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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Why next-gen consoles may not be needed

    To those familiar with the gaming industry, it seems inevitable that new consoles will one day be released by all three of the major corporations: Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. To those unfamiliar, yeah, that tends to be the case. I’m here, however, to tell you that the old ways may be dying out, and here are some reasons why.

    Reason one: Technology

    The industry has come to a point in its life cycle when advancements in technology aren’t as frequent or in as large amounts as they once were.

    For example, the difference between the graphics on the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 is pretty vast. Today, however, Microsoft would be hard-pressed to build a machine that could run better graphics than the 360 for an affordable price. Sony would find it just as difficult. Only Nintendo would be able to do so because the Wii has such comparably mediocre graphics.

    While graphics used to be the industry’s focal point, that isn’t the case anymore. The Nintendo Wii changed the face of the industry, causing competitors to follow suit with the Microsoft Kinect and the Sony Move.

    Now there’s the whole motion market still waiting to be tapped. The Wii did a decent job, but there’s a lot more potential, mainly in regards to hardcore gaming as opposed to the current casual gamer market. The first one to make a truly groundbreaking game with motion technology will capture the attention of all serious gamers and make itself the clear front-runner from a sales perspective.

    But does new motion technology require a new console? The Kinect and Move proved that isn’t the case. In fact, any new technology, as in whatever the “next big thing” is, probably won’t need a new console either. The more likely scenario will be this: hybrid consoles. It’s actually the next best logical step for the big corporations to take.

    Instead of selling add-ons separately, build them into the normal machine and keep it at a reasonable price ($300 tends to be a pretty good standard). That way, new buyers will have the latest technology without having to be bothered to pay extra for what they might not want and old gamers have an excuse to buy a new machine.

    Reason two: Economy

    No one enjoys paying for a new system when they already have one that works. And with people having less money to spend on big ticket items — such as consoles — it’s unlikely someone is just going to splurge and buy some new console unless the differences are earth-shattering.

    To make matters worse, a new console, with improved graphics and some other necessary gimmick, is going to cost upward of $400 and that’s being conservative.

    Take a look at the latest handheld gaming devices to be released. The newest, Sony’s PlayStation Vita, cost $249.99 for the Wi-Fi only version and $299.99 for the Wi-Fi 3G unit. Nintendo’s 3DS originally cost $249.99, but on July 28, 2011, after poor sales, it dropped to $169.99.

    My point is this: If handhelds have gone up from $79.95, what the Gameboy Advance cost at launch, to where they are now, the increase in console price is going to be even larger.

    Reason three: Unnecessary

    For the most part a new console is not needed, with the potential exception being the Nintendo Wii. After all, they’re doing well. The Xbox 360 continues to be a popular powerhouse and PlayStation 3 sales have grown rapidly since its abysmal showing at launch.

    Especially for the latter, why risk building a new machine when some people might not care enough to buy it? After all, the PlayStation 2 saw a few years of new releases even after the PS3 came out simply because it was so popular. In fact, it’s still the console with the most units ever sold, at 153.5 million, and it was released in 2000.

    Besides, the 360 and the PS3 are still machines with a bit more juice left to squeeze out. Graphics on both platforms continue to get better. The potential has not been tapped and there’s no sense in building something new until Microsoft and Sony hit the wall.

    Even then, how much better can it really get? Graphics already look pretty damn stunning and I can’t imagine them getting much better without looking like real life. And I don’t want them to look like real life. If I did, I’d simply stop playing games and spend all my time living real life. I wouldn’t need the escape, you see, and neither would many others.

    The exception: Nintendo

    The Wii did not make the prettiest games. Yes, some were designed well considering the machine’s limitations, but when put next to the 360 or PS3, it became obvious that the Wii was deficient in the graphics area. Since Nintendo obviously has some catching up to do, it makes sense that there’s already a new Nintendo console in the works, the Wii U.

    There’s another reason it makes sense for Nintendo, and it is a reason that has been and always will be true for both past and future consoles from Nintendo — they always bring something innovative to the table.

    This time, it happens to be the special controller to be released with the Wii U. Not only will it have a touchscreen, but it can also allow gamers to play games on it alone. Yes, that means TVs are unnecessary. However, that doesn’t mean people won’t be playing it on TVs — the impact is far greater.

    The true potential is one of convenience. Imagine playing some game on the Wii U, only to have someone else come and want to watch TV. Instead of having to turn the system off and stop, you can just switch over to the special controller. Gamers will also be able to play around their house, if they feel like wandering for whatever reason while playing. It basically opens up a lot of possibilities.

    The Wii U also is going to, obviously, have 1080p high-definition graphics and will be backwards compatible with the Wii and all of its controllers/accessories. It could also be full of other surprises, since right now a lot is still unknown. What matters though is that Nintendo, unlike the other two corporations, will likely always come out with new consoles for the sheer fact that they always have new ideas.

    Who can sneak in and steal attention: Project Fiona

    It’s something I doubt many people have heard of. This is a mistake of the greatest magnitude. Right now it’s only a prototype, made by Razer, a computer peripherals manufacturer whose main market is the gaming community.

    In the most basic sense, Project Fiona is a tablet made specifically for gamers. It does, however, run Windows 8 and has an Intel Core i7 processor, which is pretty powerful, all things considered. The .8 prototype shown on websites like Gizmodo.com show it has a 10.1 inch frame with a 1280×800 display and two little handles that act as the controllers, but things are sure to change from now to the finished model.

    That point aside, it’s basically a functioning computer with an emphasis on gameplay. The expected price, according to an article on Gizmodo, is under $1,000, which isn’t bad considering it’ll be able to perform just as well as any laptop.

    Still, I and many others feel that the ultimate gaming console will always be the PC. Not only does it have practical functionality outside of gaming, but it has the highest potential for quality, if one is willing to pay for it. That is the problem, of course, but having a portable computer the likes of Project Fiona seems like a dream.

    The only remaining issue is the availability of games, though it’s something easily fixable if the demand for PC games increases. Right now people are enchanted with consoles, but it wasn’t always that way and it won’t necessarily stay that way either. Project Fiona and anything else like it has some serious potential to shake the industry up even further and redefine what a gaming platform truly is.

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