We don't need the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4
It's an inevitable truth that we will see new gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony sometime in late 2013. My view may be the minority, but I don't think we need a new Xbox or PlayStation console, unlike some people in the industry. I'm sure a lot of gamers want a new console just because it's something new to own, but I have a few problems with new consoles and the argument for them. Before you completely write me off, just let me explain my point of view.
IGN just wrote an article asking if this console generation (the longest ever) has damaged gaming. To briefly summarize it, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot was quoted saying, "We need new consoles. At the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit. I hope next time they will come more often [...] Transitions are the best times, are the best ways, to make all of our creators take more risks and do different things. When a console is out for a long time ... you don't take as much risks on totally new IPs because even if they are good, they don't sell as well."
While IGN points out both sides, they ultimately side with Guillemot and want new consoles soon. First off, I wholeheartedly disagree with Guillemot, and for the most part, the IGN point of view. In no way does this console generation lasting from 2005 til now hurt gaming. Yes, Nintendo has released the Wii U just five years after the Wii, but the Wii U catches Nintendo up to the current consoles graphics-wise, while introducing a new gaming peripheral -- and one that Microsoft and Sony will try to replicate. Also, Nintendo has always stuck to a five-to-six year cycle for their consoles, but they generally take more chances with creativity. From the get-go, Microsoft and Sony wanted this console generation to last 10 years, and even seven years into it, we're still seeing games improve dramatically in the graphics department (like Halo 4). Developers and publishers knew about the 10-year plan going in, so to blame less new IPs on that is ridiculous. How do you explain the hype around The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls if new IPs don't sell well when a console is out a long time?
Maybe there's less new IPs because they rehash already established games. We keep getting Call of Duty, Madden, Resident Evil, and Sonic games year after year. Ubisoft is also guilty of this with Assassin's Creed, Just Dance, and to a lesser extent Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow 6. Ubisoft does a better job than most companies of introducing new IP, but these consoles aren't to blame for companies not taking chances. New IPs like Dishonored and Journey have done particularly well. Maybe your new IPs just need to be better. An established IP won't sell any better if it's not good.
And let's stop trying to pretend that you want a new console generation so you can take risks on new IPs. It comes down to money. You think that a new console will have more people buying your games on that console, but that's a really odd way of looking at things, considering almost every gamer I know owns a 360 or PS3. If an IP is good, it will sell. Simple as that. I understand new IPs are a risk financially, but that doesn't change with a new console. If anything, if a larger population owns the current consoles, the odds of success are higher.
Another problem with rushing the PS4 and Xbox 720 to consumers is something that we are all aware of. The economy is not in the best of places right now. The prices of games aren't going to drop below what they're currently at, and could potentially get more expensive with DLC, peripherals like Skylanders, and just a price increase to keep up with the cost of making a AAA title. Also, even with the PS3 and Xbox 360 high prices at launch, they still sold at a loss. Let's not pretend that Microsoft and Sony are at a financial high point in their history -- even IGN's article admits the companies' struggles. The old cycle that produced a new console generation every five to six years is outdated. Technological advances -- specifically in gaming -- advanced really quickly from the 90s to the releases of the 360 and PS3 in 2005. Now, technology is still advancing, but gaming is in a good place right now. We're still seeing that developers -- like 343 Industries with Halo 4 -- can squeeze more visually out of the current console generation. How much can the graphics really improve? With new components and hardware, the next wave of consoles will be able to handle more, but are we that desperate for a minor improvement? And are we willing to shell out over $350 for the base models of these consoles?
Even more disturbing is if gaming falls back into the trend of releasing new consoles every five years. Used game sales is already something complained about by publishers -- and we've heard rumors that a possible fix to that is that you'll need to purchase a new game code to play a pre-owned game. And what if the consoles do away with backwards compatibility? I know I can't afford to keep upgrading to newer consoles, and I'm sure a lot of people are in my shoes, as well. And didn't the 360 sell 750 thousand units on Black Friday week?
GTA V will release on the 360 and PS3, instead of waiting for a new console.
There's the crowd that will argue that PC gaming always looks better, and you should always be upgrading your gaming PC to get the latest graphics. Once again, graphics will only take the gaming industry so far. If games keep getting rushed out before they're done, will more realistic shadows, reflections and bright colors make up for lackluster games? Madden 06 for the 360 launch looked better, but the game was gutted compared to its Xbox and PS2 counterpart. Resident Evil 6 looks good, but we all know how that turned out. Then there's the mobile gaming problem. While I'm not of the mindset that mobile gaming (iPads and such) is going to replace traditional console gaming, it is a reason to hold off a bit longer on the next Xbox and PlayStation. We need to get people hungry for a new console. I know any new console will sell out if released next year, but we shouldn't measure success by that. Unless money is all that we care about...
I don't see the need for a new Xbox and PlayStation console right now. I'd much rather have developers and publishers get more creative and produce better games. It's not about the hardware, it's about the software, and developers are still proving that with this generation. As much as I respect Guillemot, if he and people with that mindset think new consoles will solve the decline in the gaming industry, then they're going to be disappointed. There's no reason a new IP can't perform and sell well on the current generation, and I'm quite frankly tired of hearing excuses like this. How bout we stop making mediocre sequels with tired engines and rehashes that try to lure us in with nostalgia, and instead continue to squeeze more out of this generation. There's still room to improve, so don't act like this generation has nothing left to offer. There's been no damage done to gaming by going this long without new consoles. We should hold off until 2014.
tl;dr - I'm not willing to invest in a new pair of consoles with the current habits and practices of developers and publishers. There's a lot of life left in this generation, and new consoles aren't going to solve any problems, especially with new IP.