8:36 AM
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That's the reason I changed to a PC after ps4 came out. At least I can upgrade a PC slowly over time and still play all the games I previously owned. Tired of always building up a decent collection on a console and then having to start all over again when the next version comes out. Or have to have 2 consoles hooked up to play various games.
 
 
 
Posted by stutank
On Saturday 30 Jul 2016 2:09 PM
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I find it pretty frustrating that early adopters are punished by this kind of antics from the console market. I'd be pretty annoyed after buying a new console to find they're bringing out a better version. I got bitten by the new 3ds after getting a 3ds XL but theres low numbers of games needing the hardware it has so no big deal. I tend to hold back and stick to pc gaming until the older consoles start to drop in price. Got my xbox 360 for $100. Mainly to play some exclusive games I can't get for pc. Microsoft has finally awoken to releasing on all platforms so my need for a newer console should be a lot less.
 
 
 
Posted by maxnaughty
On Tuesday 16 Aug 2016 11:06 AM
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I'll definitely buy a Scorpio, but don't have a 4K TV yet so don't know about the Xbox One S...