We're now settling into the midlife of the current console generation. Each generation seems to go slightly longer than the last as hz increase exponentially. Interactive gameplay has been the name of the game for the tail end of the last decade. Sony and microsoft were left far behind in the sales race compared to Nintendo’s wii.
To make up for this both companies intend to keep their current consoles on the market for an optimistic ten years. Which leaves much unsaid for overlap of the next console, which as the ps2 has shown us can be quite considerable, or as with the original xbox quite short.
I expect we’ll see all three companies expand heavily on the area’s they have recently been heading. Nintendo will most likely announce a new console the soonest. They have the most money to put into development, and also their console is the least powerful being left behind as people upgrade their televisions slowly but surely. While they could easily ride out game sales on the wii for a number of years the smart move would be to try and ride the hype of it at the end. If they announced or released in a year and a half or so with a reasonably priced console as powerful as their present competition they would be in a good spot for close to a decade. They would of course have to top the standard motion gimick. I have no speculation except hearsay and options they may have as to what they may do. I doubt it will be based on the technology they presently use, but will be motion based in someway. Or possibly something outlandish like reading your mind.
Microsoft will likely announce a decent amount of time after nintendo, as kinect is supposed to be seen as a new console. We probably won’t see anything from them for three or more years. What will be interesting is the next version of their console, I expect an integrated evolved version of the kinects motion parts. A refined high fps hd depth sensing camera, probably with other abilities, maybe a completely redesigned controller to work along with it. The intervening years will see the motion interface concept they presently dabble in come to fruition. It’ll be what everybody imagined when they first heard of Natal.
Lastly Sony can be expected to lean heavily on the longevity of their consoles and continue optimization of the playstation platform. In four or quite possibly five years sony will again declare that the next generation starts when they say so. Sony has been quite public about what options their considering. Obviously they are into 3D, accelerometers, cameras, compass’, gyroscopes, and enhanced reality. They also file a great many strange patents, and show off futuristic tech demo’s at events. Magnetic sensors, sonar, ps3’s playing hologram pong, multiple consoles running as one and more. Theirs really no telling what they’ll put into their next machine, likely many if not all of the options they have available. A great many processors, whatever the competition has, plus whatever they were already working on before they noticed the other guy s had something cool and assimilated it into the playstation collective.
It looks like the next years of gaming will be mature ones, both technology and creativity wise. As a medium for hardware, software, and games designers, it looks like a bright and golden age for gaming. I look forward to better story telling, better game play, better communities, and plenty of surprises all around.