Console gaming's next generation coming out with launch of new hardware



It’s about time. Deep into a console cycle where hardware is being stretched beyond its limitations, software has stagnated, and Nintendo has released two of their own consoles (no, the WiiU is not a next-gen machine), the impending announcements of Sony and Microsoft consoles to launch in 2013 are long overdue.

Sony’s announced press event for the end of this month, Feb. 20, will beyond any reasonable doubt reveal some information about their next console for the end of 2013. Microsoft will likely follow suit soon after. While much is rumored, little is certain at this point but vague price points, some hardware components and industry history. Though we’re without the ability to mull over the specifics of each console, we can prophesize about what the generation will bring for Sony, Microsoft, computer gaming and beyond.

The most exciting and “sexy” aspects that sell a new generation are the graphical upgrades and innovations. The length of the past cycle of the Wii/WiiU, Xbox 360 and PS3 has allowed their PC counterparts to blow by them in visual fidelity and all manner of aesthetic and technical upgrades. This, paired with extremes contemporary consoles have been pushed to, may result in an initially underwhelming launch.

There will be powerful and exciting upgrades within the new machines, but the idea of more expansive worlds, design freedom, quicker loads and expanded digital features cannot compete with the awe-inspiring leaps in pixel counts, dimensions, polygons and overall realism that are traditionally expected. This said, there will be a definite graphical leap, one which many estimate to initially equate at least to a $1,000-gaming PC. More troubling, commercially, will be the difficultly in representing this jump.

With the streaming capabilities offered by many news sites and the inability of screenshots to showcase many advancements, the industry may be left in a quandary similar to the creators of high-definition or sharper televisions. Without having the machine in your home, it’s impossible to replicate.

Commercial concerns aside, a next generation is a larger step than it appears to be. Series are entering their fifth and sixth renditions in the same generation, and developers appear to be reaching a point where they are out of room to grow. Of course, they could break out of their comfort zone and think more laterally, but the power of modern systems can only allow so much fidelity and size in modern releases. Development is stagnating across the board or running into a wall of bugs. This past year, more than any other, top-tier games are being released with a plethora of niggling issues and, in some cases, unrepaired game-breaking bugs, (see XCOM).

Though this may be an odd step forward, it is a needed step that may bring forth more than we expect, be it the growth of digital stores into marketplaces, another whack at motion controlled gaming or a left turn no one expects. Whatever the future may bring, thank God it’s here.

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