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'True Next-Gen' Is a Farce

Before I begin this blog, should I preface with "inb4 rabid fanboys disregard blog content and only read title?" And also with "inb4 OP can't inb4?"

Thankfully, now that I've gotten that out of the way, I feel the need to speak my mind on this matter in a place where I cannot be given 200 disagrees by rabid fanboys and bubbled down into oblivion with my opinion being hidden due to the hive-mind that is N4G's sporadic dislike of anything that is counter to what they believe. Referring back to my title, yes 'next-gen' is nothing but a farce. It is no longer a valid title, that is, a valid title used by the companies producing video games and in the way many people have begun commonly using it. What is the common use of the term now you may ask? Well the term has for some reason come to represent graphics. But I mean, if that is the case, why are a majority of games released this generation which are graphically mediocre not considered to be past-gen games?

Now, the hypocritical majority of voices that exist on this website are the true spurring movement behind writing this piece. I'm simply fed up with all the (insert derogatory adjective here) posters belittling various (see: Nintendo) console(s) and their publishers because it doesn't fit their on the spot thought up definition of the term 'next-gen'. So what do I intend at accomplish this this blog post? Realistically not a whole lot. However I do hope to have a sum of people actually read through this post, preferably those who misuse the term 'next-gen'. And maybe it will get more members of this 'community' to react to that use of the term, effectively stopping it.

First of all, we must begin the question: what is really 'next-gen'? What does the term mean? Well a quick Google search of "next generation video games" yields a Wikipedia article as the second result. Normally, Wikipedia is a great source to gain basic and advanced information (don't listen to your teachers.) This article, "The History of Video Games", seems to be very appropriate in accordance with this blog. Hence, a video game console generation is defined in my own words as correlating to all the information on that article: the next iteration of consoles released by companies to the home market.

But, what does this mean towards a console generation? (Brace yourself, because in comes a quick history lesson on console generations.) It means that the first console generation began in 1972 with the Magnavox Odyssey. A console which used Digital Electronics to run its games, games including Pong, Chase, and Computer Space. The second generation of consoles known as the 8 bit era began in 1976 with the 1292 Advanced Programmable Video System. Along with that other companies began to join the fray with the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and Coleco vision all joining the market to compete. That is what is defined as the second generation. The third generation of video games, otherwise known as the 8 bit era began in 1983, with the Nintendo Family Computer, also known as the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and the Sega SG-1000. The release of these consoles marked the end of the North American Video Game Crash of 1983. Along with these two were the MarkIII/MasterSystem also by Sega, and the Atari 7800. Following the third generation, the fourth generation known as the 16 bit era, began with the release of Nippon Electric Company's PC engine (also known as Turbo Grafx-16) in North America. The generation all consisted of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, the Neo Geo, the Commodore CDTV, the CD-i and the Super A'Can.

The Fifth Generation, also known as the 3D era due to the obvious use of 32/64 bit or 3D visuals consisted of four major competitors. The 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer, the Sega Saturn, the Playstation, and the Nintendo 64. Along with those consoles were a plethora of others, nine others to be exact, that I will not bother naming. Following fifth, the sixth generation consisted of the Dreamcast, the Playstation 2, the Nintendo Gamecube and the Xbox. Along with them came a variety of handhelds, though the focus for this blog is on home consoles.

Finally comes the seventh generation. The one we are currently in the transition phase out of. This generation consisted of three major console competitors: Xbox 360 by Microsoft, Playstation 3 by Sony, and the Wii by Nintendo (and the various handhelds to come out in this generation). Now, to what my point is for that mini history lesson. A console generation is marked by the iteration of consoles that come out in it. Many of the previous console generations I listed above consist of many video game consoles that I'm sure most people have never heard of. Does that mean they did not exist during that generation? Of course not, it does not such thing. So why is it that suddenly in the seventh to eight generation of consoles people believe this to not be true?

Here's what we know so far of the Eighth Generation. It consists of these currently released consoles: the Nintendo 3DS, the Playstation Vita, and the WiiU. We know it will also contain a newer console by Sony, most likely the Playstation 4. We also know that it will have a new console by Microsoft, the Next-Box, or 720, whatever you wish to call it. Also added into the fray are the OUYA (is this a last generation console also?) and NVidia's new combination handheld/pc console.

What does a generation not consist of though? Well for one it doesn't consist of the number of consoles. We've seen clearly that there were a huge number of consoles in the past and they were all apart of their own respective generations. It doesn't consist of player counts or amounts sold. That has been fluctuating between each and every generation. It surely doesn't consist of graphical capabilities, otherwise we'd be in a generation far past Eighth due to the PC platform, with console manufacturers playing catch up for several years. Even though previous console generations focused on graphics (8 bit, 16 bit) that was all that they had to focus on at the time. That was the most they could do with the hardware and the software that they had. In fact, most of the consoles were graphically equal at the time, so graphics only defined the progression that consoles were making, not their differences in power or graphical capabilities (let's be honest, there weren't many that I remember). Not to mention, in modern generations graphics still have stayed equal amongst most console video games. Even the games that people claim as superior (graphically) to others look just barely better, if at all.

So I have to re-iterate the entire point of this blog. A console generation is not the graphics, the units sold, or the playercount. A console generation is the succession of consoles for the major manufacturers. Now referring back to the title of my blog, why is 'next-gen' a farce? Well because it's used to represent something that it's not. Publishers and companies are using it to represent graphical content instead of what it really is. So do not listen to publishers such as EA or Activision or the like when they say what is or isn't 'next-gen'. Their primary purpose is to sell you video games at whatever price point they can make the most amount of money. If they can spin some sort of blatant misdirect to convince people what is or isn't a 'next-gen' system, they will. All in the name of taking your money. So I urge those reading this, stop using the term 'next-gen' just because you don't like something a manufacturer put out. Stop using it to define graphics (remember PC's guys, or do those not count suddenly because of another on the spot made up definition). And start using the term as what it's meant to be; a definition of succession of consoles. And let me finally remind you, there is no such thing as 'True Next-Gen'. The next-generation of consoles has already started, whether you like it or not.

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360ICE1253d ago

'True next gen' is really just a term mostly used by people who feel the Wii U isn't an adequate jump from the last gen. It's not really an objective title that is exclusive to a certain group of consoles.
Calling PS4 and 720 for true next-gen is'nt particularly more objective than saying "Xbox 720 and PS4 are better than the Wii U".
Hell, you could say Wii U is true next gen, because the other consoles lack a pad controller (remains to be seen, but if). I'd think that would be weird, but hey. Whatever floats your boat.

It's not a farce, it's just more rooted in opinion than some would like.

In fact, console generation is hardly an objective term. Some people would disagree with your inclusion of handhelds. Some people would disagree with what consoles go into which generations. Take cheap consoles like M&M machines and POPstations. If one of those were released now, would you call them next-gen? It's really just a way for the subject to make some sense of the many consoles released.

ZombieNinjaPanda1253d ago

Generation is clearly defined by multiple sources as the successors to the previous iterations, hence the reason why I included an entire timeline of the consoles and their respective generations. The people who use the term to berate the WiiU are the same ones who say "NES fanatics" so they're not using it because they don't think it's an adequate jump, they're just fanboys, and that's where the gist of this annoyance and blog came from.

But objectively speaking, generations aren't subjective. They're marked by time period, they're marked by succession to their previous counterparts. Not to mention the handhelds are definitely part of the console generation too. What else would you consider them? Part of nothing? There's a reason why the 3DS and the VITA followed up the Psp and the NDS. They are next generation handhelds. The same way the WiiU, the PS4, and 720 are/will be next generation consoles. It's the same reason I included the NVidia and OUYA consoles. They will be next generation systems, whether people like it or not.

Also, M&M machines and POPStations? what are those? Do you mean the systems that sell and have like 50 games on them? Can you even classify them as anything more than a quick toy? They're not exactly consoles because people don't develop for them. Consider them the same as a huge board game, just one that is digital. Unless of course you'd consider a handheld that had monopoly, battleship and other board games on it in digital form a console. Otherwise, no, I wouldn't call them next-gen, because they're not competing with any of the manufacturers directly or indirectly.

SilentNegotiator1253d ago ImmatureShow
WildArmed1253d ago

Agreed. PS3/360/Wii were 7th gen (regardless of how you put it)

Just as PS4/720/WiiU are 8th gen (upcoming/current gen) of consoles.

People throw around terms like next-gen like it's defined by a console's hardware or such.

360ICE1252d ago (Edited 1252d ago )

When sideburnes like the Dreamcast release between generations, old tech release in new packages years after original like the Gameboy Micro, and different varieties and updates of already existing consoles (some of them vastly different from the original) are taken into account, the borders between generations immediately appear less clear, and you'd start getting disagreements. Are anyone objectively wrong in any sense? If so, by what standard? There are many consoles that breach with the concepts of time, succession, technology and support.

Oh, and POPstation not being a console is also really a subjective judgement. It has more games, more power and probably more support than any of the first consoles ever made.
That must mean people's perception of what a console is has changed, thus rendering the idea of an objective definition of console a bit meaningless. Maybe it's about what the maker of the console says it is? Well, the POPstation is marketed as a console. And there are games being developed for it, that can also be bought separately. Sure, most of them are probably first party, but still. I doubt you'd argue that third party support is what defines a console.

Which leads me back to my main argument. 'True next-gen' is just a term people use to make sense of the coming consoles. They think PS4 and 720 will be in a different league than Wii U, and therefore think the next-gen starts with them. I'm not sure I agree with that, but that again would be my opinion.

MattyG1253d ago

A generation isn't defined by it's tech, but by it's release window. The WiiU was released after the Wii. Therefore, it is a new generation. It's as simple as that, no fanboyism or tech talk required.

INehalemEXI1253d ago OffTopicShow
MacDonagh1253d ago

Wow. This was really well-written. Actually, most of the blogs have been a joy to read for me. It's good that there are some really good writers on N4G.

On topic of this whole next-gen thing, I believe it will be a generation of change. Some of it good. Some of it horrible. I can see a lot of companies falling to the wayside because the signs are all around. The amount of closures that this generation has had to deal with, all of the big 3 posting losses; it will be interesting at least to see the fallout from it all. I just plan to stand back and watch because it's going to be pretty funny watching everybody lose their mind over it.

rainslacker1253d ago

I don't consider well written insulting anyone who may disagree with him at every opportunity.

On Topic and not particularly in response to you but the blog:

Next Gen doesn't need to be defined. It is similar to the term hardcore. The term itself will vary based on who uses it, and where. I can't imagine how many qualifying statements would be needed to be used to get a commenter's point across when they are trying to define certain topics. Sometimes it's just easier to classify a statement into a simple, understandable term. Just because some people can't get the context of the term based on the comment doesn't mean that the term is being used improperly.

By writing this blog, and trying to set the definition of the term "Next-Gen" to what you believe it should be, is no better than what you are accusing others of doing.

As to the whole PR speak. Yeah, that's nothing new. It's been around since the dawn of the first console(or second rather), and publishers have always done this. It has been, and always will be used for self-promotion. Next-Gen is exciting for many people, and publishers will capitalize on that excitement to sell their products. If people want to listen to them, then that's their problem, not mine or yours.

As to what Next Gen means. Well it does mean what you say, a successor to a company's own product line. It also means a technological jump(graphically or gameplay) from the previous gen. It can also mean a new way to play games over the previous gen. It can also mean a new way to provide games to the consumer(Cartridge to CD). It can mean all those things and so much more.

There is no true definition of Next-Gen. There never has been, and there never will be.

MacDonagh1252d ago

Really? I haven't really seen many insults from the writer of this blog. Only some spirited debate from either side of the fence which is good. The blogs this month have been quite high-quality recently.

I hope it continues.

SilentNegotiator1253d ago

"A console generation is not the graphics"

Ah, yes, the old "Specs only mean graphics" farce...

WildArmed1253d ago

It's much similar to the "Specs mean better game" farce, no?

SilentNegotiator1253d ago

You mean the fact that higher specs mean all the more potential?

Nope, nothing like that.

WildArmed1253d ago

Righ, so that explains why the highest rated/most loved games are obviously from the 7th gen (PS3/360/Wii).

That vast "potential" of the hardware is realized with every single game isn't it?

Oh wait, that's right, most of the best games weren't even realized this gen.

SilentNegotiator1253d ago (Edited 1253d ago )

So you're pretending that potential means nothing? A higher capacity for AI, scale, etc not being realized in "every single" game means that potential means nothing due to "most of the best games" not being realized this gen?

If Half-Life 3 came out next gen and reached its lofty expectations and was spectacular with massive cities, great AI, impressive physics, etc, capitalizing on the new Playstation /Xbox /and mid to high end PCs....that would all not count because COD 53 isn't up to snuff?

Your logic is far from sound there.

EDIT: You talk as if potential is completely neutralized by the fact that you can still have a good game on a less powerful system.

No, "bigger" does not mean "better graphics". I'm so tired of reading misinformed blather about specs being "just graphics". Scale, what is rendered all at once, has a LOT of gameplay implications. Population, activity, etc are all affected by what can be rendered/processed at once.

Stop putting words in my mouth. I AM NOT SAYING THAT BETTER SPECS MEANS THAT THE GAMES ARE INSTANTLY BETTER. But many games benefit from better specs (Again, AI, the ability to render bigger more populated areas at once, physics, and more) and there will (and are) games that wouldn't have worked on less powerful systems. Plain and simple.

Stop being threatened by other companies than your favorite releasing more powerful systems. They will get some games not possible on the rest and some will be quite amazing thanks in part to the pushed boundaries. Just ignore these games if it makes you feel better, but don't act as though potential created by higher specs means completely nothing.

WildArmed1253d ago

You talk about this 'ideal' gaming world, but that isn't how it goes.

Indie games have used much less resources than retail games, and still have proved too put out better games than most AAA developers.

The logic behind "specs = better game" is just folly. It is a "potential" for better games, but that doesn't mean that you cannot have an equally great game on SNES or such.

There have been games with MASSIVE cities already. If you are talking about graphics, then say so -- so u massive pretty cities w/ uber physics etc etc.

But still, you can have all that, and still have a poor 'game'.

The very fact a Wii game, Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, 7th generation console)is ranked highly among gamers and critics a like should be enough to convince you, it's not the specs, but what you do with it.

jessupj1252d ago

Wii games have mostly been judged in regards to other Wii games. They have not been compared to the HD consoles.

How many times have we heard the phrase "good for a Wii game"?

I'm not saying SMG is a bad game, but I mostly disregard that arguement you made for it.

WildArmed1252d ago


Having heard "good for a Wii game" again and again shouldn't mean anything when a quality games does come out.

Super Mario Galaxy was one of the most critically acclaimed game EVER. Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the best RPGs this gen. Brawl really is fun.

Don't mistake me using Wii as an example of a sign of my bias towards it. If you want we can go further back:

FFX/FF6/FF7/FF8/DQ8 are all games from previous gens and are much better than most games this gen.

I'm sure you all know how FF went in this gen.

Heck, Zelda:OoT is better than most games this gen.

Specs don't make a game, it really is the vision and hard work of the developers.

Console specs won't matter unless you have the right people work on it.

WildArmed1252d ago

Dude I play on PC. I don't care about the next super powerful gaming console as none of them are going to on par (in sepcs) to my PC. I really don't have any shares in any of the big three, so don't mistake this as me defending Wii U. (which I don't own, neither do I own a Wii)

I know better specs = more resources for the developers to work with. I'm not delusional about it.

My point is that specs don't make or break the game. They are just a part of a much more intricate system.

By putting so much emphasis on the "specs", it downplays the hard work and vision of the developers. Yes specs give more resources, but they play a limited role.

Christopher1252d ago

I agree completely with this. The problem is that I think we should wait another 5 years before a new generation of consoles because [some] developers have been so lazy this generation.

I was appalled at how lazy the level designers were in ME3 when they didn't work to make weapons and mods as parts of the story and even when they had the chance they did it wrong. They played it safe with about every scenario in the game, never providing any surprises because as soon as you saw a few half-height barriers, you knew you were going to be in a fight. And even the abilities played it safe, taking no aim towards better customization that meant much of anything and instead giving you options that pretty much decided for most of them that you were going to go this way instead of the other because the other sucked.

I'm sure I'll be happy about the next generation, but I doubt I'm going to be that happy about how quick and slapdash the game design has been this generation as companies focus more on selling games that are fun to play but are not what they could be with a focus on design over graphics.

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moegooner881253d ago (Edited 1253d ago )

I played The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time on 3ds for the first time this year, and it ended up as one of my fav games of all time, you know why, because there was so much emphasis on all aspects of game play, level design and story progression, rather than on the graphics, aka it was developed the old school way. At the of the day, it doesn't matter which generation a game was released on, a great game is a great game regardless of its release window. For instance, the PS4, and next Xbox can be twice as powerful as the Wii U, and yet the Wii U might end up with the best software line up.

WildArmed1253d ago

Silly Moe! Ofc it was developed the old school way, it is an old school game :)

LoZ:OoT is one my fav. games ever too, played it back in 1990s when it came out.

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