Chalgyr's Game Room - where it's all about the games


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Did this console cycle last too long?

Yves Guillemot of Ubisoft has been a fairly loud proponent of getting new hardware out sooner rather than later, and in this IGN article he argues that the seven year cycle the current generation has adopted, versus the usual five year cycle, has damaged gaming badly. One of his quotes in Polygon was, "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."

Now, I have argued in the past that I think the consoles could have stood another year before we advanced systems and still feel that way. Not because I have anything against new hardware. I have been through a lot of console cycles by now. One of the problems though I have with the current generation of consoles is they did not become particularly reliable until a couple of years in. Each of the consoles had it's own 'of death' state, whether it was Sony's 'yellow light of death' or Microsoft's infamous 'red ring of death' or even Nintendo Wii's 'black screen of death'. I have experienced every one of these issues with each brand of console less than two years after buying it. That plus the price points really hurt adoption I think in some corners.

You hear Guillemot and others complaining that the gaming market has been down over the last two years, and there is some truth to that, but I question if the consoles are really to blame on that front. On one hand, we have weathered a particularly nasty recession that has impacted almost every industry in some way or another. Also, the article cited that boxed game sales are down, but by the same token digital is way, way up over what it was at the start of the console cycle.

I am not against getting new hardware out into the market, I simply hope that a lot of lessons were learned from this current generation of consoles. We saw a huge change in how video gaming as a hobby was both perceived and leveraged over this current generation. I honestly believe that this was the most transformative cycle in at least a decade, maybe more. In years past the new cycles brought about higher audio and video fidelity and perhaps changes in the hardware (such as cartridge to disc or the number of inputs on your controller).

This generation however really tapped into the online communities and digital marketplaces. Developers like Sqaure Enix only recently really got their feet wet with things like purchased DLC and games like The Elder Scrolls Oblivion taught developers what customers wanted to spend money on and what they did not. Publishers realized they could save a lot of money by reducing physical costs by getting games released digitally - and this was especially true of games that were maybe localized from say Japan that had a niche audience like Elminage. These titles are not expected to have a wide audience, so there is less inherent risk in doing a digital release.

Along the way this current generation of consoles has more than ever become the center of the living room. I remember when the PlayStation 1 could play back my music CDs and the PlayStation 2 could play back my DVD's. Now the PlayStation 3 can play back my Blu-rays, connect to my PC to slideshow my images, connect to online video viewing services like Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix and stream music through my stereo system from a variety of devices. The demands we have made on this generation's consoles has been higher than ever, our expectations greater than ever.

AAA games have grown into monstrous budgets, the likes of which we never saw in games years past. Online security became more of a concern than ever as evidenced by the Microsoft points scam with FIFA or Sony's Network being hacked and taken down. Hardware did not compensate for overheating and overuse, breaking down at a rate I have never never seen in the past. I have working consoles from more than twenty years ago that still play great today. I can all but guarantee my Wii, PlayStatoin 3 and Xbox 360 will not be working in twenty years - to be honest I would be amazed if they still worked in five.

I understand that third party developers want the new hardware out so they can take some more chances. Guillemot makes some valid points, but there is already concern that the Wii U may not be all that advanced technically. There have been multiple articles that the hardware is not much better than either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. That is not to say the Wii U is or will be a failure, but it is a concern.

I also find it somewhat amusing to read Guillemot's comments and then decided to stroll over and view the Ubisoft collection of games for the Wii U. The include ZombiU, Rayman Legends, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013, Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth, Just Dance 4, Rabbids Land, Assassin's Creed III and Sports connection. Only two of those titles I believe are brand new IPs. I am certain Ubisoft has more original titles in the pipes for down the road, but they are starting off this new generation of consoles hedging their bets and relying on what they know works. Considering early in the console life cycle, the console creators generally take a loss on their systems, who can blame them for wanting to make a bit more money off of their consoles now that the cost of producing them has come down?

Microsoft has a bit more money to play with than say Sony, who recently took a large credit rating hit. Sony is likely quite concerned - if this new PlayStation does not perform well early, they could be damaged financially as well.

Guillemot has obviously been a part of the industry a long time and has a great deal more experience with its inner workings than I have, but in this count I think he is mistaken. I think if the consoles had been rushed out sooner, it would have been far more dangerous to the industry. Can you imagine trying to sell one of these new consoles two years ago during the earlier part of the recession? Would Sony have been able to properly take lessons learned on their network security? What about Microsoft dealing with hacked accounts? Some of the successful newer IPs of this generation might not have come out, such as Dragon's Dogma. Would Skyrim have been so successful last year if their developers were straddling the line between the Xbox 360 and Durango? Would the Mass Effect 3 trilogy been allowed to 'wrap up' on this generation, or would you have been forced to buy new hardware to finish your storyline?

I do not believe consoles need a five year hard cycle to be successful. I think each cycle will bring its own lessons and the industry will adapt accordingly as we go forward. There are still excellent games being made on these consoles now, and I think we are better off for having waited until now. What do you think? Agree with Guillemot, myself or have an entirely different stance? Sound off and thanks for reading!

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dedicatedtogamers1972d ago

This is my opinion, but the main problem with the game industry is that consoles are trying too hard to be PCs, and since PCs (and tablets, which are simply portable PC-style platforms) are becoming more and more integrated into the living room, the thing that made consoles unique is starting to fade away.

"Back in the day", the reason why someone played console was because it was so streamlined, so pure, and just plain fun. PC gaming is fun, but it has a different "feel" to it. Console gaming was meant to be something that you could jump into really quick and get right to the fun. Now, most console games are simply PC games with inferior graphics and a controller instead of mouse+kb.

I'm sure developers would LOVE for new hardware to come out. Then they can simplify their development process. You think console devs want the extra power so they can do better graphics? No, not really. They simply want to do the same graphics they've been doing on PC for the last 5 years and then they'll call it "next gen".

Chalgyr1972d ago

Hi there, Dedicatedtogamers!

I think you make several excellent points. I think this goes back to how these consoles are turning into the focal points of living rooms. I also agree with your final point, that many devs probably do just want things updated for that reason. Thanks for the comment!

mav8051970d ago

I think what you say may be partially true as far as the developers motives are concerned. The more powerful hardware would allow them to spend less money on optimizations and so forth for the newer hardware because it would be sufficiently powerful. However, that would only be true for a year or two. Competition within the industry would quickly force developers to step-up their game and produce higher quality games or else risk losing sales and fanbase.

Additionally, what you said is probably mostly true of publishers and higher level executives. I'm sure that a lot of the creators, artists, etc. actually doing the work just want a better medium to express their ideas and creativity.

newflesh1972d ago

For me the problem is not the absence of new consoles, but the lack of new original ideas in games. I don't need better graphics, I'm perfectly fine with it now. What I really need, want and miss is new innovative games (dreamcast anyone?). So I think we don't really need next gen consoles, we need next gen video games.

jadenkorri1972d ago

There are several new ips that do come out, the problem is big game franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, Gears, God of war, Grand Theft Auto, Killzone all overshadow them and get the attention. Leaving not much for the rest of the industry causing companies to close or develop similar games to try and make money to stay open.

ABizzel11971d ago

I agree with both of you.


new Ip's are far and few between when compared to the constant annual and bi-annual release of big franchises. I wish for one year that the majority of the games released would be new franchises, so we can have something that's refreshing. But the thing about many of these new franchises is that their generally a knock off of some other game we've seen 2 or 3 iterations of all ready. Dishonored, Journey, and The Walking Dead were great, but we need about 6 more of those vastly different gameplay experiences each year now that we're on installments 3 - 7 on some franchises.


That's why developers need to find a time frames that works best for a wider audience, and filled with less competition.

January is a iffy time, because the holidays have just past, but it's also a good chance to get shoppers who're looking for an after holiday deal as well as scoop up those gift cards people got for the holidays.

March is a good time, because people are generally getting their income tax check back sometime that month.

Summer is an excellent time. E3 gives you the chance for your game to shine, and with the E3 hype people may be more willing to buy you game. Not to mention kids are generally out of school for the summer and are looking for something to do (or play in a gamer's case), and summer is generally dead as far as big releases.

Developers need to be conscience of when and where to release their game, and have realistic expectations that since they're releasing a new IP it may not sell as well as an established franchises unless it's top notch quality all around, has great showings, and has the demo & marketing to back it up.

Nicaragua1972d ago

The shorter the console cycle then the less value you will get out of that console - so no, i do not want to receive less value for my money.

-GametimeUK-1972d ago

I am still happy with my current systems and I don't think the cycle has dragged on. I think now is the perfect time to offer us a new console, but I will not be an early adopter.

I think the timing is just right and this generation has enough to offer me until a price drop on a new console if they release one in a years time.

AtomicGerbil1972d ago

I think developers and publishers complain too much. If new hardware is that easy and affordable to produce, then why aren't they doing it?

The simple truth is, they know that they can release any old crap on a new system at it'll sell. Whereas right now they are having to work harder to make something that people want.

Whatever happened to developing for the love of it? oh yeah, it's now known as the Indie scene. Sadly everywhere else has degraded into making money to please shareholders who sit on their fat arses and do nothing.

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